May 28, 2011

Crickets That Live Fast Die Young

Evolutionary biologists have tested to show that it is not only motorbiking bad boys who embody the ‘live fast, die young’ mantra, but also those hard nuts of the insect world, crickets.

In a study looking at the relationship between sexual performance, life expectancy and metabolic rate undertaken by David Hosken and his team, of the University of Exeter, crickets which exert a lot of energy during their lives have been found to die earlier.

Hosken explains in a press release: “Metabolism can be thought of as the burning of fuel that keeps us alive. Metabolic rate is the speed at which we burn the fuel. If we burn it faster we die younger.” Resting metabolic rate is how much energy the body burns off when it is, well, resting; or as Hosken puts it, “the body’s idling speed”. These rates vary amongst different organisms.

From this information, the team reasoned that some crickets will have a “smaller energy budget” than others, so that some will be more tired than others after similar activity. One activity which uses up a lot of energy is crickets’ “advertising of sexual maturity”. or making noisy mating calls by rubbing their serrated wings together. Hosken and his team predicted that the differing impacts of the mating calls on crickets’ energy supplies “could have an impact on lifespan”.

This hypothesis was tested by an experiment with 70 lab-raised male crickets whose mating calls were recorded for 15 hours. The next day, the 10 day old insects were weighed and had their resting metabolic rate assesed by measuring how much carbon dioxide they produced. Crickets with a higher metabolic rate burned more energy and therefore produced more carbon dioxide. They were then left to live out the rest of their days in another container.

As published in Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, crickets with a higher metabolic rate died sooner, proving, as Hosken says, that “males that live fast die young”.

Read more at Wired Science

First quantum computer just sold to Lockheed Martin but binary computers fight back

On Wednesday, D-Wave Systems made history by announcing the sale of the world’s first commercial quantum computer. The buyer was Lockheed Martin Corporation, who will use the machine to help solve some of their “most challenging computation problems.” Lockheed purchased the system, known as D-Wave One, as well as maintenance and associated professional services. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

D-Wave One uses a superconducting 128-qubit (quantum bit) chip, called Rainier, representing the first commercial implementation of a quantum processor.  Built around a superconducting processor, the entire system’s footprint is approximately 100 square feet. The total wall-plug power consumed by a D-Wave One system is 15 kilowatts (a standard laptop uses about 60 watts). Unfortunately the actual speed of the computer is secret, but this is because speed isn’t actually the point of a quantum computer.

A normal computer operates on the basis of units known as bits. Each byte in a normal computer can only be one of 0 or 1 and nothing else. No matter how many bytes you have, each computer at a single point in time can only occupy one combination of these bytes in order for the programming to actually work.

A quantum computer is different from this because of a principle in quantum mechanics known as superposition. The sort of problem that a conventional computer is very slow at which a quantum computer would be very good at are the ones where you are trying to find one out of billions of billions of billions of combinations which produces an answer. A conventional computer has to go through all the possibilities one by one, the quantum computer can in some sense try them all out at once and can therefore do the calculation in far fewer steps. They are however extremely expensive, the DWave has been rumoured to cost a cool $10-Million.

Despite the fact traditional binary machines have started to reach their limits, new emerging concepts are showing incredible promise. Marc McAndrew is one individual who has invented a machine known as The Charity Engine. The surprising thing is it’s more of a concept than an actual computer. McAndrew has realised that the wasted processing power of machines can be collectively harnessed to make the worlds most powerful supercomputer – for nothing.

By simply running his software on your PC (when it’s idle), you’ll be part of the world’s fastest computer, helping research cures for cancer or new technologies. And the best part of this is that the money the network generates from this research goes to charity. It’s infinitely more environmentally friendly and is so revolutionary that the likes of Amnesty International, Water Aid, Oxfam and ActionAid have all created donation programs to plug in to it – they also monitor the research that takes place to make sure it’s all completely 100% ethical from head to toe. McAndrew (an already successful business owner) has also signed up to a The Giving Pledge that guarantees if he ever makes any real money from the business most of his share will go to charity too. Could you ask for more?

You can sign up to the facebook page here, find out when the Engine will be launching and do your bit for charity too. To encourage you, everyone who signs up is automatically entered in to a completely free lottery draw of $1Million.

May 27, 2011

Hot, Rocky Pancake Formed Hawaiian Islands

Like a pig at a luau, the Hawaiian Islands get roasted from below. But — like novice cooks — scientists aren’t sure what kind of heat it takes to really get things cooking.

A new analysis questions the prevailing theory that the islands were formed in sequence by volcanic activity as the Pacific plate drifted over a thin, hot plume rising from deep inside the Earth. Instead, a shallower pocket of abnormally hot rocks could be powering the vacation spot’s famous volcanoes, researchers from MIT and Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, report in the May 27 Science.

Other scientists don’t think the hot plume is done for. “This result, like many results, isn’t the final word,” says Cecily Wolfe, a seismologist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Study coauthor Robert van der Hilst and his colleagues used seismic data to dig through the mantle, the gooey but mostly solid region between the planet’s core and surface, looking layer by layer for sources of heat. The team couldn’t find a plume, but did find something strange to the west of the islands: a pancake-shaped pocket of heat about 650 kilometers underground and up to 2,000 kilometers wide. Rocks in this hot pocket were as much as 300 to 400 degrees Celsius hotter than scientists would expect at that depth.

In order to have formed the Hawaiian Islands, the pancake would need to somehow heat the surface, spurring volcanoes. It’s possible that molten rocks could be bubbling up from the easternmost edge of the pocket like a lava lamp, says van der Hilst, a geophysicist at MIT. But why molten material would rise there isn’t clear.

“Why there’s only one Hawaii and not five or 100, I don’t know,” he says.

A plume, on the other hand, would start much deeper, erupting from the boundary between core and mantle about 2,800 kilometers beneath the surface. In a study published in Science in 2009, Wolfe found a plumelike stream seemingly cooking Hawaii’s bottom.

In her study, Wolfe used sea-bottom sensors near Hawaii to record how shaking from earthquakes traveled through the mantle. Since seismic waves pass more slowly through a patch of hot rocks than a patch of cooler rocks, the waves can pinpoint heat sources directly.

The MIT team, in contrast, didn’t map out the mantle’s hot spots but its rock layers, analyzing earthquake data recorded by global networks far away from Hawaii. Like a parfait, the mantle contains distinct mineral layers determined by heat and pressure. If scientists can spot the transition from one mineral to another, they can roughly infer temperature at that depth.

Neither method is rock solid, Wolfe says, so it will take more work to truly expose Hawaii’s heat source. “Nothing in the earth sciences is perfect,” she says.

Read more at Wired Science

May 26, 2011

Electrons Are Near-Perfect Spheres

A 10-year study has revealed that the electron is very spherical indeed.

To be precise, the electron differs from being perfectly round by less than 0.000000000000000000000000001 cm. To put that in context; if an electron was the size of the solar system, it would be out from being perfectly round by less than the width of a human hair.

The Imperial College team behind the research, which was conducted on molecules of ytterbium flouride, used a laser to make measurements of the motion of electrons, and in particular the wobble they exhibit when spinning. They observed no such wobble, implying that the electron is perfectly round at the levels of precision available, reflected in the figure above.

The co-author of the report describing the research, Jony Hudson, said: “We’re really pleased that we’ve been able to improve our knowledge of one of the basic building blocks of matter. It’s been a very difficult measurement to make, but this knowledge will let us improve our theories of fundamental physics. People are often surprised to hear that our theories of physics aren’t ‘finished’, but in truth they get constantly refined and improved by making ever more accurate measurements like this one.”

Read more at Wired Science

Egyptian Pyramids Found With NASA Satellite

Archaeologists have uncovered as many as 17 buried pyramids in Egypt with the help of NASA satellite imagery, according to a documentary to be aired by the BBC on Monday.

Led by researcher Sarah Parcak at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the team has already confirmed two of the suspected pyramids through excavation work.

The BBC, which funded the research, released the findings this week ahead of a broadcast describing the technique and what was uncovered.

"I couldn't believe we could locate so many sites all over Egypt," Parcak was quoted as telling the BBC. "To excavate a pyramid is the dream of every archaeologist."

The team also found more than 1,000 tombs and 3,000 ancient settlements, according to the report.

Infrared images, which were taken by satellites orbiting 700 kilometers (435 miles) above the Earth, revealed the below-ground structures.

The satellites used powerful cameras that can "pinpoint objects less than one meter (three feet) in diameter on the Earth's surface," the report said.

The technology was helped by the density of houses and other buildings, made of mud brick so that they showed up somewhat clearly against the looser soil cover.

Read more at Discovery News

Pyramid-Exploring Robot Reveals Hidden Hieroglyphs

A robot explorer sent through the Great Pyramid of Giza has begun to unveil some of the secrets behind the 4,500-year-old pharaonic mausoleum as it transmitted the first images behind one of its mysterious doors.

The images revealed hieroglyphs written in red paint that have not been seen by human eyes since the construction of the pyramid. The pictures also unveiled new details about two puzzling copper pins embedded in one of the so called "secret doors."

Published in the Annales du Service Des Antiquities de l'Egypte (ASAE), the images of markings and graffiti could unlock the secrets of the monument's puzzling architecture.

"We believe that if these hieroglyphs could be deciphered they could help Egyptologists work out why these mysterious shafts were built," Rob Richardson, the engineer who designed the robot at the University of Leeds, said.

Built for the pharaoh Cheops, also known as Khufu, the Great Pyramid is the last remaining wonder of the ancient world.

The monument is the largest of a family of three pyramids on the Giza plateau, on the outskirts of Cairo, and has long been rumored to have hidden passageways leading to secret chambers.

Archaeologists have long puzzled over the purpose of four narrow shafts deep inside the pyramid since they were first discovered in 1872.

Two shafts, extend from the upper, or "Kings Chamber" exit into open air. But the lower two, one on the south side and one on the north side in the so-called "Queen's Chamber" disappear within the structures, deepening the pyramid mystery.
invisible soldier

Widely believed to be ritual passageways for the dead pharaoh's soul to reach the afterlife, these 8-inch-square shafts remained unexplored until 1993, when German engineer Rudolf Gantenbrink sent a robot through the southern shaft.

After a steady climb of 213 feet from the heart of the pyramid, the robot came to a stop in front of a mysterious limestone slab adorned with two copper pins.

Nine years later, Hawass explored the southern shaft on live television. As the world held its breath, a tomb-raiding robot pushed a camera through a hole drilled in the copper pinned door -- only to reveal what appeared to be another door.

The following day, Hawass sent the robot through the northern shaft.

After crawling for 213 feet and navigating several sharp bends, the robot came to an abrupt halt in front of another limestone slab.

As with the Gantenbrink door, the stone was adorned with two copper pins.

Read more at Discovery News

May 25, 2011

Rewriting the textbooks: Hydrogen bonds in a bind

There is a reason why ice floats on water, and it is called the hydrogen bond. Whatever that is.
Nobel laureate Linus Pauling thought he knew. In fact, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), which concerns itself with such things, still bases its official definition on the one that appears in Pauling's classic 1939 book The Nature of the Chemical Bond.

A hydrogen bond, in this picture, is what forms when a hydrogen atom that is already stably bound into one molecule finds itself attracted to a highly electronegative atom - one like oxygen, nitrogen or fluorine that likes to suck in electrons and turn into a negatively charged ion - elsewhere in the same molecule or in a nearby molecule.

Take good old H2O. The two hydrogen atoms of a water molecule are bound covalently, through shared electrons, to its central oxygen atom. But should a second water molecule come near, the electron orbiting one of the hydrogen atoms can be drawn towards the second molecule's electron-hungry oxygen.

Ice is less dense than liquid water because, when water molecules are cold and still, weak hydrogen bonds between them keep them consistently at arm's length. In free-flowing water, however, the bonds are continually breaking and reforming, allowing the molecules to jostle closer together.

That is all fine and dandy. But this traditional picture also implies a strict range of admissible hydrogen-bond strengths. Over the past 40 years, though, reams of evidence about much weaker bonds, including ones between hydrogen and elements like carbon, which are not very electronegative, have come to light.

Six years ago, IUPAC set up a committee to clear up the confusion. Its conclusion, set out in a seven-page draft redefinition published last year, is that the hydrogen bond is a far fuzzier entity than we thought. "It is not an interaction with sharp boundaries," says Gautam Desiraju from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, a member of the IUPAC committee.

Read more at New Scientist (Login required)

Rare White Kiwi Chick Born

Manukura - the little white kiwi. from Mike Heydon on Vimeo.

A rare white kiwi chick, named Manukura, hatched on May 1 at New Zealand's national wildlife center. It's believed to be the first all-white kiwi chick born in captivity.

The unusual chick is not an albino, but the rare offspring of kiwi that were transferred the center, called Pukaha Mount Bruce, from Hauturu/Little Barrier Island last year.

"The kiwi population on Little Barrier Island has birds with white markings and some white kiwi, but this was still a big surprise," Pukaha Mount Bruce Board chairman, Bob Francis said in a press release.

Manukura was the thirteenth of fourteen kiwis successfully hatched at Pukaha Mount Bruce this breeding season. When it is old enough to protect itself, Mankura may be released into a wildlife sanctuary.

But wildlife officials say they will make that decision carefully since, as Department of Conservation area manager Chris Lester pointed out, "A white kiwi might really stand out making it more vulnerable."

Read more at Discovery News

Scientists Afflict Computers with Schizophrenia

AUSTIN, Texas — Computer networks that can’t forget fast enough can show symptoms of a kind of virtual schizophrenia, giving researchers further clues to the inner workings of schizophrenic brains, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and Yale University have found.

The researchers used a virtual computer model, or “neural network,” to simulate the excessive release of dopamine in the brain. They found that the network recalled memories in a distinctly schizophrenic-like fashion.

Their results were published in April in Biological Psychiatry.

“The hypothesis is that dopamine encodes the importance — the salience — of experience,” says Uli Grasemann, a graduate student in the Department of Computer Science at The University of Texas at Austin. “When there’s too much dopamine, it leads to exaggerated salience, and the brain ends up learning from things that it shouldn’t be learning from.”

The results bolster a hypothesis known in schizophrenia circles as the hyperlearning hypothesis, which posits that people suffering from schizophrenia have brains that lose the ability to forget or ignore as much as they normally would. Without forgetting, they lose the ability to extract what’s meaningful out of the immensity of stimuli the brain encounters. They start making connections that aren’t real, or drowning in a sea of so many connections they lose the ability to stitch together any kind of coherent story.

Full Story at University of Texas

May 24, 2011

Rapture: Harold Camping issues new apocalypse date

Harold Camping, the voice of Family Radio in Oregon, USA, today announced that the rapture had in fact started, but we couldn’t see it because it was “invisible”.

Camping predicted that on May 21st 2011, 200 Million Christians (all American of course) would be lifted up in to heaven, the rest of us would be left on earth so that God, in all his infinite love, could spend 5 months slowly killing everyone with fireballs, earthquakes and general nastiness.

Thousands of Family Radio listeners donated money, some gave away everything they owned and the estimated $100 Million raised helped plaster billboards across the US and Europe. It also funded a fleet of elaborately emblazoned rapture vans.

Reports of people raptured on May 21 turned out to be elaborately and carefully planned hoaxes (see top image) by non-believers. Also organised were a series of “Rapture After Parties” and similar low profile events across America.

However skeptics may be in for a surprise, according to Camping they haven’t yet escaped judgement. It turns out the rapture was “invisible” and we can’t see it happening.

Camping, now 89 years old, first predicted the rapture in 1994, but changed his mind when it didn’t happen. His third attempt is now 5 months after the 21st of May (October 21) and he is still asking for funds to help spread the word.

According to the New York Times, when asked if his organisation would return any of the money raised, Camping stated “We’re not at the end. Why would we return it?”.

As we get older our brains run out of storage space

The older we get, the more difficulty we seem to have remembering things. We reassure ourselves that our brains’ “hard drives” are too full to handle the new information that comes in daily. But a Johns Hopkins neuroscientist suggests that our aging brains are unable to process this information as “new” because the brain pathways leading to the hippocampus become degraded over time. As a result, our brains cannot accurately “file” new information.

It’s something we just accept: the fact that the older we get, the more difficulty we seem to have remembering things. We can leave our cars in the same parking lot each morning, but unless we park in the same space each and every day, it’s a challenge eight hours later to recall whether we left the SUV in the second or fifth row. Or, we can be introduced to new colleagues at a meeting and will have forgotten their names before the handshake is over. We shrug and nervously reassure ourselves that our brains’ “hard drives” are just too full to handle the barrage of new information that comes in daily.

According to a Johns Hopkins neuroscientist, however, the real trouble is that our aging brains are unable to process this information as “new” because the brain pathways leading to the hippocampus — the area of the brain that stores memories — become degraded over time. As a result, our brains cannot accurately “file” new information (like where we left the car that particular morning), and confusion results.

Full Article at Medical Express

Anyone seen my slippers?

Should the deadly small pox virus be destroyed forever? Ministers disagree

Reuters: Health ministers are deeply divided over setting a date to destroy the world’s remaining known stocks of live smallpox virus, stored in Russia and the United States, diplomatic sources said Friday.

The two powers say that more research is needed into safer vaccines against the deadly disease eradicated more than 30 years ago. They also seek guarantees that all stocks have been destroyed or transferred to their two official repositories due to fears that the virus could be used as a biological weapon.

But their joint proposal to put off for 5 years any decision on the timing of destruction has run into opposition at the annual meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) — where the issue has already been on the agenda for the last 25 years.

“A lot of developing countries would like to see the virus destroyed, first and foremost among them Iran,” a diplomatic source told Reuters.

Iran is already at odds with the U.S. and other powers over its nuclear program. Tehran denies Western accusations that it is seeking a nuclear weapons capability, saying its atomic activities are aimed at generating electricity only.

Many countries say the world’s remaining smallpox virus stocks should be eradicated as the disease no longer exists and the virus is lethal. They also say technology exists to develop new vaccines and antivirals without needing to use live virus.

The U.S.-Russian smallpox resolution is formally backed by 19 other countries, including U.S. allies Britain, Canada and Japan as well as several former republics of the Soviet Union.

The 193-member WHO, a United Nations agency, takes most decisions by consensus, but rules allow for a vote. Debate has been postponed to Monday, a day before the annual assembly ends.

“We expect the resolution to be adopted,” a spokesman at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Geneva told Reuters late Friday.

The WHO certified that smallpox, an acutely contagious disease, was eradicated worldwide in 1979, two years after the last case was detected in Somalia. The disease no longer occurs naturally although a woman died in Britain in 1978 after being accidentally exposed in a laboratory.

But fears have mounted that rogue states or militants could get their hands on stocks and deliberately release the pathogen.

Dr. Nils Daulaire, Director of the U.S. Office of Global Health Affairs, told reporters in Geneva this week: “Vials of smallpox have been discovered deep in freezers. This has been announced. I don’t know how many more of these there might be.”

Full article at NewsDaily

Smallpox at Wikipedia (Warning: some rather unpleasant imagery)

May 23, 2011

How to Control Brains With Light

To get a crash course in a neurological research technique that uses light to manipulate brain cells, watch this video.

Optogenetics allows researchers to investigate real-time neural interactions involved in animal movement, memories, behavior and even consciousness. It’s also proving useful in unraveling the pathology of conditions like depression, seizures and anxiety.

“The problem is that a lot is going on and it’s tough to describe. You’re borrowing genes, putting them into cells, those cells are expressing those genes and doing complex things in reaction to light,” said neuroengineer Ed Boyden of MIT, who helped pioneer the technique 11 years ago. “So we made this video to lend a little clarity to what we do.”

Read more at Wired Science

Llama Poop Helped Inca Thrive

Lots of llama droppings helped the ancient Inca build the largest empire ever to exist in the Americas, according to a new study.

Human populations took off and developed into complex societies in the Andes by switching from hunter-gathering to agriculture centered on maize, according to the research published in the June issue of the journal Antiquity. llama poop helped fertilize that crucial crop.

"This leap occurred 2,700 years ago and was made possible by a huge availability of animal excrement. Organic fertilizers enabled corn to be cultivated at very high altitudes, allowing the Inca to settle and flourish," Alex Chepstow-Lusty, a palaeoecologist from the French Institute for Andean Studies in Lima, Peru, told Discovery News.

The Inca ruled the largest empire on Earth -- stretching from the present-day southern border of Colombia to central Chile -- by the time their last emperor, Atahualpa, was executed by Spanish conquistadors in 1533.

Because the Inca language has no written form -- it has long been considered the only major Bronze Age civilization without a written language -- and due to the destruction of their heritage by the Spanish, the details of their meteoric rise have remained a mystery.

Chepstow-Lusty found reliable witnesses to reconstruct the "extraordinary plant-breeding event" which might be at the basis of the Inca Empire. These were pollen and mites buried in layers of mud on the floor of Lake Marcacocha in the Cuzco region of the Peruvian Andes, where Machu Picchu sits.

Similar to the rings in the trunk of a tree, each layer of sediment represents a fixed period of time. Taking a 6.3-meter (20.6 foot)-long sediment core from the lake bottom, Chepstow-Lusty investigated and radiocarbon-dated organic material from six layers, basically analyzing a 4,200-year-old sediment record.

The researcher found that maize pollen appears for the first time in the lake muds around 700 B.C., showing that the cereal could be cultivated at high altitudes of at least 3,350 meters (10,990 feet) above sea level.

Until then, Andean people were eating potatoes and quinoa, a grain-like plant similar to spinach which is very protein-rich.

According to Graham Thiele, an Andean agriculture specialist at the International Potato Center in Lima, maize indeed made a difference. More energy-dense than potato, it could be stored for much longer and was easier to transport.

"This really matters where there are no flat roads and wheeled vehicles and everything has to be carried on the back of a man or llama," Thiele told Discovery News.

"In addition, maize is more suitable for accumulation in elite controlled stores, and would have supported rent extraction by the emergent Wari and Inca elites. So maize trumps potato on transportability, storage and suitability for paying tribute," he said.

The lake sediment core also revealed that the highest abundance of oribatid mites, which eat animal dung, corresponded with the first appearance of maize.

This would show that, although corn was introduced to South America about 5,000 years ago, it reached the inhospitable Andes only with the help of llama herds. Located next to an ancient trade route between the jungle and the mountains, Marcaccocha was an ideal stop for llamas transporting goods.

Read more at Discovery News

Not So Preposterous This High Ancestral Rhinoceros

A fossil from an extinct relative of the rhinoceros, Telataceras, set the record for highest vertebrate fossil found in Utah.

A jawbone with three molars was found 10,000 feet up Thousand Lake Mountain in Wayne County, Utah. Geologists from the Utah Geological Survey found the fossil while mapping rock layers in the mountain in 2005.

On another expedition in 2006, the geologists found a portion of the skull of another extinct mammal, a brontothere known as Duchesneodus uintensis. The fossils were embedded in sand and gravel that were likely laid down by a river.

Finding the two fossils in the same sediment layer suggested to the scientists that they are around 42 to 37 million years old, from a period known as the Duchesnean Land Mammal Age, during the Eocene Age.

Read more at Discovery News

May 22, 2011

The danger of science denial

"Everyone's entitled to their opinion, they're even entitled to their opinion about progress," says journalist Michael Specter. "But ... you're not entitled to your own facts."

Why is there such a tremendous epidemic of denialism? The main reason is due to our lack of understanding of correlation versus causation. Another is our loss of faith in authority and our mistrust of big government, big corporations and "Big Pharma" (so we then leap into the open arms of big placebo).

"Be skeptical. Ask questions. Demand proof. Demand evidence. Don't take anything for granted," remarks Mr Specter. "But here's the thing: when you get proof, you need to accept the proof. And we're not that good at doing that. ...We're now in an epidemic of fear like one that I've never seen and hope never to see again."

Unfortunately, this fear is motivating people to replace science with a belief in magic, from seemingly harmless magic such as Ginkgo biloba, echinacia, and açaí, to tragic magic such as using coffee enemas to cure cancer, or even insisting that beet root can cure HIV. People fight genetically engineered food, and think it's wrong to patent life and crop seeds -- and they blame science for these problems. But these issues are about law, morality and corporate greed, not science.

"Science is not a company, it's not a country, it's not even an idea. It's a process," Mr Specter points out. "[T]he idea that we should not allow science to do its job because we're afraid is really very deadening, and it's preventing millions of people from prospering."

The solution? Mr Specter mentions that we should fix the system instead of stopping scientific progress.

This interesting presentation explores how denialism impacts humanity with avoidable tragedies:

Even though denialism is a topic that desperately needs to be addressed, and Michael Specter clearly has the passion to advocate on behalf of science, he does not present workable solutions for most of the problems that he describes. I think people are more likely to listen to him if he mentions even one such solution. What are your thoughts?

Read more at The Guardian

Family finds £28,000 in new home – then returns it

Josh Ferrin was exploring the house he had just bought when he made the discovery.

"I freaked out, locked it my car, and called my wife to tell her she wouldn't believe what I had found," said Mr Ferrin, who works as an artist for the Deseret News in Salt Lake City.

Along with his wife and children, they spread out thousands of notes on a table, separating the bundles one by one. They stopped counting at $40,000.

Despite being tempted to keep the money to help him pay for mounting bills and broken down car, Mr Ferrin sought out the children of the home's previous owner, who had died, and gave them the money.

"I'm not perfect, and I wish I could say there was never any doubt in my mind. We knew we had to give it back, but it doesn't mean I didn't think about our car in need of repairs, how we would love to adopt a child and aren't able to do that right now, or fix up our outdated house that we just bought," he said. "But the money wasn't ours to keep and I don't believe you get a chance very often to do something radically honest, to do something ridiculously awesome for someone else and that is a lesson I hope to teach to my children."

From The Telegraph