Science

Self-awareness (probably) isn’t unique to humans

Self-awareness (probably) isn’t unique to humans

You've likely heard it said that humans are distinguished by their self-awareness, but researchers are saying that such statements might be bull. According to recent research, humans likely aren't the only creatures on this planet to possess self-awareness, with some animals possessing at least a primitive level of awareness of self. The key is mental simulation of an environment and the need for at least a low level of self awareness to do that, and signs that some animals are capable of such environmental simulation.

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Researchers create engine powered by water evaporation

Researchers create engine powered by water evaporation

A Columbia University team of researchers have created what is said to be the first ever engine that is driven by evaporation. The engine, in this case, is small and made of plastic and able to power LED lights and similar mild tasks when exposed to a plain puddle of water. The engine is being hailed as a scientific breakthrough, and it could in the future prove to be an inexpensive and effective way to generate useable amounts of energy from commonly found bodies of water.

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While dinosaurs didn’t rule the ancient tropics, alligators did

While dinosaurs didn’t rule the ancient tropics, alligators did

University of Utah paleontologist Randall Irmis and his colleagues have discovered some of the reasons why dinosaurs avoided the ancient tropics. It's partially because they just did not like the weather. You like what you're used to, after all. These researchers suggest that while dinosaurs did not enjoy the dry, hot landscape, other creatures roamed relatively freely. This included the armored aetosaurs and long-snouted phytosaurs you see in the image above. The latter is of the family that eventually gave rise to what we know today as alligators and crocodiles.

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Big dinos avoided the tropics due to chaotic climates

Big dinos avoided the tropics due to chaotic climates

Big dinosaurs, it turns out, avoided the tropics for millions of years due to chaotic, unpredictable climates. Such drastic changes in the climate would have been detrimental to survival, causing the larger dinosaurs to avoid such regions for tens of millions of years. Small carnivorous dinosaurs could have been found in the tropics, but researchers discovered that the larger plant eating dinosaurs stuck to high latitudes during the Triassic period. Climate, it turns out, was to blame for such dinosaur distributions.

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NASA shows off its first 4K ISS video

NASA shows off its first 4K ISS video

For decades, NASA has been big on getting normal, everyday Americans excited about space exploration and travel. One of the ways it gets the public involved with space is by releasing lots of beautiful photos and videos for people to check out. To make space look better to those interested enough in it to vote for elected officials that support giving NASA money for space exploration, NASA has always moved its video and photo technology along as technology progressed.

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Your Sunday Space Surprise: Philae is alive!

Your Sunday Space Surprise: Philae is alive!

Scientists at the European Space Agency have had a Sunday surprise, with the plucky Philae lander unexpectedly waking up after over half a year of hibernation. The probe landed on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November 2014, but celebrations quickly soured when the ESA team realized its positioning would leave it short on sunlight for its solar panels. After around 60 hours of operation, Philae shut down and left the scientists uncertain whether it would be heard from again.

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This “genetic switch” could explain the big gonad decision

This “genetic switch” could explain the big gonad decision

A groundbreaking study could answer fundamental questions about gender and sex determination, and the process by which cells become either eggs or sperm. While males and females may come from the same basic beginnings, it was unclear until now how the reproductive precursor cells in vertebrates went on to become either the sperm in males or the eggs in females. Turns out, new research from Japan indicates, it's all down to a gene that's particularly active in female animals.

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NASA photographs Pluto: watch New Horizons approach

NASA photographs Pluto: watch New Horizons approach

Today NASA's New Horizons spacecraft presented a series of images beamed back from space as it moves close to Pluto. Closer than we've ever been before. This mission's images - attained between May 29th and June 2nd, show Pluto as a "complex world with very bright and very dark terrain." NASA suggests that these images "afford the best views ever obtained of the Pluto system." Below you'll see these images in their full glory - and NASA's provided links to RAW images as well, if that's what you're all about.

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English high school student discovers exoplanet

English high school student discovers exoplanet

Discovering a new planet is something that many astronomers dream of and at the ripe age of 15-years-old, an English high school student named Tom Wagg has done just that. Wagg has discovered a gas-giant exoplanet that he first came across two years ago while he was doing a work-experience study at Keele University in England. Additional observations of the planet have now been made and the existence of the planet has been confirmed.

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Ancient genomics reveal Bronze Age secrets

Ancient genomics reveal Bronze Age secrets

Trying to glean some details about long gone ages isn't easy, and though there's a wealth of knowledge already discerned, a lot of things are still called into question. Thanks to ancient genomics, though, the practice of sequencing ancient genomes, researchers are learning more about the Eurasian Bronze Age and some of the secrets it has long retained. The time period runs from approximately 3000BC to 1000BC, and was a big transitioning period for many things: culture, technology, and more.

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