Latest Blog Posts


Flickering Light Could — Key Word Could — Treat Alzheimer's

By Nathaniel Scharping | December 7, 2016 12:12 pm

Staring into a flickering light could help treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Using a mouse model, researchers from MIT have demonstrated that flashing light at a specific frequency can alter patterns of brain activity in a way that reduces levels of amyloid-beta plaque in the brain. While human trials haven’t begun, this approach to treating the neurodegenerative disease is quite novel, the method could treat a range of diseases in the brain.
Proteins Turn Toxic
While we have made little prog …

The Crux

A History Recalled, One Symbol at a Time

By Stephen E. Nash | December 7, 2016 11:46 am

(This post originally appeared in the online anthropology magazine SAPIENS. Follow @SAPIENS_org on Twitter to discover more of their work.) 

Time. Astronomers, philosophers, physicists, anthropologists, politicians, geographers, and theologians have all pondered the nature and meaning of time. Is it linear or cyclical? Is it reversible? (Put another way, can we go back in time?) Is time absolute and measurable, as it seemed to be to Isaac Newton and Galileo Galilei, or is it relative, …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: anthropology


Sea ice globally is at a shocking low extent, thanks to record declines in both the Arctic and Antarctic

By Tom Yulsman | December 6, 2016 10:13 pm

Dramatic losses in both the Arctic and Antarctic drove sea ice extent to record lows in both regions during November, the National Snow and Ice Data Center has announced.

In the Arctic, sea ice extent averaged 753,000 square miles below the long-term average for November. This set a new record low for the month, which extends back 38 years to 1979.

That makes it seven record lows in the Arctic this year. And we’ve still got one more month left.

Meanwhile, the deficit in Antarctica …


Aviation Research, for the Birds

By Nathaniel Scharping | December 6, 2016 2:12 pm

Sometimes, it takes a goggle-wearing parrot to show us where we went wrong.

A study from researchers at Stanford University suggests that our previous models of lift, as they pertain to animals, are all incomplete, based on observations of an intrepid parrotlet in their laboratory. Flying through a sheet of illuminated aerosol particles, the avian aviator pushed through the boundaries of our current understanding of wake dynamics, hinting that there is new ground yet to be broken.
Wings  …

MORE ABOUT: animals, physics


Fun With Non-Ionizing Radiation

By Neuroskeptic | December 6, 2016 1:29 pm

Does non-ionizing radiation pose a health risk? Everyone knows that ionizing radiation, like gamma rays, can cause cancer by damaging DNA. But the scientific consensus is that there is no such risk from non-ionizing radiation such as radiowaves or Wi-Fi.

Yet according to a remarkable new paper from Magda Havas, the risk is real: it’s called When theory and observation collide: Can non-ionizing radiation cause cancer?

There are a few remarkable things about this paper but chief among th …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: controversiology, papers, select, Top Posts, woo


Electric-blue ice clouds seeded by meteor dust have been spied over Antarctica by a NASA spacecraft

By Tom Yulsman | December 6, 2016 10:53 am

Not to worry, this is normal. But climate change may be playing a role.

As summer gets under way in the Southern Hemisphere, electric blue clouds seeded by meteor dust begin to glow high in the sky over Antarctica’s vast icy reaches.

This year, according to NASA, these night-shining, or “noctilucent,” clouds turned up much earlier than usual. This corresponds to an early seasonal shift into into the warmer season at lower altitudes over Antarctica.

Here’s how the space agency de …


Chimpanzees See Butts Like We See Faces

By Nathaniel Scharping | December 5, 2016 3:21 pm

Chimpanzees may look at each other’s butts the same way we look at faces.

A pair of researchers from Leiden University in the Netherlands and Kyoto University in Japan studied how chimps process images of other chimps’ rear ends, and found that they perceive them in the same way that we do faces. Chimps seem unable to recognize posteriors well when they are flipped upside down. Humans experience the same difficulty — what’s called an inversion effect — when looking at faces.


CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Mind & Brain
MORE ABOUT: animals, Senses


Massive fracture in Antarctic ice shelf is 70 miles long, a football field wide, and a third of a mile deep

By Tom Yulsman | December 5, 2016 12:22 pm

A massive rift in the Antarctic Peninsula’s Larsen C ice shelf has been growing steadily, threatening to cut all the way across. If it does, an iceberg roughly the size of the state of Delaware — and perhaps even bigger — will float off.

New observations by scientists on NASA’s IceBridge mission, an airborne survey of polar ice, reveal that the rift is now about 70 miles long. And it cuts down about 1,700 feet, all the way through the floating shelf of ice.

Should Larsen C thro …

Dead Things

Tetrapod Triumph! Solving Mystery Of First Land Vertebrates

By Gemma Tarlach | December 5, 2016 10:00 am

Let’s talk about Romer’s Gap, not to be confused with the Gap of Rohan (though I would love to talk about that, too, as I am always up for a bit of Tolkien). Romer’s Gap is an intriguing question mark in the fossil record that today loses a little of its mystery.

On the far side of the gap, about 360 million years ago, we’ve got aquatic tetrapods — vertebrates with four limbs — which were at that point still pretty fishy (note: not actual scientific term). On the near side of the ga …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts


Breakthrough Prize-Winning Scientists Share $25 Million

By Steve Nadis | December 4, 2016 7:00 pm

During the 5th Annual Breakthrough Prize ceremony, an affair with all the trappings of the Oscars, a handful of scientists in the fields of life sciences, physics, and mathematics became millionaires.

Never before has more cash been placed in the hands of the world’s brightest minds.

The event is the brainchild of Yuri Milner, a Russian-born internet entrepreneur who is now based (as might be expected) in Silicon Valley. Other founders of the Breakthrough Prize attended as well, incl …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts

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