sciencehabit writes "A team of American researchers has discovered a small trove of ancient Mayan texts in a surprising place. In a paper published online today in Science, researchers report finding Mayan astronomical tables and other texts painted and incised on the walls of a 1200-year-old residential building at the site of Xultún in Guatemala. The newly discovered astronomical tables are at least 500 years older than those preserved in the Maya codices, giving researchers a new glimpse of science at the height of the Maya civilization. 'I think we are all astonished by this find,' says Stephen Houston, an archaeologist at Brown University who was not part of the team."
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ericjones12398 writes "The Food and Drug Administration is proposing that manufacturers of X-ray machines and CT scanners do more to protect children from radiation exposure. If companies don't take steps to limit X-ray doses, the agency may require a label on their new equipment recommending it not be used on children. X-rays and CT scans can provide doctors with lots of useful information. But the radiation that creates the helpful images also increases a person's risk for cancer. There's been an explosion in the use of imaging tests. And rising radiation doses, particularly from CT scans, have drawn concern. The cancer risk increases with the dose of X-rays received during a person's lifetime, so kids' exposure is particularly important. It's also the case that children are more sensitive to X-ray damage. The FDA is also telling parents to speak up. If a doctor orders a test or procedure that uses X-rays, parents shouldn't be afraid to ask if it's really necessary. Also, it doesn't hurt to ask if there's an acceptable alternative, such as ultrasound or MRI, that doesn't rely on X-rays."
sciencehabit writes "A new study suggests that, by disrupting your body's normal rhythms, your alarm clock could be making you overweight. The study concerns a phenomenon called 'social jetlag.' That's the extent to which our natural sleep patterns are out of synch with our school or work schedules. When we wake up earlier than we're supposed to — or spend all weekend sleeping in and then get up at 6 am on Monday — it makes our body feel like it's spending the weekend in one time zone and the week in another. For people who are already on the heavy side, greater social jet lag corresponds to greater body weight."
surewouldoutlaw writes "Remember that scene in Fantasia where Mickey turns all the brooms into an army of workers? Well, Disney isn't quite there, yet. But scientists with the company's research lab at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh have been able to turn virtually any surface, including liquid water and the human body, into a multi-touch interface. The new system is called Touché, and it is as awesome as it sounds."
sciencehabit writes "Three years ago, a stone-throwing chimpanzee named Santino jolted the research community by providing some of the strongest evidence yet that non-humans could plan ahead. Santino, a resident of the Furuvik Zoo in Gävle, Sweden, calmly gathered stones in the mornings and put them into neat piles, apparently saving them to hurl at visitors when the zoo opened as part of angry and aggressive 'dominance displays.' But some researchers were skeptical that Santino really was planning for a future emotional outburst. Now Santino is back in the scientific literature, the subject of new claims that he has begun to conceal the stones so he can get a closer aim at his targets—further evidence that he is thinking ahead like humans do."
astroengine writes "New analysis of high-resolution images of Mars, taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, show sand dunes in an area known as Nili Patera are shifting as fast as some dunes on Earth — despite a dearth of high-speed winds. Scientists suspect it takes a big wind to get sand particles airborne, but once launched from the surface, they bounce around with ease, thanks to the planet's thin atmosphere and low gravity. 'It's kind of like playing golf on the moon — (the sand) goes really high and far compared to what it does on Earth. When it lands it can pick up really large speeds — even with low wind speeds — and splash a whole bunch of other particles to keep the process going,' Jasper Kok, with the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences department at Cornell University, told Discovery News. This research has strong implications for the understanding of erosion processes on the Red Planet's surface and for future astronauts getting caught in a Martian sandstorm, presumably."
sciencehabit writes "Tiny and efficient, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are supposed to be the bright future of illumination. But they perform best at only low power, enough for a flashlight or the screen of your cellphone. If you increase the current enough for them to light a room like an old-fashioned incandescent bulb, their vaunted efficiency nosedives. It's called LED droop, and it's a real drag on the industry. Now, researchers have found a way to build more efficient LEDs that get more kick from the same amount of current—especially in the hard-to-manufacture green and blue parts of the spectrum."
First time accepted submitter seanzig writes "Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground provides a good overview of the State of the Climate Report from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). May 2011 through Apr. 2012 broke the previous record (Nov. 1999 — Oct. 2000). A number of other interesting records (e.g., warmest March on record) and stats emerged. It just presents the data and does not surmise anything about the causes or what should be done about it."
jsuda writes "You would think that geeks would be as interested in fitness as dogs are of TV. After all, geeks already put in hours of finger dancing on keyboards, assembling hefty code fragments, and juggling PHP programming functions. Although intended, in part, as a guide to real physical fitness the book, Fitness for Geeks, entices geeks with what they are really interested in–the science of fitness, nutrition, and exercise. In 11 chapters over 311 pages (including notes and an index) author, Bruce W Perry, describes in great detail the science of fitness and all of its components–food selections, timings, and fastings; exercising of all types; sleep, rest, and meditation; the benefits of hormesis (shocking the body with stresses); and the benefits of natural sunlight." Read on for the rest of jsuda's review.
Chuckles08 writes "The Encyclopedia of Life project, an online resource aggregating information about all life on Earth, now has over 1 million taxon pages with content. All content is licensed under a Creative Commons license and includes text, over 1.5 million images, video, and sounds. It's an amazing resource for educators since the information is curated and rated. EOL also develops tools to make the content even more accessible, like the field guide tool that lets you build a customized online (and printable) field guide about any group of species or higher taxa."
Hugh Pickens writes "The Atlantic reports that the Israeli parliament has passed legislation that prohibits fashion media and advertising with models who fall below the World Health Organization's standard for malnutrition banning underweight models as determined by Body Mass Index. The new law also stipulates that any ad which uses airbrushing, computer editing, or any other form of Photoshop editing to create a slimmer model must clearly state that fact. Advertising campaigns created outside of Israel must comply with the legislation's standards in order to appear in Israel. 'I realized that only legislation can change the situation,' says Rachel Adato, an Israeli parliament member with a background in medicine. 'There was no time to educate so many people, and the change had be forced on the industry. There was no time to waste, so many girls were dieting to death.' The measure has been controversial within Israel for raising the question of where free speech bumps up against the fashion industry's responsibility — and its possible harm — to its customers' psychological well-being. Donald Downs, a professor at the University of Wisconsin and an expert on the First Amendment, says that it would be very tough to pass something like Israel's law in the US Congress. 'In the US, it would be hard to justify this type of law on either legal or normative policy grounds,' says Downs. 'The Israeli law is paternalistic in that it prohibits something because of the effect it might have on others in the longer term.'"
ananyo writes "Scientists can now add a 'dwarf mammoth' to the list of biological oxymorons that includes the jumbo shrimp and pygmy whale. Studies of fossils discovered last year on the island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea reveal that an extinct species once thought to be a diminutive elephant was actually the smallest mammoth known to have existed — which, as an adult, stood no taller than a modern newborn elephant (abstract). The species is the most extreme example of insular dwarfism yet found in mammoths."
eldavojohn writes "American news outlets like The New York Times seem to thrive on chemophobia — consumer fear of the ambiguous concept of 'chemicals.' As a result, Pulitzer-prize winning science writer Deborah Blum has decided to call out New York Times journalist Nicholas Kirstof for his secondary crusade (she notes he is an admirable journalist in other realms) against chemicals. She's quick to point out the absurdity of fearing chemicals like Hydrogen which could be a puzzler considering its integral role played in life-giving water as well as life-destroying hydrogen cyanide. Another example is O2 versus O3. Blum calls upon journalists to be more specific, to avoid the use of vague terms like 'toxin' let alone 'chemical' and instead inform the public with lengthy chemical names like perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) instead of omitting the actual culprit altogether. Kristof has, of course, resorted to calling makers of these specific compounds 'Big Chem' and Blum chastises his poorly researched reporting along with chemophobic lingo. Chemists of Slashdot, have you found reporting on 'chemicals' to be as poor as Blum alleges or is this no more erroneous than any scare tactic used to move newspapers and garner eyeballs?"
hypnosec writes with good news for folks who want to live in a Faraday cage. From the article: "A new type of wallpaper, which has been developed by scientists from the Institut Polytechnique Grenoble INP and the Centre Technique du Papier, will go on sale in 2013 after a Finnish firm Ahlstrom acquired the license. What looks like a bog-standard wallpaper roll actually contains silver particles that allows it to filter out up to three different frequencies simultaneously. It is not the first time that such a technology has surfaced. Back in 2004, BAE Systems was tasked by Ofcom to come up with a similar solution based on what was then called a stealth wallpaper. It used copper instead of silver and blocked Wi-Fi signals while letting GSM, 4G and emergency calls through. Back then, though, a square meter cost £500, whereas the Wi-Fi wallpaper devised by the French researchers should be priced reasonably, with costs matching those of a 'classic,' mid-range wallpaper according to M. Lemaître-Auger, from Grenoble INP."
scibri writes with bits and pieces from the article: "From the early 1950s to the end of the cold war, nearly 250,000 animals were systematically irradiated in the Russian town of Ozersk. Fearful of a nuclear attack by the United States, the Soviet Union wanted to understand how radiation damages tissues and causes diseases such as cancer. Now, these archives have become important to a new generation of radiobiologists, who want to explore the effects of the extremely low doses of radiation — below 100 millisieverts — that people receive during medical procedures such as computed-tomography diagnostic scans, and by living close to the damaged Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan."