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Scientific Discoveries

Scientific Discoveries this Week - 11/10/14

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Written by Magnus Chun

Posted on 11 November 2014

Melbourne, Australia- It is a known fact that there is no way the temperature can go below absolute zero, or negative 273 Kelvin. This is the point where all motion in matter stops and is thought to be unreachable. However, recent experiments using ultracold atoms have measured temperatures that are negative in the absolute temperature scale. Tapio Simula, Monash Research Fellow in Physics at Monash University, states, "The journey there, however, is quite the opposite to what you might expect. Simply removing heat from the equation to make things colder and colder is not the answer. Instead, you need to heat things hotter than infinitely hot!". Research at Monash University is showing that under very special circumstances, a system may become more ordered when more energy is added beyond a value which corresponds to an infinite temperature.

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Scientific Discoveries this Week - 11/02/14

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Written by Magnus Chun

Posted on 11 November 2014

California, USA: Researchers at University of California, San Francisco have found new genes that play a role in causing autism. Scientists identified 60 genes with a greater than 90% chance of increasing a child's autism risk. The researchers say these genes appear to be clustering around three sets of key biological functions: development of synapses in the brain, creation of genetic instructions, and DNA packaging within cells. Dr. Matthew State, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, believes that the most important thing to take away from the studies is a new knowledge base. Instead of focusing on environmental factors, he says these studies are focusing on what happens inside of the brain.

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Scientific Discoveries this Week - 10/26/14

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Written by Magnus Chun

Posted on 11 November 2014

Austin, Texas: A new study has found that the brain mechanisms engaged when people allow their minds to rest and reflect on things they have learned before may actually boost later learning. Researchers at University of Texas at Austin have concluded that mental rest strengthens and consolidates memories from recent learning tasks that will in fact boost future learning. Margaret Schlichting, a graduate student researcher, and Alison Preston, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience, gave participants in the study two learning tasks in which participants were asked to memorize different series of associated photo pairs. Between the tasks, participants rested and could think about anything they chose. Brain scans showed that threads of information were making connections that helped in absorbing information for a later use. Preston suggests that this can be applied to everyday learning. Teachers or professors can spark initial thinking of what students already know before actually teaching a new topic, in order to help students' transition and connect their knowledge with new topics.

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Scientific Discoveries this Week - 10/20/14

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Written by Magnus Chun

Posted on 22 October 2014

Japan- Dr. Misao Fukuda of the M&K Health Institute in Japan found evidence to support the possibility that human sex ratios may be influenced by temperature, although in a more subtle way, through a different mechanism. Research shows that in 1968, 1.07 boys were born in Japan for every girl. By 2012, that was down to 1.05. "Male conception seems to be especially vulnerable to external stress factors, including climate changes," Fukuda concludes. Furthermore, Fukuda investigated the data for fetal deaths in the ratio of male to female, which were 2 male per female. Nonetheless, changes to sex ratios for humans are so small that, there is no threat to our survival. But, "an increase in miscarriages for all fetuses may be one more effect of rapidly changing climates," Fukuda says.

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Scientific Discoveries this Week - 9/29/14

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Written by Jacqueline Feuerborn

Posted on 29 September 2014

USA- In March, Harvard Physicists announced that they had found evidence of gravitation waves- variations in gravitational strength throughout space, which could act as crucial evidence for the Big Bang. However, new data from the Planck satellite shows that more dust is present in space than was expected. This means it is quite likely that the signals that were believed to be gravitational waves, in fact, could have simply been signals that were distorted from the dust. While this does not disprove the existence of gravitational waves, it does cast some doubt on the supposed confirmation of their existence.

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