Science, Technology and Innovation

How a DNA revolution has decoded the origins of our humanity

Mapping the genomes of our ancestors has allowed scientists to uncover secrets and discover new mysteries in our evolution Robin McKie, Observer science editor The Guardian cientists made a remarkable discovery at Trou Al’Wesse in Belgium earlier this year. Inside a cave that overlooks the Hoyoux river they found clear evidence it had been occupied by Neanderthals tens of thousands of years ago. Yet the cave contained no skull fragments, no teeth – nor any other skeletal remains of this extinct species ... Read More »

Message to the gods: the space poetry that transcends human rivalries

Sputnik 1 started it all. The beachball-sized satellite was launched by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957 and, despite a relatively short mission of only 21 days in orbit around Earth, quickly became regarded as a device that changed the world. Phil Leonard The Conversation It represented the beginning of the Space Age – and immediately heightened tensions between the US and the USSR, prompting fears about the weaponising of space. But Sputnik, and the missions that were to ... Read More »

Why is it nice to be nice? Solving Darwin’s puzzle of kindness

World Kindness Day is a global 24-hour celebration dedicated to paying-it-forward and focusing on the good Eva M Krockow Andrew M Colman Briony Pulford We are encouraged to perform acts of kindness such as giving blood, cleaning a communal microwave at work, or volunteering at a nursing home. The Conversation Of course, even without the encouragement of an international awareness day, kindness and selflessness are widespread among both humans and animals. Many people donate to charity and feel significantly happier ... Read More »

Why Glitter Must Be Banned

All that glitters ain’t gold, or so the old adage goes. And when it comes to the glitter used in everyday cosmetics, specialty make-up, hair products and party paraphernalia, the… Daniel Ross AlterNet EcoWatch “They really do get into everything, and despite their tiny size, they can have a devastating impact on humans and non-human animals,” wrote Trisia Farrelly, a social anthropologist at Massey University in… Glitter is one member of a large family of microplastics—tiny little bits of plastic less ... Read More »

Radical new approach to schizophrenia treatment begins trial

Exclusive: as evidence emerges that schizophrenia could be an immune system disease, two-year trial will use antibody drug currently used for MS Hannah Devlin The Guardian British scientists have begun testing a radically new approach to treating schizophrenia based on emerging evidence that it could be a disease of the immune system. The first patient, a 33-year old man who developed schizophrenia after moving to London from Cameroon a decade ago, was treated at King’s College Hospital in London on ... Read More »

The ethics of medical practice in offshore detention facilities

As the standoff between hundreds of asylum seekers in the Manus Island detention facility and PNG authorities continues, we are witnessing a potential crisis of health and mental health among these detainees. Louise Newman The Conversation As a psychiatrist, I have had direct contact with current Manus detainees who are experiencing increasing anxiety and distress and an uncertain future. Some of these people are treated with medication, usually antidepressants, and some feel that this provides them with some symptomatic relief. ... Read More »

Doctors join forces for euthanasia

A group of WA doctors have banded together to push for assisted dying laws in the State, arguing one of the country’s peak medical group is out of touch. Cathy O’Leary The West Australian The newly formed WA arm of Doctors for Assisted Dying Choice has made a submission to the State’s parliamentary inquiry into end-of-life choices, which closed for submissions this week. The doctors include GP Alida Lancee, who was at the centre of a police investigation last year ... Read More »

Climate change might be worse than thought after scientists find major mistake in water temperature readings

The sea was much colder than previously thought, the study suggests, indicating that climate change is advancing at an unprecedented rate Andrew Griffin The Independent Global warming might be far worse than we thought, according to a new study. The research challenges the ways that researchers have worked out sea temperatures until now, meaning that they may be increasing quicker than previously suggested. The methodology widely used to understand sea temperatures in the scientific community may be based on a ... Read More »

Assisted dying is one thing, but governments must ensure palliative care is available to all who need it

Assisted dying moved one step closer to reality in Victoria last week with the authorising bill passing the lower house with a comfortable 47-37 majority Stephen Duckett Throughout the debate, many MPs spoke of terrible personal experiences of the deaths of family members. The Conversation Such harrowing stories were also present in submissions to the parliamentary inquiry into end-of-life choices, that recommended an assisted dying regime leading to the… These terrible deaths were most often used to argue in favour ... Read More »

Prehistoric teeth fossils dating back 9.7 million years ‘could rewrite human history’

‘This is a tremendous stroke of luck, but also a great mystery’ Paleontologists in Germany have discovered 9.7 million-year-old fossilised teeth that a German politician has hailed as potentially “rewriting” human history. Tom Embury-Dennis  The Independent  The dental remains were found by scientists sifting through gravel and sand in a former bed of the Rhine river near the town of Eppelsheim. They resemble those belonging to “Lucy”, a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton of an extinct primate related to humans and found ... Read More »

Deep-Sea Mining Requires Transparent Environmental Management

For three years researchers from eleven countries have been working intensively on these questions on the consequences on deepsea mining on ecosystems and environmental aspects in the project “MiningImpact” coordinated by the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel… Hydro International This week, they discuss their findings at the project`s final meeting at the Natural History Museum London, UK. They also presented recommendations for the protection of the marine environment. In the 19th century, some researchers believed that below water ... Read More »

As a Briton, I hang my head in shame. We must return the Parthenon marbles

Now Amal Clooney has reignited the debate over the Parthenon’s crowning glory, it’s time we rectified a historic wrong. Reunite these ancient sculptures with their home Helena Smith The Guardian As a Briton, I hang my head in shame. <link rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” href=”https://assets.guim.co.uk/stylesheets/3655c9d83f27ad523e8bc2649f6bf2d4/content.css”/> Almost every day I take a walk around the Acropolis. “Around” is the operative word, because the Greeks have gone to great lengths to unite their Athenian antiquities with a pedestrian path. At the centre of this ... Read More »

Capitalism is ending because it has made itself obsolete, former Greek finance minister Yannis Varoufakis says

Exclusive: Former economics professor says rise of artificial intelligence will spell end of neoliberal system Tom Embury-Dennis The Independent  Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has claimed capitalism is coming to an end because it is making itself obsolete. The former economics professor told an audience at University College London that the rise of giant technology corporations and artificial intelligence will cause the current economic system to undermine itself. Mr Varoufakis, who took on EU institutions over Greek debt repayments in 2015, said companies ... Read More »

‘It’s able to create knowledge itself’: Google unveils AI that learns on its own

<link rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” href=”https://assets.guim.co.uk/stylesheets/282073db076992a654b86d39036af719/content.css”/> In a major breakthrough for artificial intelligence, AlphaGo Zero took just three days to master the ancient Chinese board game of Go … with no human help Ian Sample The Guardian Google’s artificial intelligence group, DeepMind, has unveiled the latest incarnation of its Go-playing program, AlphaGo – an AI so powerful that it derived thousands of years of human knowledge of the game before inventing better moves of its own, all in the space of three ... Read More »

NIST urges caution in use of courtroom evidence presentation method

Courtroom use of ‘Likelihood Ratio’ not consistently supported by scientific reasoning approach, say NIST experts EurekAlert! Two experts at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are calling into question a method of presenting evidence in courtrooms, arguing that it risks allowing personal preference to creep into expert testimony and potentially distorts evidence for a jury. The method involves the use of Likelihood Ratio (LR), a statistical tool that gives experts a shorthand way to communicate their assessment of ... Read More »

UK scientists told: in no-deal Brexit scenario they will have to leave EU research projects

The Commission has for the first time made clear the position of UK grantees after Brexit, in a sign the EU is laying the ground for the UK to leave without a deal Éanna Kelly Science|Business  The EU Commission has for the first time laid out how it will handle its scientific relationships with the UK after the country leaves in 2019, in a sign that Brussels has begun thinking about emergency steps should Brexit negotiations fail. In a notice ... Read More »