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Starwatch: Saturn courts Venus in the evening sky

8 décembre, par Stuart Clark[ —]

The two very different planets meet this week near the south-west horizon, before Saturn disappears behind the sun

Two very different planets meet in the evening near the south-western horizon this week. Venus is the nearest planet to the earth. It is almost identical to our planet in terms of size, yet its closer proximity to the sun has rendered it a hellish world, with surface temperatures greater than a kitchen oven. It is surrounded by highly reflective clouds, making it very bright indeed.

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How can you conquer ordinary, everyday sadness? Think of it as a person

8 décembre, par Elle Hunt[ —]

New research suggests anthropomorphising your emotions can help you control them. But how do you actually go about it?

In the Pixar film Inside Out, the emotions of an 11-year-old girl are personified as perky Joy, petulant Disgust and hulking Anger. Sadness – voiced by The American Office’s Phyllis Smith – is, predictably, a downer with a deep side-parting and a chunky knit. Amy Poehler’s Joy can hardly stand to be around her, like a colleague you would time your trips to the tea point to avoid.

But the takeaway of the 2015 film – said by Variety to “for ever change the way people think about the way people think” – was that both emotions were necessary, and Sadness was as valid a part of life as Joy. Now there is a case for not only accepting Sadness, as in Inside Out – but embodying her, too. Researchers from Hong Kong and Texas recently found that individuals asked to think of their sadness as a person reported feeling less sad afterwards, a result they attributed to the increased distance perceived between the self and the emotion.

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Tigers, elephants and pangolins suffer as global wildlife trafficking soars episode download
8 décembre, par Robin McKie[ —]

Dozens of species are now at risk but a conference this week will showcase new technology that could help stop the illegal trade

The two young women who arrived at Heathrow in February 2014 en route to Düsseldorf were carrying nondescript luggage. Customs officers were suspicious nevertheless and looked inside – to find 13 iguanas stuffed into socks inside the cases. Astonishingly, 12 of the highly endangered San Salvador rock iguanas had survived their transatlantic journey.

“There only about 600 of these animals left in the wild, in the Bahamas, and these animals were being taken to a private collector somewhere in Germany. Incredibly, we were able to return 12 of them, alive, to their homeland – on San Salvador island,” said Grant Miller, who was then working for the Border Force’s endangered species team.

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Gene editing will let us control our very evolution. Will we use it wisely? | Dan Rather

8 décembre, par Dan Rather[ —]

I’ve covered some of the biggest stories of our age, but this is the biggest and could change what it means to be human

We live in a time when science and technology are having an impact on our society in more and more ways. And the decisions that shape how these new fields of knowledge develop ultimately affect all of us.

Related: Human Nature review – quiet revolution that began in a yoghurt pot

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Katrina Karkazis: ‘You can’t use testosterone levels to divide people into male or female’

7 décembre, par Andrew Anthony[ —]
The cultural anthropologist on why our view of testosterone as the male sex hormone skews both science and society

Katrina Karkazis, a senior research fellow at Yale University, is a cultural anthropologist working at the intersection of science, technology, gender studies and bioethics. With Rebecca Jordan-Young, a sociomedical scientist, she has written Testosterone: An Unauthorised Biography. It is a critique of both popular and scientific understandings of the hormone, and how they have been used to explain, or even defend, inequalities of power.

You suggest that testosterone is understood as an exclusively male hormone, even though it’s also found in women. But surely no scientist believes this.
No, what we’re saying is that the hormone has a century-long biography and identity that continues to be that of a male sex hormone. That language is used by authoritative sources in the US like the National Library of Medicine, but also in many media articles. It’s an argument that has to do with how the hormone is understood, which then shapes the kinds of research questions that get asked, what kinds of research get done or not done. There’s actually almost no research on the relationship between testosterone and aggression in women. That is a consequence of the framing of the hormone as having to do with men, masculinity, behaviours understood and framed as masculine. It’s the idea that because men generally have more testosterone, somehow that makes it more relevant in men. But the truth is we know very little about it.

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No link between caesarean delivery and obesity, research finds

6 décembre, par Nicola Davis[ —]

Mode of delivery unrelated to whether a baby is overweight as a young adult, study suggests

Delivery by caesarean section does not increase the chance of a baby ending up overweight or obese as a young adult, researchers have found, contrary to previous research.

The authors of the study say their work drew on a huge number of people and more fully takes into account a wide range of possible factors that could explain why babies born by caesarean tend to end up heavier.

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People listen to Greta Thunberg because of her creativity, not just her science | Lisette Johnston

6 décembre, par Lisette Johnston[ —]

Creative subjects are on the decline in schools and universities, yet they are vitally important to society

Blue Planet, Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg are all household names bringing information about serious environmental issues to the masses. They’ve helped green issues shoot up the agenda for this year’s general election, with a poll last month revealing that more than half of voters said that the climate emergency would influence how they cast their vote.

If it wasn’t for the media these scientific messages wouldn’t be heard or understood by millions of people. And Greta Thunberg’s extraordinary global impact demonstrates her mastery of skills that have little to do with what we usually think of as science.

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Pioneering Ketamine treatments: alcohol dependency – Science Weekly podcast episode download
6 décembre, par Presented by Hannah Devlin and produced by David Waters[ —]

Ketamine might sound like an unlikely candidate for treating addiction and depression. But a growing number of scientists believe the drug could help. Over the next two episodes of Science Weekly, Hannah Devlin speaks to two experts who are using ketamine in their work in very different ways. In this episode, we’re focusing on alcohol dependency and the findings that a single dose of Ketamine could positively impact on heavy drinkers

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Science Museum 'hiding dirty money' over £2m Sackler donation

5 décembre, par Lanre Bakare[ —]

Funds intended for specific project will instead be spread across Science Museum’s work

The Science Museum has been accused of trying to “quietly hide away dirty money” after it agreed to a request by the Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation to repurpose a £2m donation earmarked for a prominent new gallery.

The donation, which was meant to fund the Medicine: the Wellcome Galleries collection – dedicated to thousands of medical artefacts, including the world’s first MRI scanner– was removed from the project earlier this year as the Sacklers’ philanthropic donations came under increased scrutiny.

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European plan to tackle space debris? Hug it out

5 décembre, par PA Media[ —]

Defunct satellite capture options include net, harpoon or embrace with mechanical arms

The European Space Agency is working to tackle the issue of space debris with the technological version of a big hug.

It hopes to be able to use tentacle-like mechanical arms to embrace a dead satellite and remove it from orbit.

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