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D-brief

Brain Scans Probe the Limits of Consciousness

By Nathaniel Scharping | May 27, 2016 4:03 pm

New research from scientists at the University of Copenhagen and Yale University may offer a simple, yet powerful way to pull back the curtain on the true status of patients in a coma.

Using a type of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanning, the researchers say they were able to predict with 94 percent accuracy whether a coma patient would wake up. Typically, determining who will emerge from a coma is based on a doctor’s bedside exam, and they often make mistakes. They measured patie …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, top posts

The Crux

Inside an Ant Royal Rumble

By Carl Engelking | May 27, 2016 11:21 am

A months-long Indian jumping ant Battle Royale is almost as brutal as the process to elect members of Congress. But after the dust settles in the ant colony and on the campaign trail, the hierarchies that emerge are, in a loose sense, similar.

When an Indian jumping ant (Harpegnathos saltator) colony’s queen dies, her distinctive I’m-having-babies pheromones stop circulating, and workers, alerted by the absence of her familiar scent, gather at the center of the colony and form a cir …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Top Posts

Seriously, Science?

Flashback Friday: Republicans are more easily grossed out than Democrats.

By Seriously Science | May 27, 2016 6:00 am

People react very differently to disgusting situations than to other daily life events, and it’s thought that this may have evolved as a way of protecting ourselves from parasites. But such hard-wired responses also have far-reaching effects on modern life. For example, this paper suggests that differences in disgust responses may influence one’s political affiliation and views on gay marriage. Be sure to read the caption for Fig. 1 (left). Gross!

Disgust sensitivity and the neurophysiolo …

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Citizen Science Salon

Citizen Science for Bat Fans!

By Eva Lewandowski | May 26, 2016 6:32 pm

Photo: USFWS

Those Elusive Flying Mammals!

Bats can be tricky to spot and observe but let’s try because they need our help.  As disease, habitat loss, and climate change decimate some bat populations, we can help scientists monitor and protect them.

Below, our editors highlight five bat-related citizen projects from around the globe.

Find more than 1,600 projects and events in the SciStarter Global Project Finder.

Cheers!
The …

MORE ABOUT: bats

The Crux

In Memory of the Spirit Rover

By Korey Haynes | May 26, 2016 3:04 pm

Five years ago, NASA officially ceased recovery efforts for the Spirit rover. They didn’t give up without a fight. The rover had been silent since March of 2010, more than a year earlier, and stationary since 2009, when it drove into a patch of soft martian soil.

With Spirit’s twin rover, Opportunity, driving merrily along to this day (though not without signs of aging), it’s tempting, in hindsight, to consider Spirit the disappointing sibling. Certainly it’s difficult not t …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Top Posts

D-brief

Maybe We Trust Robots Too Much

By Nathaniel Scharping | May 26, 2016 2:16 pm

Would you let a stranger into your apartment building?

Granting an unknown person access to a building was a humorous premise for a Seinfeld episode, but the decision to trust a stranger reveals insights into human psychology and touches on broader issues of trust in society. But what if, instead of a human, a robot knocked at your door?

It’s a question that Harvard University senior Serena Booth set out to answer with the help of a small, wheeled robot — well, more like a rovin …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts
MORE ABOUT: robots

D-brief

Surprising Smarts: Neanderthals Were Builders, Cave Explorers

By Nathaniel Scharping | May 26, 2016 12:31 pm

Circular structures discovered in a French cave continue to build the case that Neanderthals were more intelligent than we give them credit for.

Deep inside the Bruniquel Cave, researchers discovered two rings of stalactites and stalagmites that appeared to have been deliberately stacked and arranged to form a structure. The site also contained charred animal bones, which may have served as torches to illuminate the dark depths of the cave or keep bears at bay. The thing is, a new dat …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

Seriously, Science?

Male spiders play dead to avoid "sexual cannibalism."

By Seriously Science | May 26, 2016 6:00 am

Spider sex can be pretty complicated… and kinky. Take wolf spiders, for example. It’s well known that female wolf spiders have a predilection for eating their partners during courtship, a behavior known as sexual cannibalism. Males, in turn, have developed their own tactics to avoid being consumed while still getting it on. This includes offering a “nuptial gift” of a tasty snack–for example, a dead fly or an eggsac from another female. The gift has been thought to help curb the female’s  …

D-brief

Grieving Monkey Mourns His Mate

By Nathaniel Scharping | May 25, 2016 2:48 pm

For animal researchers, one of the most essential questions is that of consciousness. How do they view themselves and those around them? Even in humans, consciousness remains a perplexing problem for scientists — made all the more vexing because the answer is locked in our own brains.

One way for researchers to gain insight into how other animals view their lives is by observing their behavior when confronted with death. There is a good deal of evidence that various species of animals …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

D-brief

Lost and Found: Brazil's Blue-eyed 'Ghost Species'

By Andrew Jenner | May 25, 2016 11:47 am

Last June, driving through a rural part of Minas Gerais state, ornithologist Rafael Bessa came across an unusually beautiful stretch of cerrado, the vast, diverse savanna that sprawls across much of central Brazil. So appealing was this landscape that Bessa, an ornithologist working on an environmental assessment in the area, decided to get out and have a look around.

Though he saw nothing of particular note, he heard a song he didn’t recognize. Perplexed, Bessa returned to the same sce …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
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