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Oxford University

  1. Want to Be Better at Math? A Jolt of Electricity to the Brain Might Do the Trick

    If you're not great at doing math in your head, you're in pretty good company around these parts. In general, too -- an estimated 20% of otherwise healthy adults regularly struggle to do basic arithmetic without showing their work. Don't give up hope, though! A new treatment being studied at Oxford University could make you better at doing math in your head for up to six months at a time -- and all you have to do is put on what looks like a steampunk gimp mask and let someone deliver electrical shocks to your brain!

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  2. New 3D Printer Makes Synthetic Shapes Imitate Living Tissue

    As 3D printing becomes more popular, accessible, and advanced, researchers and hobbyists alike are using the technology to produce more and more sophisticated items. Crossbows. Animal skeletons. Pretty much anything that fits in an 8-by-8-by-8 inch box. Some of the medical grade work being done on 3D printing, though, makes all of that awesome stuff look like child's play. In the latest example of that sort of work: Scientists at the University of Oxford have created a 3D printer capable of building synthetic shapes that imitate living tissue.

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  3. There’s Science Behind Why We Lose at Games

    Game theory is one common way people analyze decision making, but one facet of game theory is based on the idea that the decision is being made by someone with perfect knowledge of what they're doing. That's not always the case. Sometimes people act irrationally or even randomly, and a pair of professors think they know why. They studied game play and decided that some games are too complex to be fully understood, and that affects the decision making of the players.

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  4. Planet Hunter Volunteers Discover 15 Potentially Habitable Planets, Still No Way to Get There

    Planet Hunters is a project that enlists the help of "citizen scientists" to help sort through the extensive data provided by NASA's Kepler mission. 15 new planets have been discovered by Planet Hunters that fall into the habitable, or "Goldilocks" zone, where the planet is at the right distance from a star to have liquid water. The discovery of the planets could mean there are many more of these worlds than initially thought, which is good news for anyone desperate to get off this planet just as soon as possible.

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  5. Captive Cockatoo Is First Parrot To Spontaneously Invent Its Own Cocka-Tools

    This is Figaro, a Goffin's cockatoo, using a tool he made himself to reach a delicious cashew placed just out of his reach. While more and more birds -- like crows -- are understood to use simple tools, Goffin's cockatoos have never been seen using tools in the wild before, meaning t is the first example of Figaro's species ever using tools -- much less crafting tools themselves without prompting.

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  6. Wikimedia-Sponsored Study Says Wikipedia’s Pretty Accurate

    Wikipedia has never been cited as a sterling example of accuracy. Academics tend to shy away from the site due to the public access given to just about anyone. That said, a number of people continue to use the site as a sort of factual first response. Last November, the Wikimedia Foundation brought in Epic, an e-learning company, and Oxford University researchers to make an organized analysis of Wikipedia's accuracy. The results are in and somewhat suspiciously favorable.

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  7. People From Cold Climates Have Bigger Eyes And Brains

    Researchers from Oxford University have discovered that humans who live in polar regions (far from the equator) have evolved bigger eyes and larger brains to help them process information at the low level of light typical in those areas. A team of anthropologists led by Eiluned Pearce collected 55 skulls dating from the 1800s that represent 12 different populations around the world. By measuring the eye socket and brain volumes and plotting the data against the latitude of each individual's home country, the researchers were able to compare eye and brain size with location. The researchers found a positive correlation between size and latitude. People from cold climates, like the northern-European country of Scandinavia, had the biggest brains, and people from warm climates close to the equator, like Micronesia, had the smallest. According to the researchers, these bigger brains are not the result of increased intelligence, but rather the need for a larger portion of the brain devoted to vision. This helps the brain overcome the low-light conditions caused by bad weather and long winters in northern climates.

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