Science


Chimps can play rock-paper-scissors

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Scotland’s largest solar farm gets green light

Image copyright Elgin Energy Image caption Scotland's largest solar farm currently is at Errol Estate in Perthshire The green light has been given for what will be Scotland's largest solar farm.Moray Council has granted Elgin Energy planning permission for a 20MW project near Urquhart, which could see about 80,000 solar panels installed.The farm will be constructed on the 47-hectare Speyslaw site - the equivalent of about 40 football pitches.The largest Scottish solar farm is currently a 13MW project at Errol Estate in Perthshire, which went live in May last year.Bristol-based Elgin Energy also developed that scheme, which includes 55,000 solar ... Read More

School District: No Outdoor Recess During Eclipse

by AP15 Aug 20170 15 Aug, 201715 Aug, 2017 MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania school district says children won’t be let outside for recess during the Aug. 21 solar eclipse because of the potential harm to students who look at the sun. The Cumberland Valley School District sent a letter to parents Monday saying the decision was made after consulting the district’s physician. The letter says district officials recognize that the opportunity to view an eclipse is rare, but the safety of students is more important. NASA officials recommend viewing the eclipse through specially-made glasses to prevent eye damage ... Read More

Google Home Preview Program is now available to everyone

If that's so, it seems like every Home owner would sign up, so what's the catch? For one, Google is using the preview as a way to spot minor bugs. "If you have a great idea or see a bug while you're using the Preview firmware, send it our way. Your suggestions could help make the product even better," it says. In other words, having braver users working with early production software will make for less problems when it's released widely, and thus fewer headaches for Google's support team. The company ran essentially the same Preview Program with Chromecast to ... Read More

Pen Hadow sets sail for North Pole as Arctic ice melts

British explorer Pen Hadow and his crew have set sail from Alaska, in an attempt to become the first people ever to sail to the North Pole.With Arctic ice melting at an unprecedented rate, previously inaccessible waters are opening up, creating the potential for their planned 5,500 km (3,500 mile) journey for the first time in human history ... Read More

‘Donald Trump forest’ climate change project gains momentum

Image copyright MARTIN BERNETTI Image caption Campaigners hope to plant enough trees to offset the climate impact of President Trump A campaign to plant trees to compensate for the impact of President Trump's climate policies has 120,000 pledges. The project was started by campaigners upset at what they call the president's "ignorance" on climate science. Trump Forest allows people either to plant locally or pay for trees in a number of poorer countries.Mr Trump says staying in the climate pact will damage the US economy, cost jobs and give a competitive advantage to countries such as India and China. The ... Read More

$2.9 Million Pizza-Bot Can Barely Make a Pizza

I’m often pretty pessimistic about the rise of robots. They will, eventually, easily be able to outclass humans in basically everything. And with Tesla looking to make electric, self-driving semis, and the like, that seems more and more like an inevitability with each passing day. But, if your job is making pizzas, you probably don’t have anything to fear just yet. Researchers at the University of Naples Federico II have been trying to get their bot to make the perfect pizza for four years, but it still isn’t working. The Robotic Dynamic Manipulation (RoDyMan, for short) is a pretty impressive ... Read More

Italy official defends killing rare bear after man mauled

Image copyright Alamy Image caption Brown bears now inhabit Italy's Adamello Brenta national park in the Alps An Italian provincial governor has defended the killing of a rare female brown bear in the Alps, saying it was a threat to humans.The 14-year-old bear, called Kj2, was shot dead by foresters on Saturday, after it seriously mauled an elderly man walking his dog last month.Trentino governor Ugo Rossi said the killing would not stop a project to reintroduce bears to the region, but their habitat must be limited.About 50 bears live in the province.Conservation groups have protested over the shooting and ... Read More

The TRAPPIST-1 star system may be too old for life

As the team's Adam Burgasser explains: if there is life, it's the "hardy" sort. It would have to survive extreme conditions for billions of years, he says. The upshot? If there is life, humans will have plenty of time to find it. A dwarf like TRAPPIST-1 is so stable that it should last for 900 times longer than the current age of the universe (around 13.7 billion years), and its temperature will be very consistent throughout that time. The big challenge is using the Hubble and James Webb telescopes to learn whether or not any of the planets have atmospheres ... Read More

AI beats top ‘Dota 2’ players in one-on-one matches

The result is an AI that not only has the fundamentals nailed down, but understands the nuances that take human players a long time to master. It's adept at tricks like zoning (preventing the enemy from hitting your creeps to deny them experience and gold) and raze faking (starting a raze animation to trick an enemy into dodging a non-existent attack). While its actions per minute aren't any better than that of an average flesh-and-bone player, the choices make a huge difference. And it doesn't take too long to learn, either; OpenAI's creation can beat regular Dota 2 bots after ... Read More

Fish sauced? Goldfish turn to alcohol to survive icy winters

Image copyright Mary Evans Picture Library Image caption Goldfish and their relatives have the ability to turn lactic acid into alcohol Scientists have decoded the secrets behind a goldfish's ability to survive in ice-covered lakes. They've worked out how and why the fish turn lactic acid in their bodies into alcohol, as a means of staying alive.Some goldfish were found to have levels well above legal drink-driving limits in many countries.The researchers say the work may help with the study of some alcohol impacts in humans.Scientists have known about the peculiar survival abilities of goldfish and their wild relatives, crucian ... Read More

Climate change has shifted the timing of European floods

Image copyright ASI/Land Tirol/BH Landeck Image caption A summertime flood in the Austrian Tyrol in 2005 Climate change has had a significant impact on the timing of river floods across Europe over the past 50 years, according to a new study. In some regions, such as southern England, floods are now occurring 15 days earlier than they did half a century ago.But the changes aren't uniform, with rivers around the North Sea seeing floods delayed by around eight days.The study has been published in the journal Science.Floods caused by rivers impact more people than any other natural hazard, and the ... Read More

A nearby Sun-like star hosts four Earth-sized planets

Four rocky worlds were found, with two in the habitable zone, about 0.5 and 1.25 times as far from their star as the Earth is from the Sun. That works out well, as Tau Ceti is a bit smaller (78 percent) than the Sun, and is correspondingly less intense. The smallest of the worlds is about 1.7 times the size of Earth, but the habitable zone planets are much larger "super Earths" that could potentially support life. However, Tau Ceti is known to have a big debris disk that probably produces far more impact events via comets and asteroids than ... Read More

Giant dinosaur slims down… a bit

Image copyright AFP Image caption A cast went on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York So, it wasn’t quite as big as they first thought, but the dimensions of the colossal dinosaur unearthed in Argentina in 2014 still take your breath away. Its fossil bones suggested at the time the animal - this week named Patagotitan mayorum - could have tipped the scales at 77 tonnes. Further investigation by scientists now put its likely bulk at 69 tonnes. However, that still makes it one of biggest dinosaurs ever discovered. A team from the Museum of ... Read More

Al Gore on the Paris agreement, Trump and climate change

Former US Vice President Al Gore has said the US will meet the commitments set out by the Paris climate agreement. Speaking to the BBC, Mr Gore said "state governments, local governments and businesses are moving forward with reductions in spite of Donald Trump." ... Read More

First ‘winged’ mammals flew over dinosaurs

Image copyright April I. Neander/UChicago Image caption The new species of winged-mammal Maiopatagium in a Jurassic forest Fossils of the first "winged" mammals, from 160 million years ago, have been discovered in China.They reveal that mammal ancestors evolved to glide between trees in a similar way to some mammals today.This adds to evidence that mammals were more diverse during the age of dinosaurs than previously realised.The work is published by an international team of scientists in this week's Nature.The two new fossil species exhibit highly specialised characteristics, including adaptations that allowed them to climb trees, roost on branches and glide.This ... Read More

Exposure to oil sends birds off course

Image copyright MOira McKernan Even light exposure to oil from disasters like the Deep Water Horizon oil spill makes flying more difficult for birds, a study has revealed.US biologists used homing pigeons to test the potential impacts of oil spills on birds' flight. "Lightly oiled" pigeons, they found, veered off course and took longer to return and longer to recover than birds with no oil on their feathers. The results are published in the journal Environmental Pollution.It is the first time that the effects of low level exposure to crude oil on long-distance bird flight patterns have been tested and ... Read More

Electrofishing: Saviour of the sea or fracking of the oceans?

The Netherlands is testing a new technique to fish - using electric currents. Electrofishing is controversial and is banned by the EU, but can be used on an experimental basis.Critics argue it is cruel because it breaks the backs of some larger cod. But advocates say it is less damaging for the environment than traditional beam trawling.James Clayton reports for BBC Newsnight ... Read More

‘Unusual’ Greenland wildfires linked to peat

Image copyright Deimos Imaging, an UrtheCast Company Image caption Smouldering fires in Greenland are believed to be burning peat New images have been released of wildfires that continue to burn close to the Greenland ice sheet, on the country's west coast. Fires are rare on an island where 80% of the land is covered by ice up to 3km thick in places.However, satellites have observed smoke and flames north-east of a town called Sisimiut since 31 July.Experts believe at least two fires are burning in peat that may have dried out as temperatures have risen. A song of fire and ... Read More

Penguin feathers record migration route

Image copyright Chinstraps How do you trace where a penguin has swum across the vastness of the Southern Ocean?The surprising answer is from the chemistry of a single tail feather.Incredibly, specific compounds in penguin feather proteins allow scientists to track the birds’ migration over many hundreds of kilometres. The plumage records a kind of "chemical passport" stamped with a signature of the locations visited.Dr Michael Polito, of Louisiana State University, US, told BBC News: "You can say: 'penguins are where they eat,' because a geochemical signature of their wintering area is imprinted into their feathers."Two species of penguin - Chinstraps ... Read More
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