Meet Sabina

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She can bring you a Coke or retrieve some Advil if you have a splitting headache and don’t want to move.

She’s a robot.

Sabina is bilingual. She can react to commands in English or Spanish.

Sabina is bilingual. She can react to commands in English or Spanish. Photo: National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics in Mexico

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Liberals happier than conservatives, scientific study finds

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Conservatives might like to talk about how happy they are, but in fact liberals “more frequently used positive emotional language in their speech and smiled more intensely and genuinely in photographs,” a study published in Science has found. Continue reading

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Rats got a bad rap for the Black Death, scientists say

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Researchers have thrown out the verdict against the rat, for centuries blamed as the primary carrier of the bubonic plague that struck Medieval Europe again and again with such ferocity.

The rat was wrongly accused, scientists report this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  Continue reading

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Ebola was already here

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Dr. Thomas Cairns, in the operating room in Africa decades ago. Photo courtesy of Dr. Cairns via NBC News

Dr. Thomas Cairns, in an operating room in Africa decades ago. Photo courtesy of Dr. Cairns via NBC News

Although there have been breathless reports over the last week about the first Americans to arrive in the country with Ebola, the virus itself is studied in U.S. labs, notes Tara C. Smith in the Aetiology blog, and there have been at least seven cases of Lassa virus, a similar African hemorrhagic fever, in the United States.

One of those Lassa cases was diagnosed in Philadelphia in 2010 when a 47-year-old returned from Liberia, the same country where healthcare workers Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly caught Ebola in the latest outbreak of the highly infectious disease. Continue reading

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Got low T? Welcome to civilization, study says

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Cieri-skull-mashup

A composite image shows the facial differences between an ancient modern human with heavy brows and a large upper face — which can be directly traced to testosterone — and the more recent modern human who has softer features.  Photo courtesy of University of Utah biology graduate student Robert Cieri

We Homo sapiens have been around for 200,000 years.

So why did it take us 150,000 years to create the first art and advanced tools?

Testosterone, according to a study in the journal Current Anthropology.  Continue reading

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