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Duke University

  1. Scientists Created A Molecule That Can Stop You From Feeling Pain And Also Itchiness

    Allergy sufferers of the world, rejoice.

    Pain in general is terrible, but there's a special kind of hell involved when things get both painful and itchy, simultaneously. Researchers at Duke University have been working hard to stop your painful itches in their tracks, and may have developed a molecule that can stop your brain from receiving that exact type of message.

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  2. Think Fast: Study Suggests Playing Video Games Helps You Process Images Faster and Better

    See? Playing video games for all those years really does have a beneficial effect.

    Gamers' minds could have blast processing. In a recent study at Duke University, it was concluded that video game players are quicker and better at responding to visual stimuli than non-gamers. This is because they are able to see more at once. Finally, somewhat definitive proof that we're not just rotting our brains playing hours of games -- we're sharpening them. Shows where gamers are given superpowers, like Captain N or The Last Starfighter, may have even been trying to teach us valuable lessons.

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  3. Wired Telepathy: Neural Implants Let Two Rats Share One Thought

    Researchers at Duke University have successfully wired together the brains of two rats, allowing the animals to share a response to a stimulus -- hitting a switch when a light flashes, for example -- even when only one of them is actually exposed to it. And the connection isn't just for deliberate decision making --after a prolonged period of connection, rats were even able to feel and respond to researchers stroking the whiskers of the rat they are brain linked to.

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  4. College Credit Recommended for Some Free Online Courses, Probably Not Making College Free Quite Yet

    The American Council on Education (ACE) offered a significant boost to the reputation of a handful of free online courses today, recommending that 5 massive open online courses (MOOCs) be made eligible for college credit. Of course, whether -- and when -- schools will take up that recommendation remains to be seen, but even the principle is good news for people looking for ways to make college cheaper for students -- and thus available to more of them.

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  5. Is There Anything It Can’t Do? Researchers Propose Artificial Muscles Made Of Graphene

    We've seen graphene do some amazing things, but every time we think we've seen the coolest potential application for the wonder-substance, it continues to impress. The latest impressive feat? Researchers at Duke University have taken advantage of one of the things that makes graphene difficult to work with -- the fact that it "crumples" easily -- and turned that quality into a desirable trait that they can control. By running the show as graphene crumples and flattens out, the team could one day use the substance to form artificial muscles that expand and contract on command.

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  6. 50-Gigapixel Camera Will Help Horatio Caine Catch Killers

    Someday, people will look back at all the CSI "Enhance!" jokes and never get them. The picture above was taken by AWARE-2, a 50-gigapixel camera system built by a team led by David Brady at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering. As you can see, it has pretty insane enhance capabilities, even though it hasn't reached its 50-gigapixel theoretical limit, so given enough time and funding, we could catch a killer by enhancing a photo of a license plate.

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  7. Study Links Religious Experiences to Brain Shrinkage

    A study published in PLoS ONE by Amy Owen and her colleagues at Duke University showed greater atrophy in the hippocampus of people who identify with a specific religion, as well as people who do not identify with any; basically, the subjects who experienced shrinkage in certain areas of the brain were identified as religious, or specifically not, as opposed to those who are casual about religion.

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  8. Water Contaminated With Explosive Methane from Natural Gas “Fracking”

    In the quest to lower energy costs, natural gas has done quite well for itself thanks in no small part to a controversial extraction method called "fracking." Bearing no relation to the BSG phrase, it refers to the practice of fracturing layers of rock using high-pressure water. Fracking has come under fire in the past because the fluid used in the extraction can contaminate the surrounding areas with dangerous dissolved metals and radioactive material. But a new study reveals that fracking may also be contaminating ground water with explosive methane gas. Hoping to determine the larger impact of fracking, Duke University sampled 68 wells in rural New York and Pennsylvania. These communities were used because of their reliance on ground water, as opposed to more well monitored municipal water. The study found that methane gas was, indeed, infiltrating the water supply. At close proximity to the drill sites, about 1km, the readings were 17 times higher than those at greater distances. More distressing, the study found some samples with methane concentrations from 19.2 to 64 mg per litre. At these concentrations, the gas could potentially be an explosive risk. After looking at the water's isotope ratios and finding both ethane and propane in the water, the team concluded that it had to have come from the deep gas wells which employ fracking. Though it is small consolation, the study also concluded that there was no heavy metal or radioactive contamination in the water due to the drilling. This information will no doubt slow the practice of fracking somewhat, but it will likely take a while (and perhaps many lawsuits) before some residents can be confident about the water they drink. (via Ars Technica, image via Will Montague)

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