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Toxin Resistance Suggests That Evolution Can Be Predictable

Resistance to toxins produced by certain plants and toads has evolved independently through a similar molecular mechanism across an unprecedented range of animals, from insects to snakes to hedgehogs. The work, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week, suggests that there is some predictability to evolution.  Examples of convergent evolution are everywhere: bat,…

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How Music Can Help Relieve Chronic Pain

As the 17th-century English playwright William Congreve said: “Music has charms to soothe a savage breast.” It is known that listening to music can significantly enhance our health and general feelings of well-being. An important and growing area of research concerns how music helps to mitigate pain and its negative effects. Music has been shown to reduce anxiety,…

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Sperm Whales Have Local Dialects, New Study Shows

A sperm whale’s “click” is the loudest sound produced by any animal – and it has an identifying dialect. In fact, according to a study published in Nature Communications, the whales aren’t born with different vocal chords or a bit of the sea particularly suited to a certain kind of click. They simply acquire their dialects…

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How Ready For Climate Change Is Your Town Or City?

More than half the world’s population now lives in cities or urban areas, which means our vulnerability to the impacts of climate change is tied up with cities’ ability to cope. Responsible for more than 70% of carbon emissions, it is increasingly understood that cities must lead in tackling these problems and adapt to changes…

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Spectacular New Images Of Pluto Released

The wait is finally over as NASA has just released the most recent close-up images of everyone’s favorite dwarf planet – Pluto. The stunning new images reveal a varied and complex terrain.  “Pluto is showing us a diversity of landforms and complexity of processes that rival anything we’ve seen in the solar system,” said New Horizons Principal Investigator…

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Real Crisis In Psychology Isn’t That Studies Don’t Replicate, But That We Usually Don’t Even Try

Psychology is still digesting the implications of a large study published last month, in which a team led by University of Virginia’s Brian Nosek repeated 100 psychological experimentsand found that only 36% of originally “significant” (in the statistical sense) results were replicated. Commentators are divided over how much to worry about the news. Some psychologists have suggested that…

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How Do Archaeologists Discover Forgotten Ancient Monuments?

The popular image of an archaeologist is someone who spends most of their time on their knees painstakingly excavating sites. Although excavation is still one of archaeology’s principal research methods, it is not without problems: it is slow, expensive and can cover only relatively small areas of a site. Most problematic of all, it destroys…