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Dark snow: The troubling phenomenon that is accelerating glacier melting

When American geologist Ulyana Horodyskyj set up a mini weather station at 5,800m on Mount Himlung, on the Nepal-Tibet border, she looked east towards Everest and was shocked. The world’s highest glacier, Khumbu, was turning visibly darker as particles of fine dust, blown by fierce winds, settled on the bright,…

Argentina dinosaur hunters embark on next phase: Searching for giant sauropod skulls

A few months ago, Argentine scientists found the remains of a giant dinosaur. Now they look forward to digging up hundreds more fossils, but what they really want is the big one’s head. In recent years, the discovery of fossils of such sauropods — giant plant-eaters with thin necks and…

How breeding with ancient ‘Denisovan’ species gave Tibetans their head for heights

By John Brookfield, University of Nottingham A new study of the DNA of Tibetans has looked at the gene underlying their ability to live in the low-oxygen conditions at high altitudes. It found that this gene has come from an unexpected source – the mysterious group of ancient humans called…

Skeletons found in El Salvador shed light on early human settlements

Japanese and Salvadoran archaeologists said Friday they have found three human skeletons in El Salvador from more than 1,600 years ago that could shed new light on early human settlements in the region. The three nearly complete human skeletons, preserved in volcanic ash, were found near the Pacific coast at…

Researchers decoding mysteries of chimpanzee sign language

Chimpanzees use their hands to say “follow me,” “stop that” or “take this,” according to new research seeking to translate the sophisticated messages flowing back and forth. Previous research had revealed that our nearest genetic relatives use gestures to communicate, prompting questions over whether the communication systems shared ancestry with…

BBC staff instructed to stop giving time to science cranks for the sake of editorial balance

Journalists at the British Broadcasting Corp. have been receiving instructions from the BBC Trust to stop inviting unqualified ‘experts’ on their shows in an effort to provide ‘editorial balance’ on contentious subjects. According to The Telegraph, the BBC Trust released a report card on its efforts to curtail what it…

Nobel laureate: ‘we’re still scraping the surface’ of the full potential of stem-cell therapy

Martin Evans received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2007 for “for their discoveries of principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells”. Mohit Kumar Jolly, researcher at the University of Rice and contributor to The Conversation, interviewed him at the…

‘Citizen scientists’ take control of satellite abandoned by NASA in 1997

Having received the blessing of NASA, — and following a successful crowd-funding campaign — a group of ‘citizen scientists’ have taken control of an abandoned NASA satellite with plans to put it back to work again. In May the National Aeronautics and Space Administration gave permission to the group to…

James Cameron and wife to launch campaign advocating sustainable plant-only based diet

Suzy Amis Cameron talks to Jo Confino about our addiction to meat and dairy and the benefits of a plant-based diet Film director James Cameron and his wife, Suzy Amis Cameron, an actor and model, are planning a global campaign to persuade people to move towards a plant-only diet (where…

Researchers work to understand how psychedelics affect the brain

During an experience with a psychedelic drug a user will often come out describing the experience as having been one that expands their consciousness. This expansion can be from enhanced associations, vivid imagination and dream-like states. As the study results indicate, psilocybin produced a higher than normal level of activity…

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