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Volcanic eruption influenced Iceland’s conversion to Christianity

Memories of the largest lava flood in the history of Iceland, recorded in an apocalyptic medieval poem, were used to drive the island’s conversion to Christianity, new research suggests. A team of scientists and medieval historians, led by the University of Cambridge, has used information contained within ice cores and ...

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The Uneven Gains of Energy Efficiency

This story originally appeared on CityLab and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration. On a rainy day in New Orleans, people file into a beige one-story building on Jefferson Davis Parkway to sign up for the Low-Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a federal grant that helps people keep up with their ...

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Theranos Didn’t Nuke the Diagnostics Business

It took ten years to build the Maverick, a dorm-fridge-sized box that takes in a cartridge with a little bit of blood—more than a drop but, you know, not a pint, either—and spits out new knowledge. On the cartridge is a silicon chip carved with antibody-lined channels; if any of ...

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Brain genes related to innovation revealed in birds

Wild birds that are more clever than others at foraging for food have different levels of a neurotransmitter receptor that has been linked with intelligence in humans, according to a study led by McGill University researchers. The findings could provide insight into the evolutionary mechanisms affecting cognitive traits in a ...

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60-year-old paleontological mystery of a ‘phantom’ dicynodont

A new study has re-discovered fossil collections from a 19th century hermit that validate ‘phantom’ fossil footprints collected in the 1950s showing dicynodonts coexisting with dinosaurs. Before the dinosaurs, around 260 million years ago, a group of early mammal relatives called dicynodonts were the most abundant vertebrate land animals. These ...

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Can Machine Learning Find Meaning in a Mess of Genes?

“We don’t have much ground truth in biology.” According to Barbara Engelhardt, a computer scientist at Princeton University, that’s just one of the many challenges that researchers face when trying to prime traditional machine-learning methods to analyze genomic data. Techniques in artificial intelligence and machine learning are dramatically altering the ...

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