Week In STEM-5th Dec

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Rude behavior spreads like a disease

In a series of studies, researchers at the University of Florida demonstrate that being the target of rude behavior, or even simply witnessing rude behavior, induces rudeness. People exposed to rude behavior tend to have concepts associated with rudeness activated in their minds, and consequently may interpret ambiguous but benign behaviors as rude. More significantly, they themselves are more likely to behave rudely toward others, and to evoke hostility, negative affect, and even revenge from others.

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Biologists create more precise molecular scissors for genome editing

By tweaking an enzyme that cuts DNA, synthetic biologists say that they can make genome editing even more specific — an essential improvement if the technique is to be deployed in the clinic to treat genetic diseases.

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Scientists have identified the genes responsible for ageing

Scientists in Switzerland have waded through 40,000 genes from three different organisms to identify the genes responsible for physical ageing.

The team from ETH Zurich also discovered that when these genes are altered, the healthy lifespan of laboratory animals could be extended, offering up the possibility of achieving something similar in humans.

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A new start-up wants to transfer your consciousness to an artificial body

Death is the one thing that’s guaranteed in today’s uncertain word, but now a new start-up called Humai thinks it might be able to get rid of that inconvenient problem for us too, by promising to transfer people’s consciousness into a new, artificial body.

If it sounds like science fiction, and that’s because it still is, with none of the technology required for Humai’s business plan currently up and running. But that’s not deterring the company’s CEO, Josh Bocanegra, who says his team will resurrect their first human within 30 years.

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Scientists have figured out how to store electricity in ‘paper’

Scientists in Sweden have developed what they call “power paper” – a thin, paper-like material with a remarkable capacity to store energy.

Just one sheet of the material measuring 15 centimetres in diameter and less than 0.5 millimetre thick can store 1 farad of electrical capacitance, which is about the same as many supercapacitors used in electric devices today.

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Ancient DNA reveals how agriculture changed our height, digestion, and skin colour

For the first time, researchers have analysed ancient DNA taken from humans who lived before, during, and after the agricultural revolution, allowing them to map how our ancestors’ genomes changed in response to societal shifts.

It’s long been known that farming changed humans forever, right down to our DNA, but until now those changes have been pieced together by looking at genetic variations in today’s populations, which are simply echoes of what happened back then. The new research, however, allows scientists to see those changes almost in real time.

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A mission to drill right through Earth’s crust

This week marks the start of a new project to drill below Earth’s crust into the planet’s mantle – that rocky shell a couple of thousand kilometres thick. Geologists have been trying for almost 60 years to reach this depth, but no one has yet succeeded: the latest mission might just have the technology and the funding to make it happen.

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Physicists confirm that time moves forward even in the quantum world

For the first time, an experiment has confirmed that the laws of thermodynamics hold true even at the quantum level – which means that even in the quantum world, you can’t unspill that glass of milk.

The reason time runs the way it does in our everyday lives is because of the second law of thermodynamics, which states that over time all systems become more disordered, or increase in entropy. And that process is irreversible, which is why time only moves forward. But theoretical physicists had predicted that on the quantum level, the process might go both ways.

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