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Monday, marvelous Monday and time for science talk has arrived.  Time to brighten your day with selections from science sites across the globe.  New discoveries, new takes on old knowledge, and other bits of news are all available for the perusing in today's information world.  Today's tidbits include intuition can help guide positive choices, the possibility of medical devices powered by the ear itself, extreme climate preceded the collapse of Maya civilization, resveratrol from grapes and red wine may be a key to fighting prostate cancer, and a new way of making glass.

Pull up that comfy chair and grab a spot on the porch.  There is always plenty of room for everyone.  Another session of Dr. Possum's science education, entertainment, and potluck discussion is set to begin.

Featured Stories
We have all had the feeling of going with out 'gut instincts.'  Now scientists say intuition may help guide positive choices.

...an experiment to put participants through a carefully controlled decision-making process. On a computer screen, participants were shown sequences of pairs of numbers in quick succession. All numbers that appeared on the right of the screen and all on the left were considered a group; each group represented returns on the stock market.

Participants were asked to choose which of the two groups of numbers had the highest average. Because the numbers changed so quickly — two to four pairs were shown every second — the participants were unable to memorize the numbers or do proper mathematical calculations, explains (rsearcher) Prof. Usher. To determine the highest average of either group, they had to rely on "intuitive arithmetic."

The participants were able to calculate the different values accurately at exceptional speed, the researchers found. They were also able to process large amounts of data — in fact, their accuracy increased in relation to the amount of data they were presented. When shown six pairs of numbers, for example, the participants chose accurately 65 percent of the time. But when they were shown 24 pairs, the accuracy rate grew to about 90 percent.

Intuitively, the human brain has the capacity to take in many pieces of information and decide on an overall value, says Prof. Usher. He says that gut reactions can be trusted to make a quality decision.

For the first time an implantable electronic device is powered by natural processes within the ear.
Deep in the inner ear of mammals is a natural battery — a chamber filled with ions that produces an electrical potential to drive neural signals.  ...this battery could power implantable electronic devices without impairing hearing.

The devices could monitor biological activity in the ears of people with hearing or balance impairments, or responses to therapies. Eventually, they might even deliver therapies themselves.

Decades of extreme weather preceded the final collapse of the Maya civilization.
...(researchers collected) a stalagmite from a cave in Belize, less than 1 mile from the Maya site of Uxbenka and about 18 miles from three other important centers. Using oxygen isotope dating in 0.1 millimeter increments along the length of the stalagmite, the scientists uncovered a physical record of rainfall over the past 2,000 years.

Combined, the stalagmite and hieroglyphs allowed the researchers to link precipitation to politics. Periods of high and increasing rainfall coincided with a rise in population and political centers between A.D. 300 and 660. A climate reversal and drying trend between A.D. 660 and 1000 triggered political competition, increased warfare, overall sociopolitical instability, and finally, political collapse. This was followed by an extended drought between A.D. 1020 and 1100 that likely corresponded with crop failures, death, famine, migration and, ultimately, the collapse of the Maya population.

As studies of natural chemicals continues the uses of resveratrol continue to grow with news of possible help in fighting prostate cancer.
Prostate tumor cells contain very low levels of two proteins, perforin and granzyme B, which can function together to kill cells. However, both proteins need to be highly “expressed” to kill tumor cells. In his study, when (researcher) Nicholl introduced resveratrol into the prostate tumor cells, the activity of the two proteins increased greatly. Following radiation treatment, Nicholl found that up to 97 percent of the tumor cells died, which is a much higher percentage than treatment with radiation alone.
A group of researchers discovered a new way of making glass in their study of ways to manage the arrangement of atoms around one another.
As long ago as 1952, Sir Charles Frank at the University of Bristol argued that the structure of glasses should not be entirely disordered like a liquid but rather that it should be filled with structural motifs like the bicapped square antiprism [inset pictured].

Although such motifs have very recently been found in experiments and computer simulations on glassy materials, it has not been clear what role these play in how a liquid becomes a (glassy) solid.

The Düsseldorf and Bristol researchers created a new type of glass in a computer through encouraging atoms in a nickel-phosphorous alloy to form the pictured polyhedron.  When these polyhedra formed, the liquid no longer flowed – it had become a solid. In other words, they found that instead of cooling, a liquid can turn into a glass by changing its structure.

Knucklehead's Photo of the Week
Pajama Pete

PAJAMA PETE DSCN5055

©Knucklehead, all rights reserved, presented by permission.  (Click on the image to see more in the same series.)

Other Worthy Stories of the Week
Origami owlets and other foldable creature cuteness
Volcanic splendor seen from space
Fold Star Wars origami
Total eclipse of the sun coming November 14
Astronomers develop new method to determine neutron star mass
A new technique to protect astronauts from space radiation
Hubble spots a colorful lenticular galaxy  
Scientists discover possible building blocks of ancient life in Earth's most primitive organisms
Endangered corals send chemical signals to helper fish
Researchers develop an effective thermal energy storage system
Tracking post-Sandy sewage
Two new emperor penguin colonies in Antarctica
Greenland rocks provide evidence of Earth formation process
'Groundwater inundation' doubles previous predictions of flooding with future sea level rise
Using rust and water to store solar energy as hydrogen

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Science RSS Feed: Medworm
The Skeptics Guide to the Universe--a combination of hard science and debunking crap

At Daily Kos:
This Week in Science by DarkSyde
Overnight News Digest:Science Saturday by Neon Vincent. OND tech Thursday by rfall.
Pique the Geek by Translator Sunday evenings about 9 Eastern time
All diaries with the DK GreenRoots Tag.
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A More Ancient World by matching mole
Astro Kos
SciTech at Dkos.
Sunday Science Videos by palantir

NASA picture of the day. For more see the NASA image gallery or the Astronomy Picture of the Day Archive
Photobucket
Cygnus OB2, NASA, Public Domain

Originally posted to possum on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 12:30 PM PST.

Also republished by J Town and SciTech.

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