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Smart card taps track clogs on London's Tube

A map of the London tube

Smart card data are helping to unravel which stations in the London Underground system, above, may be most vulnerable to traffic jams.

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Your smart card could be key in making the subway more efficient. By tracking passengers' smart card use when entering and exiting the London Underground subway system, researchers have developed a model of passengers’ travel patterns that can be used to estimate how vulnerable stations are to closures and other kinds of service disruptions.

Transportation planners could use a station’s vulnerability score to prepare more thorough backup plans for each kind of disruption, the scientists suggest April 20 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They say the model can be applied to any transportation system that uses smart card technology. Building the model also shows how researchers can extract useful information from large amounts of data streaming in from the technologies we use every day.

Neuroscience

Sky’s brilliant hues may help bodies keep time

By Ashley Yeager 3:00pm, April 17, 2015
The internal clocks of mice are sensitive to changes in the sky’s colors. Humans’ clocks may work similarly, offering a tool to trump jet lag.
Toxicology

Low levels of lead linked to lower test scores in children

By Beth Mole 12:00pm, April 17, 2015
A large study in grade-school children finds that even low blood levels of lead may be associated with poor school performance.
Planetary Science,, Earth

The moon is about as old as we thought it was

By Helen Thompson 6:00am, April 17, 2015
Meteorite heat signatures pinpoint the age of the collision that created the moon — confirming many previous lunar age estimates.
Astronomy,, Cosmology

Map pinpoints location of invisible dark matter

By Andrew Grant 3:05pm, April 14, 2015
A new map shows that dark matter is concentrated in regions that contain a lot of ordinary matter in the form of galaxy clusters.
Planetary Science

Atmospheric water may be giving Saturn its spots

By Helen Thompson 10:57am, April 14, 2015
Planetary scientists think that water in Saturn’s atmosphere could be driving the massive storms that appear every few decades in the ringed planet’s atmosphere.
Plants,, Science & Society

Plants suck in nicotine from nearby smokers

By Susan Milius 12:27pm, April 13, 2015
Peppermint plants can build up nicotine from tobacco dropped on their soil or smoked indoors.
Psychology

Saying ‘I’ and ‘me’ all the time doesn’t make you a narcissist

By Bruce Bower 4:15pm, April 10, 2015
People who utter lots of first-person singular pronouns such as "I" and "me" score no higher on narcissism questionnaires than peers who engage in little "I"-talk.
Genetics,, Evolution

Mountain gorilla genome reveals inbreeding

By Tina Hesman Saey 5:26pm, April 9, 2015
Mountain gorillas are highly inbred, with good and bad consequences.
Paleontology,, Ecology

Tyrannosaurs fought and ate each other

By Helen Thompson 3:23pm, April 9, 2015
Evidence from a tyrannosaur skull and jaw fossils add to the argument that the ancient reptiles fought and weren’t above scavenging their own.
Genetics,, Microbiology,, Anthropology

Mummies tell tuberculosis tales from the crypt

By Helen Thompson 4:51pm, April 8, 2015
Hungarian mummies contracted multiple strains of tuberculosis at the same time, researchers find.
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