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Dogs Do as You Do, Not as You Say

By Elizabeth Preston | October 27, 2016 9:08 pm

Italy’s school for water rescue dogs, the Scuola Italiana Cani Salvataggio, has trained hundreds of animals in canine heroics. The dogs work on Italian police and coast guard boats, and with fire departments and the navy. They can even jump into the ocean from a hovering helicopter to save a person.

They’re pros at taking commands from humans. So researchers wondered if the dogs could help them understand what kind of command works best: Words? Or gestures?

Biagio D’Aniello, a bio …

Seriously, Science?

A ball of dough can "learn." What's Donald Trump's excuse?

By Seriously Science | October 27, 2016 8:02 pm

This study definitely falls squarely into our “WTF” category. These researchers set out to determine whether a ball of electroconductive dough (basically flour, water, table salt, vegetable oil, and lemon juice) can be “conditioned” to respond to a stimulus. They hooked up the doughball to jumper cables and exposed it to flashes of LED light paired closely in time with a current. After this training, they then exposed the dough to light with no current, and found that its spectral density resemb …



New NASA Images Confirm Schiaparelli's Demise

By Nathaniel Scharping | October 27, 2016 1:11 pm

The fate of the European Space Agency’s Schiaparelli lander is sealed.

An image taken Tuesday by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter reveals a series of impact crates strewn about the expected landing zone of the craft, with no sign of the lander itself. The craft’s back shell and parachute appear at the bottom of the image, while the heat shield rests in what appears to be several fragments at top right. A dark crater at the upper left is the only evidence of the craft’s landing …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts

Citizen Science Salon

Celebrate Halloween with SciStarter

By Eva Lewandowski | October 27, 2016 12:06 pm

Are you looking for something to make you shudder this Halloween? You can skip the scary movies and the frightening costumes. We’ve got projects that are creepy, slimy, scary, and above all else fun!  Below, we’ve highlighted five spooky projects to help you celebrate Halloween.

Find more with the Scistarter Project Finder.
The SciStarter Team

Photo: OPAL

OPAL Soil Earthworms  



Dead Things

BRAINS! BRAAAAAINS! First Dinosaur Brain Tissue Found!

By Gemma Tarlach | October 27, 2016 12:00 pm

Next time you’re at the beach, idly flipping rocks and pebbles into the waves, stop. Take a good look at what you’re about to toss Neptune’s way. It might be a dinosaur brain.

A team of researchers announced today that a clumpy-looking, mud-colored stone that could fit in the palm of your hand is actually fossilized brain tissue from a dinosaur that needed it 133 million years ago.

While paleontologists have unearthed braincases in the past — and those fossilized skull bones  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts


Swifts Remain Airborne Up to 10 Months at a Time

By Nathaniel Scharping | October 27, 2016 11:00 am

When a common swift kicks off from its breeding grounds north of the equator to return to more temperate climes, it likely won’t touch earth until the following year.

Swifts, with their darting movements and high-energy hunting habits seem to be poor candidates for the title of world’s longest flyer. But according to a new study by researchers from Sweden’s Lund University, the small birds take the record easily, with some staying aloft for up to 10 months at a time.

Their research c …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: animals


Advances in the Psychology of Passing the Salt

By Neuroskeptic | October 27, 2016 10:14 am

I just came across a remarkable new paper on the science of salt-passing behavior: Expected Results Show that a Longer Nose Means Slower Times for Passing the Salt and Pepper: A Second Report

The article, which I have no doubt is entirely serious in nature, lists as its authors Canadian researchers Minér Patrick, Léon Le Néz and Pat Minér.

Here’s how Patrick et al. describe their work:
Eighty female student subjects were tested by being asked to pass salt or pepper by another  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: funny, papers, select, Top Posts

Citizen Science Salon

The Poetry of Science at the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site

By Guest | October 26, 2016 9:38 pm

Carl Sandburg Home National Historical Site stretches over 246 rolling acres in Flat Rock, N.C. The writer and poet Sandburg moved to the property in 1945 for the solitude the natural landscape provides. Today, it is a place where nature, science, and creativity intertwine.

Five miles of trails meander throughout the site – some leisurely strolls on walking paths, others intense climbs that summit onto a bucolic overlooks. One trail in particular offers a new and innovative experience t …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Environment


Behold! The Birth of Stellar Triplets

By Carl Engelking | October 26, 2016 3:05 pm

Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), astronomers have captured a stunningly clear, and rare image of stellar triplets still in their infancy.

The three stars are just babies: They’re still bundled in a primordial cloud of gas and dust, and are thought to be no more than 150,000 years old. The sun, by comparison, is some 4.5 billion years old — middle aged by cosmic timescales. Obtaining such a clear image of this young star trio is providing astronomers wit …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts


We Now Know When HIV Arrived in the U.S.

By Nathaniel Scharping | October 26, 2016 12:00 pm

When healthy young gay men began dying of a rash of rare diseases in 1981, it sparked a panic that soon spread beyond the gay community.

The underlying cause would soon be identified as Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, and the AIDS crisis was underway. While 1981 marked the first time that AIDS entered the national consciousness, it had been circulating beneath the radar for some time. By the time it was “discovered,” thousands of people had likely already been infected, creating a p …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts

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