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The T Rex’s tiny baby arms might have been way more useful than they seem

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 15:34

Running into a Tyrannosaurus rex in the wild would have been a truly frightening thing for just about any animal that roamed the earth between 65 million and 80 million years ago, and for an obvious reason. The mighty meat-eater was huge in size and had a mouth built to turn bones into powder. If it snagged you with its jaws you were probably going to have a bad time, but nobody was afraid of its puny little arms... or were they?

As Live Science reports, a new study presented at a recent meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology took a close look at how T. rex's arms would have functioned, and it makes some bold predictions.

Just how T. rex used its arms and for what purpose has been hotly debated for years and years. Some believe the arms didn't do much of anything, while others have suggested that the tiny limbs flailed wildly with sharp claws that could have seriously injured prey or foes.

This latest round of research approaches things from a different angle, seeking to determine the range of movement of the arms as a clue to their usefulness. The researchers studied the limbs of two distant modern relatives, the alligator and turkey, for hints. What the team concluded is that the T. rex could likely have turned its hands inward if it wanted to, and it may have used its arms to hold prey in place or pull it closer.

The idea here is that the T. rex knew its jaws were its most potent weapon and so it used its arms to keep prey at the perfect biting distance. We'll of course never know for sure unless we could somehow watch a T. rex or similar upright carnivore find a meal, but the researchers are confident in what the fossils and modern animals tell them about how the dinosaur could move its limbs.

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What's next for Paul Allen's big investments? It's not clear

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 15:21

Prior to his death on Monday, billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen invested large sums in technology ventures, research projects and philanthropy, some of it eclectic and highly speculative. Outside of bland assurances from his investment company, no one seems quite sure. Allen died in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, according to his company Vulcan Inc. He was 65.

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No, Elizabeth Warren: DNA Testing Can’t Tell You Who You Are, and Here’s Why

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 15:10

Over-generalization can be dangerous.

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Everything You Know About the Fate of Lottery Winners Is Probably Wrong, According to Science

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 15:06

Overall the money won led to positive long-term satisfaction and researchers found that there was a connection between a financial life satisfaction and long term overall life satisfaction.

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President Donald Trump Wants to Stop the Caravan. Here's What Experts Think Would Help

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 14:38

For the second year in a row, President Donald Trump is upset about a caravan of Central American migrants headed to the United States.

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De Beers eyes tech markets for synthetic diamonds future

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 14:17

TORONTO/LONDON (Reuters) - Anglo American unit De Beers is going after lucrative, but elusive high-tech markets in quantum computing, as it aims to expand its lab-grown diamond business beyond drilling and cutting. Element Six, De Beers' synthetic diamond arm, is building a $94 million factory in Portland, Oregon, an expansion that comes as scientists from Moscow to London push to develop diamonds for futuristic applications. Now coming of age after decades of experiments, technology called chemical vapor deposition, or CVD, offers a path to higher-quality, lower-cost production of synthetic diamonds and that opens the door to potential new computing markets.

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In toothy prequel, piranha-like fish menaced Jurassic seas

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 13:07

Scientists said on Thursday they have unearthed in southern Germany the fossil of a fish that, with its mouth full of razor-sharp teeth, strongly resembled today's piranhas, the stars of more than their fair share of Hollywood horror films. Named Piranhamesodon pinnatomus, it is the earliest known example of a bony fish - as opposed to cartilaginous fish like sharks - able to slice flesh rather than simply swallowing prey, enabling it to attack victims larger than itself as piranhas can. Piranhas are freshwater fish that inhabit rivers and lakes in South America.

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Justice Department Opens Investigation of Catholic Church Sex Abuse in Pennsylvania

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 12:59

Confidential files and testimony from church leaders have been subpoenaed

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China wants to put a big fake moon in orbit to reflect sunlight back down at night

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 12:46

The Moon is great, but apparently it's just not enough for the city of Chengdu in China. Not satisfied with the meager light the Moon reflects back down to Earth at night, scientists in the region plan to launch a satellite that will actually reflect sunlight back down to Earth and turn night into day... sort of.

The satellite is effectively a giant mirror that will redirect sunlight back down on Chengdu even after the Sun sets. The spacecraft will be roughly eight times brighter than the Moon, according to the Chengdu Aerospace Science and  Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute, and should provide enough light that it will actually make street lights totally irrelevant for at least part of the city.

If this all sounds kind of bizarre that's because it is. It really, really is. The group planning the satellite says the mirror will produce light over an area of between 5 and 50 miles. That's, well, not a very specific, and it's unclear from current reports just how long the satellite will last.

There's also been some very real concern that the mirror's never-ending glow could seriously impact natural cycles of animals. Scientists have long been critical of human light pollution and its ability to potentially throw off the day/night rhythm of animals, and the same could be true of this fake moon plan. Some experts who support the plan suggest that it'll produce little more than a "twilight glow" that shouldn't change how animals behave, but nobody will know for certain until the satellite is up and running.

The institute working on the satellite plans to have the fake moon deployed by 2020. There seems to be some conflicting information over just how bright the light will be — something bright enough to make street lights obsolete sure sounds like it's brighter than a "glow" — so it'll be interesting to see just how well the mirror works... or doesn't.

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How life changes when you're 11 years old and arrested for murder

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 12:22

Jordan Brown, now 21, shares the conditions he faced after his arrest at age 11 for murder and his life today after his conviction was overturned.

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How can genetic data be better encrypted? Researchers find a way

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 12:12

Using nothing more than a simple vial of saliva, millions of people have created DNA profiles on genealogy websites. This problem of access is one that Bonnie Berger, a professor of mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and her colleagues think they can solve, with a new cryptographic system to protect the information. "We're currently at a stalemate in sharing all this genomic data," Berger told AFP.

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President Trump Threatens Mexico If Caravan of 4,000 Honduran Migrants Reaches U.S. Border

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 11:48

As about 4,000 Hondurans made their way through Guatemala, attention — and pressure — turned to Mexico Thursday, after U.S.

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What Makes the U.S.-Saudi Relationship So Special? Weapons, Oil and 'An Army of Lobbyists'

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 10:55

The 75-year alliance between the two nations has been built on American demand for Saudi oil and Saudi demand for American firepower.

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Saudi Lobbying in the U.S. Has Tripled Since Trump Took Office

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 10:44

Lobbying from Saudi Arabia has tripled since President Trump took office

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Genes play significant role in whether students to go to university, scientists find

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 10:39

Genetics plays a significant role in whether young adults choose to go to university, which university they choose to attend and how well they do, a new study suggests. Previous studies have shown that genetics plays a major role in academic achievement at school, with 58 per cent of individual differences between students in GCSE scores due to genetic factors. However, it was unclear if DNA was important in later life. Using data from identical twins to tease out how much of university choice was genetic,  researchers from King’s College London found that genes explained 57 per cent of the differences in A-level exam results and 46 per cent of the difference in achievement at university. They also found genetics accounted for 51 per cent of the difference in whether young people chose to go to university and 57 per cent of the difference in the quality of the chosen university. Dr Emily Smith-Woolley, from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, who co-led the research said: ‘We have shown for the first time that genetic influence on educational achievement continues into higher education. “Our results also demonstrate that the appetite young adults have for choosing to continue with higher education is in part, influenced by their DNA.” The researchers also found that shared environmental factors – such as families and schools - influenced the choice of whether to go to university, accounting for 36 per cent of the differences between students. However, shared environmental influences appear to become less important over time, become negligible for achievement at university.   Dr Ziada Ayorech, from the IoPPN, who co-led the research said: ‘Unlike secondary school, where students tend to share educational experiences, university provides young people with greater opportunity to be independent and to carve out their interests based on their natural abilities and aptitudes. “Students’ unique environments – such as new friends, and new experiences – appear to be explaining differences in university achievement and the role of shared environment becomes less significant.” The results were based on studying 3,000 pairs of twins from the UK as well as 3,000 people who had their gene sequenced. Comparing identical and non-identical twin pairs allows researchers to determine the overall impact of genetics on how much people differ on measures like exam scores. If identical twins' exam scores are more alike than those of non-identical twins this implies the difference between twin pairs is due to genetic factors The results were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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These Are the Best High-Fiber Foods, According to Experts

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 10:36

They might surprise you

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Startup plans to launch small satellites from Virginia coast

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 10:09

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — A California-based startup has announced big plans to go small as it reaches into space, rocketing satellites the size of loaves of bread into orbit from Virginia.

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Summer drought may shrink supplies of French spuds

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 09:56

It's harvest time and the chips are down for potato producers in northern France where a long summer drought could see French spuds shrink in size and volume. The potatoes "first lacked water and then when rain fell in July started growing anew" which means the original plants lost starch and gained too much water, spoiling them, said Regis Dumont, a potato farmer from Warhem near the Belgian border. Then they got a roasting, with temperatures soaring to 37 degrees centigrade (98 Fahrenheit) in August, unusually hot for the northern French plains which account for two-thirds of the national potato crop.

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European Council President Says There Is Not Enough Progress On Brexit

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 09:37

European Council President Says There Is Not Enough Progress On Brexit

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You Are Not Your DNA

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 09:00

Just days before Warren announced her DNA ancestry results, headlines were warning of a new threat to the genetic privacy of us all. The privacy warnings came from a paper in Science, which proclaimed that detectives, or hackers for that matter, could find the identity of “almost anyone” from a sample of DNA. Of course, if you committed rape or murder and left your DNA at the scene, this DNA matching capability could reveal that you are the perpetrator.

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