Science, Technology and Innovation

German court backs city bans on diesel cars

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A top German court ruled on Feb. 27 in favor of allowing major cities to ban the most heavily polluting diesel cars, a move set to hit the value of 12 million vehicles in Europe’s largest car market and probably force carmakers to pay for costly modifications. LEIPZIG – Reuters Hurriyet There has been a global backlash against diesel-engine cars since Volkswagen admitted in 2015 to cheating U.S. exhaust tests, meant to limit emissions of particulate matter and nitrogen oxide ... Read More »

Five reasons why being kind makes you feel good – according to science

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Everybody can appreciate acts of kindness. But when it comes to explaining why we do them, people often take one of two extreme positions. Jo Cutler Robin Banerjee The Conversation Some think kindness is something completely selfless that we do out of love and care, while others believe it is just a tool that we cunningly use to become more popular and reap the… But research shows that being kind to others can actually make us genuinely happy in a ... Read More »

Tech vs. Democracy

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In an age when most people get their news from social media, mafia states have had little trouble censoring social-media content that their leaders deem harmful to their interests. Guy Verhofstadt Project Syndicate But for liberal democracies, regulating social media is not so straightforward, because governments must strike a balance between competing principles. BRUSSELS – Instagram, a photo-sharing platform owned by Facebook, recently caved in to a demand by the Russian government that it remove posts by opposition leader Alexey ... Read More »

Thamkrabok Monastery has a reputation for its cold-turkey detox

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When the morning mist clears from Thamkrabok Monastery, it reveals granite cliffs looming over a sprawling complex of temples and mammoth Buddha statues. By Arthur Nazaryan GlobalPost Sometimes around noon, you can find a group of foreigners sitting on a wooden porch overlooking a pond, talking with monks (some of them also foreign) about destiny, self-reliance and karma. One could mistake this place for a spiritual retreat, but in fact, hardly anyone comes here as a tourist. Most of the people ... Read More »

Autism genes abound in DNA regions involved in learning

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The same processes that enable the brain to store new memories may also control many autism genes, a new study suggests1. BY JESSICA WRIGHT   Spectrum Candidate genes for autism are more than three times as prevalent in the genetic regions that become active after mice learn a new task as would be expected by chance, the researchers found. This connection between learning, memory and autism could explain why many children with autism have intellectual disability. “We are trying to understand the ... Read More »

Mark Cuban says studying philosophy may soon be worth more than computer science—here’s why

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According to billionaire technology entrepreneur Mark Cuban, earning a college degree in computer science might not be the safe investment you think it is. Ali Montag CNBC Today, students who study computer science have a high likelihood of scoring a lucrative job: Glassdoor determined computer science and engineering to be the number one highest-paying major to study in 2017. Meanwhile, students of liberal arts subjects often make far less. But Cuban, also an investor on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” expects that to change. “I’m going to ... Read More »

How lasers and robo-feeders are transforming fish farming

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Fish farming is big business – the industry now produces about 100 million tonnes a year – and with salmon prices soaring, producers are turning to lasers, automation and artificial intelligence to boost production and cut costs. By Chris Baraniuk, Technology of Business reporter BBC How do you know if farmed salmon have had enough to eat? Well, according to Lingalaks fish farms in Norway, which produce nearly three million salmon each year, the fish make less noise once the feeding ... Read More »

Mitsutoki Shigeta: ‘Baby factory’ dad wins paternity rights

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A Bangkok court has awarded paternity rights to a Japanese man over 13 babies he fathered through Thai surrogate mothers. BBC The ruling allows Mitsutoki Shigeta, 28, to pursue custody of the children. The son of a wealthy entrepreneur, he caused controversy in 2014 when he was revealed to have fathered 16 babies via surrogates in Thailand. His so-called “baby factory” case and others led to Thailand banning commercial surrogacy for foreigners. Mr Shigeta, who was not present at the ... Read More »

‘Lost’ ancient Mexican city had as many buildings as Manhattan, laser map shows

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‘If you do the maths, all of a sudden you are talking about 40,000 building foundations up there’ Jeff Farrell The Independent A “lost” Mexican city built by rivals to the Aztecs has as many buildings as Manhattan and was home to around 100,000 people, according to new research. The sprawling urban centre of Angamuco which was part of the Purépecha empire that peaked in the 16th century was detected by an aerial laser mapping technique called the Lidar system. An aircraft beamed out laser pulses and experts ... Read More »

Sweden steps up hunt for cobalt as electric cars boost demand

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The mineral-rich country has a history of mining copper, iron, silver and gold Niclas Rolander Independent Sweden will step up efforts to find precious minerals such as cobaltand lithium, key battery components that are increasingly in demand among makers of electric vehicles. The government will invest 10m kronor (£892,483) over the next two years to map the existence of minerals deemed important for future growth. While Sweden has a history of mining for base metals, the Geological Survey of Sweden, a government ... Read More »

Is marijuana the world’s most effective treatment for autism?

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It’s morning in Nahariya, a tiny Israeli town near the Lebanese border, and 4-year-old Benjamin is repeatedly smashing his head against the wall. BY DEBRA KAMIN Newsweek He spins wildly in circles, screeching at full volume. As his mother tries frantically to calm him, he pulls down his pants and defecates on the floor. When they leave their apartment, Benjamin wrestles free of her hand and nearly runs into oncoming traffic. Sharon attempts a trip to the supermarket but leaves before ... Read More »

Netherlands passes bill introducing opt-out organ donation

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Vote ‘real breakthrough’, says Dutch Kidney Foundation Senators in the Netherlands have approved a new law making all Dutch adults organ donors after death, unless they opt out. Harriet Agerholm The Independent The bill narrowly passed in the upper house of the Dutch parliament, more than a year after MPs passed the legislation. Pia Dijkstra, who drafted the bill, said under the new system every person over 18 who is not yet registered as a donor will receive a letter asking if they want to donate their organs after… ... Read More »

Julian Assange loses challenge to UK arrest warrant, court to rule on new bid next week

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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has lost one legal bid to have a UK arrest warrant against him quashed but immediately launched another, to have the British authorities halt any action against him on public interest grounds. ABC Judge Emma Arbuthnot said she would give her decision on February 13. A ruling in Mr Assange’s favour could pave the way for him to leave the Ecuadorean embassy in London where he has been holed up for more than five years. Mr ... Read More »

Plastic pollution: Scientists’ plea on threat to ocean giants

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Scientists say there needs to be more research into the impact of plastic pollution on sharks, whales and rays Helen Briggs BBC A study, in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, says the creatures may be swallowing hundreds of tiny bits of plastic a day. Microplastic pollution has the potential to further reduce the population sizes of the large filter feeders, they say. Yet, there is very little research being carried out into the risks. Researchers from the US, Australia ... Read More »

Can your brain testify against you?

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Defined set of guidelines required for neuroscientific techniques to be used correctly and effectively in law EurekAlert! Neuroscientific techniques continue to advance, but their applications in law raise concerns of a threat to individual rights. Previous applications of neuroscientific evidence include using brain scans to detect deception in an individual, and neurological responses to determine whether someone has intimate knowledge of a crime. However, just because we can use this technology, does it mean we should? A review published in ... Read More »

Fixing pain management could help us solve the opioid crisis

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Australia is facing a critical public health issue of poorly managed pain The combination of poor health outcomes, inappropriate prescribing for pain and non-prescription use of opioids has resulted in opioid-related deaths surpassing the national annual road toll. Meredith Craigie The Conversation And prescription opioids were involved in more than 70% of drug-related deaths in Australia in 2017. What should opioids be used for? Opiods began being commonly prescribed in the 90s, despite limited research supporting their effectiveness for chronic pain that wasn’t ... Read More »