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News & Comment

News & Comment
Nature PastCast Each month the PastCast delves into Nature’s archive to bring you the key papers and hidden gems from the back catalogue. In the March Pastcast: As the World War I drew to an end, astronomer Arthur Eddington set out to measure a solar eclipse to test Einstein’s just-published general theory of relativity.

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OMG Facts When you repeat a word continuously and it loses meaning, it’s called “jamais vu.” Jamais vu means “never seen” and is considered the opposite or reverse of déjà vu. It means the sense of unfamiliarity in the presence of very familiar things, situations or words. It’s been observed and estimated that 60% of people have experienced jamais vu before. Jamais vu was first recognized about 100 years ago and musicians are prone to getting it while playing a familiar passage. The brain is fatigued in a way when jamais vu occurs. Anime Expo 2011: Sunday (100+ photos) Sunday’s attendance seemed to drop when compared to the heights seen on Friday and Saturday. In addition to all the normal activities you’d find at a convention like Anime Expo, the official AX 2011 cosplay masquerade was scheduled to happen on that evening. Due to my incredible experience at WonderCon’s masquerade earlier in the year, I was extremely excited for the chance to see award-winning costumes getting a moment to shine on stage for the chance at winning thousands of dollars in prizes. Other than that, I still spent the majority of my day hopping around from place to place with my trusty camera in tow. By nightfall, my photo count for Sunday was nearing 140 pictures. Hit the jump when you’re ready to head into the breach once more.

Severe nuclear reactor accidents likely every 10 to 20 years, European study suggests Western Europe has the worldwide highest risk of radioactive contamination caused by major reactor accidents. Catastrophic nuclear accidents such as the core meltdowns in Chernobyl and Fukushima are more likely to happen than previously assumed. Based on the operating hours of all civil nuclear reactors and the number of nuclear meltdowns that have occurred, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz have calculated that such events may occur once every 10 to 20 years (based on the current number of reactors) -- some 200 times more often than estimated in the past.

A Reboot of the Legendary Physics Site ArXiv Could Shape Open Science In the early days of the Internet, scientists erected their own online network, a digital utopia that still stands today. Here, astronomers, physicists, mathematicians, computational biologists, and computer scientists come together to discuss heady, cosmic topics. They exchange knowledge—without exchanging money. It’s called arXiv, and it’s where researchers go to post their ideas for discussion, sharing PDFs of their scientific articles before they’re locked behind a journal’s paywall. ArXiv is about to celebrate its 25th birthday.

'Life' gene missing on volcanoes 11 June 2012Last updated at 19:50 ET A gene thought previously to be present in all life on earth is missing in microbes in volcanoes A gene thought previously to be present in all life on earth is missing in microbes living in boiling acid near the summits of volcanoes. The protein, thought to be one of the fundamental building-blocks of life, is not present in certain volcanic single cell organisms. St Andrews university scientists studied archaea, which are similar to bacteria but have a separate origin. They found the expected gene missing and another in its place.

Embracing The Humanities: A Perspective From Physics According to neuroscientist and author Sam Harris, science can answer moral questions. According to philosopher Alex Rosenberg, science can answer "persistent philosophical questions," including the purpose of life and the meaning of human history. According to geneticist-turned-writer Adam Rutherford, "the domain of knowledge amenable to science has only ever changed in one direction: at the expense of all others." Against this backdrop, it's natural to wonder what's left for the humanities to answer or reveal. As scientific methods answer more and more, is the scope of humanistic inquiry reduced to less and less? According to Jenann Ismael, a professor of philosophy and author of How Physics Makes Us Free, the value of humanistic inquiry is in no way diminished nor undermined by science.

As the climate changes, extreme weather isn't that extreme any more Britain and northern Europe are dripping their way into what is already being called a "lost summer". We have had our wettest April and June and our coldest spring, and there is no end in sight of the abnormal weather. But we can take some comfort in the fact that we are not alone. In the US, 100 million people in 17 states have now had to be warned about the dangers of one of most intense heatwaves of the last century. Life in many US cities has become unbearable, with temperatures well over 100F (38C) lasting for many days now.

Rotation Of Earth Plunges Entire North American Continent Into Darkness NEW YORK—Millions of eyewitnesses watched in stunned horror Tuesday as light emptied from the sky, plunging the U.S. and neighboring countries into darkness. As the hours progressed, conditions only worsened. Enlarge Image Neil Armstrong: The Man and the Moon F. Scott Fitzgerald was wrong. He didn’t know it, and he couldn’t have guessed it, and it wasn’t his fault; but he was wrong. On the final page of “The Great Gatsby,” he thought—or allowed Nick Carraway to think—of Dutch sailors sighting America, “a fresh, green breast of a new world.” To set foot upon that greenness was not an invasion, but a gasp: “For a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate with his capacity for wonder.”

Curiosity finds organics on Mars, but possibly not of Mars High performance access to file storage NASA says that no, it hasn't found definite proof that Mars has its own organic compounds, but that it has found some very interesting indications that need to be checked. Everyone just hold your horses (click to enlarge)