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More Americans are coming to accept Charles Darwin's "dangerous idea" of evolution, according to thirty years' worth of national surveys.

Researchers have found that public acceptance of biological evolution has increased substantially in the last decade alone, following twenty years of relative stagnancy.

Between 1985 and 2010, roughly 40 percent of surveyed adults in the US agreed that "human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals". Taking into account the small number of fence-sitters, this suggests much of the nation was evenly divided on the theory.

By 2016, that percentage had, at last, become a majority, reaching 54 percent.

As it turns out, education has played a crucial role in that shift. When researchers began to analyze the demographics of survey respondents over the past thirty years, they noticed the completion of one or more college science courses was the strongest predictor of evolution acceptance.

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Almost 90 years ago, Japanese soldiers occupying northern China forced a Chinese man to help build a bridge across the Songhua River in Harbin. While his supervisors weren’t looking, he found a treasure: a remarkably complete human skull buried in the riverbank. He wrapped up the heavy cranium and hid it in a well to prevent his Japanese supervisors from finding it. Today, the skull is finally coming out of hiding, and it has a new name: Dragon Man, the newest member of the human family, who lived more than 146,000 years ago.

In three papers in the year-old journal The Innovation, paleontologist Qiang Ji of Hebei GEO University and his team call the new species Homo longi. (Long means dragon in Mandarin.) They also claim the new species belongs to the sister group of H. sapiens, and thus, an even closer relative of humans than Neanderthals. Other researchers question that idea of a new species and the team’s analysis of the human family tree. But they suspect the large skull has an equally exciting identity: They think it may be the long-sought skull of a Denisovan, an elusive human ancestor from Asia known chiefly from DNA.

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The chorus of the theme song for the movie Fame, performed by actress Irene Cara, includes the line “I’m gonna live forever.” Cara was, of course, singing about the posthumous longevity that fame can confer. But a literal expression of this hubris resonates in some corners of the world—especially in the technology industry. In Silicon Valley, immortality is sometimes elevated to the status of a corporeal goal. Plenty of big names in big tech have sunk funding into ventures to solve the problem of death as if it were just an upgrade to your smartphone’s operating system.

Yet what if death simply cannot be hacked and longevity will always have a ceiling, no matter what we do? Researchers have now taken on the question of how long we can live if, by some combination of serendipity and genetics, we do not die from cancer, heart disease or getting hit by a bus. They report that when omitting things that usually kill us, our body’s capacity to restore equilibrium to its myriad structural and metabolic systems after disruptions still fades with time. And even if we make it through life with few stressors, this incremental decline sets the maximum life span for humans at somewhere between 120 and 150 years. In the end, if the obvious hazards do not take our lives, this fundamental loss of resilience will do so, the researchers conclude in findings published on May 25 in Nature Communications.

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Our world is hugged by complex layers of gases that make up the atmosphere. They protect and nurture all life as we know it. Now, we're shrinking an entire one of those layers – the stratosphere – thanks to the profound impacts we are having on our planet.

An alarming new study has found that the thickness of the stratosphere has already shrunk by 400 meters (1,312 feet) since 1980. While local decreases in the stratosphere's thickness have previously been reported, this is the first examination of this phenomenon on a global scale.

"It is shocking," one of the research team, University of Vigo Earth physicist Juan Añel told Damian Carrington at The Guardian. "This proves we are messing with the atmosphere up to 60 kilometers."

Enveloping the sky around 20 to 60 kilometers (12 to 37 miles) above us, the stratosphere blankets the atmospheric layer we're breathing (the troposphere). Few clouds venture this high and only the occasional birds. It holds the all-important ozone layer, which we've already wreaked havoc upon through our emissions of CFCs.

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The coronavirus pandemic has had the world fixated on viruses like no time in living memory, but new evidence reveals humans never even notice the vast extent of viral existence – even when it's inside us.

A new database project compiled by scientists has identified over 140,000 viral species that dwell in the human gut – a giant catalogue that's all the more stunning given over half of these viruses were previously unknown to science.

If tens of thousands of newly discovered viruses sounds like an alarming development, that's completely understandable. But we shouldn't misinterpret what these viruses within us actually represent, researchers say.

"It's important to remember that not all viruses are harmful, but represent an integral component of the gut ecosystem," explains biochemist Alexandre Almeida from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and the Wellcome Sanger Institute.

"These samples came mainly from healthy individuals who didn't share any specific diseases."

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Like the Universe's tiniest matryoshka dolls, atoms are typically modelled as particles within particles – a nuclei built of protons and neutrons, which in turn contain trios of fundamental particles called quarks.

As convenient as this simple metaphor might be, the quantum engine operating within these subatomic particles is an incomprehensible ledger of quantum economics: quarks and antiquarks adding up and cancelling out, but never balancing.

In the early 1990s, physicists smashed protons apart in order to put some numbers to this buzzing hive of quark activity, only to find the balance they expected was strangely askew.

Naturally, since the results left plenty of room for doubt, a double-check was in order.

Subsequent experiments at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in the US suggested something odd was going on when the momentum of the particles was cranked right up to the brink of what the detectors could measure.

So researchers set about a new experiment. Dubbed SeaQuest, its hodgepodge mix of old detectors and blinking scintillators was designed to get to the bottom of the quarks sloshing around inside protons with greater precision than ever.

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The long evolutionary journey that created modern humans began with a single step—or more accurately—with the ability to walk on two legs. One of our earliest-known ancestors, Sahelanthropus, began the slow transition from ape-like movement some six million years ago, but Homo sapiens wouldn’t show up for more than five million years. During that long interim, a menagerie of different human species lived, evolved and died out, intermingling and sometimes interbreeding along the way. As time went on, their bodies changed, as did their brains and their ability to think, as seen in their tools and technologies.

To understand how Homo sapiens eventually evolved from these older lineages of hominins, the group including modern humans and our closest extinct relatives and ancestors, scientists are unearthing ancient bones and stone tools, digging into our genes and recreating the changing environments that helped shape our ancestors’ world and guide their evolution.

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Where does the mind 'meet' the brain? While there's no shortage of research into the effects of psychedelics, drugs like LSD still have much to teach us about the way the brain operates – and can shine a light on the mysterious interface between consciousness and neural physiology, research suggests.

In a new study investigating the effects of LSD on volunteers, scientists found that the psychedelic enables the brain to function in a way beyond what anatomy usually dictates, by altering states of dynamic integration and segregation in the human brain.

"The psychedelic compound LSD induces a profoundly altered state of consciousness," explains first author and neuroscience researcher Andrea Luppi from the University of Cambridge.

"Combining pharmacological interventions with non-invasive brain imaging techniques such as functional MRI (fMRI) can provide insight into normal and abnormal brain function."

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