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  • Jennifer Macalady & Laurie Santos
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  • News

    Children may be especially vulnerable to peer pressure from robots

    Peer pressure can be tough for kids to resist, even if it comes from robots.

    School-aged children tend to echo the incorrect but unanimous responses of a group of robots to a simple visual task, a new study finds. In contrast, adults who often go along with the errant judgments of human peers resist such social pressure applied by robots, researchers report August 15 in Science Robotics...

    08/15/2018 - 14:00 Robotics, Psychology
  • News

    A new computer program generates eerily realistic fake videos

    “The camera never lies” is a thing of the past.

    A new computer program can manipulate a video such that the person on-screen mirrors the movements and expressions of someone in a different video. Unlike other film-fudging software, this program can tamper with far more than facial expressions. The algorithm, to be presented August 16 at the 2018 SIGGRAPH meeting in Vancouver, also tweaks...

    08/14/2018 - 10:33 Computing, Technology, Science & Society
  • Screentime

    Scientists-turned-students guide viewers through ‘The Most Unknown’

    When pondering the deepest scientific questions — What is time? What is consciousness? Is there life on other worlds? — it helps to have a knowledgeable guide. But not too knowledgeable.

    In The Most Unknown, a documentary now available on Netflix, nine scientists perform a research round robin: Each one visits another from an entirely different discipline. Esteemed experts in their own...

    08/14/2018 - 08:00 Science & Society
  • News

    Researchers say CRISPR edits to a human embryo worked. But critics still doubt it

    When researchers announced last year that they had edited human embryos to repair a damaged gene that can lead to heart failure, critics called the report into question.

    Now new evidence confirms that the gene editing was successful, reproductive and developmental biologist Shoukhrat Mitalipov and colleagues report August 8 in Nature. “All of our conclusions were basically right,”...

    08/08/2018 - 14:45 Genetics, Science & Society
  • News

    The debate over people’s pathway into the Americas heats up

    Despite recently getting a cold shoulder from some researchers, a long-standing idea that North America’s first settlers entered the continent via an ice-free inland corridor boasts more scientific support than any other proposal, an international team says.

    New World colonizers from Asia may also have traveled by canoe down the Northwest Pacific Coast and perhaps much farther, as...

    08/08/2018 - 14:00 Archaeology, Anthropology, Genetics
  • Scicurious

    For popularity on Twitter, partisanship pays

    When it comes to politics, people on one side of the aisle often love to accuse everyone on the other of living in an echo chamber. Liberals hear only what they want to hear, while conservatives read only the news they agree with. (Of course, all those making the accusations are not in bubbles themselves. Oh no, of course not.)

    A study published earlier this year suggests that those...

    08/07/2018 - 07:00 Science & Society
  • News

    The ‘language gene’ didn’t give humans a big leg up in evolution

    Humans’ gift of gab probably wasn’t the evolutionary boon that scientists once thought.   

    There’s no evidence that FOXP2, sometimes called “the language gene,” gave humans such a big evolutionary advantage that it was quickly adopted across the species, what scientists call a selective sweep. That finding, reported online August 2 in Cell, follows years of debate about the role of FOXP2...

    08/03/2018 - 07:00 Genetics, Molecular Evolution, Ancestry
  • News

    Hurricane Maria’s death toll in Puerto Rico topped 1,100, a new study says

    The question of how many died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria has yet another answer.

    Using vital statistics records from hard-hit Puerto Rico, researchers estimate that 1,139 more people died than expected from September 20, 2017 — the day the Category 5 hurricane made landfall — through that December.

    Alexis Santos-Lozada of Penn State and Jeffrey Howard of the University of...

    08/02/2018 - 14:46 Health, Science & Society
  • News in Brief

    Indonesia’s pygmies didn’t descend from hobbits, DNA analysis suggests

    Hobbits took a separate evolutionary path to becoming small than did short, modern-day humans living on the same Indonesian island, a new DNA analysis suggests.

    Rampasasa pygmies residing near a cave on Flores that previously yielded small-bodied hobbit fossils inherited DNA from Neandertals and Denisovans but not from any other now-extinct hominid, an international team of researchers...

    08/02/2018 - 14:00 Genetics, Anthropology
  • News

    Cremated remains reveal hints of who is buried at Stonehenge

    Stonehenge attracted the dead from far beyond its location in southern England.

    A new analysis of cremated human remains interred at the iconic site between around 5,000 and 4,400 years ago provides the first glimpse of who was buried there. Some were outsiders who probably spent the last decade or so of their lives in what’s now West Wales, more than 200 kilometers west of Stonehenge,...

    08/02/2018 - 09:00 Anthropology, Archaeology