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Measuring the Milky Way

It is a galactic challenge, to be sure, but Gwendolyn Eadie is getting closer to an accurate answer to a question that has defined her early career in astrophysics: what is the mass of the Milky Way?

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Exploring Gender Perception via Speech

We tend to perceive speakers as masculine or feminine rather quickly. These snap judgments are based on acoustic information from the speakers’ voices. But some vocal qualities deemed “feminine” can overlap with acoustic cues for “clear speech,” which is a set of changes speakers make when they suspect their listener is having a difficult time hearing. This overlap inspired researchers to explore gender perception via speech — largely to determine whether adopting clear speech could help transgender people who would like to sound more feminine.

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Lung Function May Affect Vocal Health for Women

Vocal fatigue is a common complaint among teachers and one of the most debilitating conditions that can lead to vocal damage. The typical symptoms include hoarseness, vocal tiredness, muscle pains and lost or cracked notes. However, the actual physiological mechanism of vocal fatigue is still being explored. Now, a group of researchers have found a potential link between pulmonary function and the symptoms of voice fatigue unique to women, the predominate population of teaching workforce.

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The Future of Sonar in Semiheated Oceans

Light doesn’t travel very far underwater so the navy uses sound to transmit messages. The speed of underwater sound depends on a combination of temperature, salinity and pressure. Understanding sound speed is crucial for transmitting messages, detecting enemy submarines and avoiding marine animals. As climate change elevates temperatures, understanding underwater sound speed will become increasingly important.

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A Warning System for Tsunamis

Scientists at the Australian National University have developed the Time Reverse Imaging Method to take real-time data from the ocean sensors and use that information to recreate what the tsunami looked like when it was born. Once scientists have the tsunami source pinpointed, they can use it to make better predictions about what will happen once the waves reach shore. This new method is fast enough to compete with existing algorithms but much more accurate.

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High Performance Golf Club Comes with Annoying Sound

In 2007, a new golf club hit the market. The distribution of mass in the club head made it less likely to twist, making an off-center hit less likely, but it had a drawback: a loud noise when it struck the ball, piercing through the tranquility of a golf course. The club never grew popular among players, with many saying they disliked the noise. Researchers at Penn State set out to find the cause of the offensive clang.

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Mucus May Play Vital Role in Dolphin Echolocation

A dolphin chasing a tasty fish will produce a stream of rapid-fire echolocation clicks that help it track the speed, direction and distance to its prey. Now researchers have developed a model that could yield new insights into how the charismatic marine mammals make these clicks – and it turns out snot may play an important role. The researchers will present their model at the 171st meeting of the Acoustical Society of America.

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Why Vocal Fry?

Researchers are studying the lowest vocal register used by chorus singers to better understand the emotional properties of music. This lowest register is called vocal fry, and it sounds a little bit like a growl or a croak. The technique has become popular in today’s pop and country music. When female singers use this lowest register, listeners rate her as more expressive, according to a small study. The opposite is true for men.

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Cities Try Different Tactics to Regulate Noise

If you live in Waco, a gas lawn mower at night likely wouldn’t violate the decibel limit, even though it may in most towns. The large difference is just one example of the diversity of laws regulating noise throughout the U.S. The Noise Pollution Clearinghouse, a national non-profit that gathers noise-related resources and advocates for quieter public spaces, has compiled a database of noise ordinances for nearly 500 of the largest communities in the U.S.

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Thin Film Work Is Poster Child for Getting Research and Development to Industry

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sandia National Laboratories researcher Paul Vianco sees his work on thin films as a poster child for the way research and development work can boost U.S. industry.

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IU Experts Organize NSF-Funded Conference on Data-Driven Science Policy

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Indiana University data scientists will gather experts from across the globe May 17-18 for the Modeling Science, Technology and Innovation Conference at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., to review opportunities and challenges associated with the use of big data, visual analytics and computational models to advance public policy decisions related to science, technology and innovation.

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Animal Training Techniques Teach Robots New Tricks

Researchers at Washington State University are using ideas from animal training to help non-expert users teach robots how to do desired tasks.

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Paper Gets 'Smart' with Drawn-on, Stenciled Sensor Tags

Researchers from the University of Washington, Disney Research and Carnegie Mellon University have created ways to give a piece of paper sensing capabilities that allows it to respond to gesture commands and connect to the digital world.

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This Five-Fingered Robot Hand Learns to Get a Grip on Its Own

A University of Washington team of computer science and engineering researchers has built a robot hand that can not only perform dexterous manipulation - one of the most difficult problems in robotics - but also learn from its own experience.

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How Will People Interact with Technology in the Future?

New research that discusses how people will interact with technology in the future will be presented this week at one of the world's most important conferences on human-computer interfaces, ACM CHI 2016, in San Jose, USA [7-12 May].

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Teaching Computers to Understand Human Languages

Researchers at the University of Liverpool have developed a set of algorithms that will help teach computers to process and understand human languages.

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Floods and Coastal Erosion May Expose Contents of UK Landfills, Study Finds

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The contents of historic coastal landfill sites could pose a significant environmental threat if they erode, according to a new study from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

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Pre-Symptom Alzheimer’s Disease Detected with New Eye Scan

Early structural changes in the back of the eye — now visible with a newly developed eye scan — may indicate the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The research is being presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) this week in Seattle, Wash.

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Blocking Blue Light May Improve Sleep According to Study

Building on existing evidence, vision researchers have found that limiting exposure to blue light after sunset increases the quality and length of sleep. The research is being presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) this week in Seattle, Wash.

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Study Finds Blueberries May Protect Against Dry Eye Disease

Pterostilbene (PS), a component of blueberries, have been found to protect against dry eye disease according to a new study. The research is being presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) this week in Seattle, Wash.