Couples sleep better together

It is well established that people in stable relationships tend to have better mental and physical health than singletons. Now, scientists have discovered a possible explanation for this: it seems that sharing a bed promotes good sleep. Humans sleep in cycles, shifting between rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep – during which vivid dreams occur – and non-REM …

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Bumble bees

Information collected by a University of Ottawa team using data collected over a 115 year period and covering 66 bumblebee species, show that bumblebees are in drastic decline across Western Europe and North America, owing to higher and more extreme variations in temperature. The likelihood of the bee population surviving has declined by 30% in …

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Giving up US citizenship

A record number of people are giving up their US citizenship, according to analysis by a New York accountancy firm.  More than 5,800 Americans renounced their citizenship in the first six months of 2020, Bambridge Accountants reports, a 1,210% increase on the six months to December 2019.  The US’s global tax reporting requirements are a …

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Artificial intelligence: not so intelligent after all?

To The Economist Artificial intelligence is an oxymoron. Intelligence is an attribute of living things, and can best be defined as the use of information to further survival and reproduction. When a computer resists being switched off, or a robot worries about the future for its children, then, and only then, may intelligence flow. I …

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Meanwhile, the world temperatures are rising…….

Verkhoyansk, Russia The highest temperature ever seen in the Arctic circle – 38°C – has been recorded in a town in Siberia. Scientists had previously predicted that the Arctic circle would not experience temperatures like that until 2100. A small town with a population of 1,000, some 3,000 miles east of Moscow, Verkhoyansk is known …

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A weird question to the New Scientist, plus two answers

“If I wanted to be buried so that I was eventually fossilised, for possible discovery in the far future, where would be the best location on Earth to do this?”  (Jonathan Wallace, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK) If your aim is to be fossilised after you die, I would suggest that you ask your relatives to sink …

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Can planting trees save civilization?

Recently, the World Economic Forum launched 1t.org, a plan to plant a trillion trees. Even Donald Trump, who has withdrawn the US from the Paris agreement, has backed the initiative. But can trees store enough carbon to buy us time to act on climate change? A recent paper said 0.9 billion hectares could lock up …

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Oh, dear!

Common bottle nose Dolphins have a dominant right-hand side according to research by naturalists.  About 90% of all humans are also right- handed as are gorillas.  It appears, however, that a “right- hand” bias is stronger in dolphins than in humans. Wow!  The ice is melting, the seas are rising, the volcanos are doing what …

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What is intelligence?

Far from being an indefinable concept, a single measure of intelligence underpins our problem-solving, musicality and even creativity and emotional skills When researchers talk about intelligence, they are referring to a specific set of skills that includes the abilities to reason, learn, plan and solve problems. The interesting thing is that people who are good …

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Time to say farewell to steak and chips (fries)

Soon, most of us will stop eating beef,  and it won’t be because we’ll all agree with vegans that meat is murder. It’ll be due to the logic of advanced capitalism. The alternatives to meat now being developed – plant-based substitutes and vat-grown meat produced from cultured animal cells – will taste the same as …

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The genius of Einstein

Walter Isaacson, biographer ofAlbert Einstein, writes the following (page 550): Perhaps the most important aspect of his personality was his willingness to be non- conformist. “The theme I recognise in Galileo’s work” , he said, “ is the passionate fight against any kind of dogma based on authority”. Plank, Poincare and Lorentz all came close …

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Epicureanism: 12 main conclusions about the universe

From time to time I publish, or re-publish, some basic background information  about Epicurean science.  Epicurus reached twelve  conclusions of particular importance, provable through firm evidence and reasoning. The three faculties being given us by Nature to deduce this evidence are (1) our five senses, (2) our faculty of perceiving “anticipations,” and (3) our faculty of “feeling” …

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Re-cycling, Part 2: Endlessly recyclable plastic

Dr.  Brett Helms. who heads up a team of scientists, has announced that he has discovered a way of making scrap plastic indefinitely re- recyclable able.    Plastic material can be recycled, but because its quality degrades during the recycling process, even the stuff that makes it as far as a recycling plant (which is …

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What a mess we are making of our planet!

Microplastics have been found dropping from the sky in a remote stretch of the high Pyrenees – a stark illustration of the way that the pollutants, carried on the winds, have the potential to accumulate “anywhere and everywhere”.  Humans and other animals are consuming microplastics via food and water (including tap water), and there is …

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Now will you believe the science?

This planet of ours is beginning to burn — and not just last week or month either. It’s been smoldering for decades now. Last summer, for instance, amid global heat records (Ouargla, Algeria, 124 degrees Fahrenheit; Hong Kong, over 91 degrees Fahrenheit for 16 straight days; Nawabsha, Pakistan, 122 degrees Fahrenheit; Oslo, Norway, over 86 …

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