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The Crux

Lost or Found? A Stick Chart From the Marshall Islands

By Stephen E. Nash | July 29, 2016 2:07 pm

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

In a recent blog post, I focused on the Global Positioning System (GPS) and mused on how we ever got along without high-tech navigational aids. GPS units became common in cars and phones only in the last 15 years or so.

I remember when a road trip required a stop at the local American Automobile Association office to gather free maps of the planne …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Top Posts

Seriously, Science?

Flashback Friday: The case of the appendicitis that turned out to be broccoli.

By Seriously Science | July 29, 2016 6:00 am

Think broccoli is simply a harmless, tasty vegetable that’s a good source of fiber and vitamin C? Think again! According to this article, lurking under that unassuming green exterior is a villain capable of masquerading as appendicitis. Apparently, if you somehow swallow a large enough piece of broccoli, it can become lodged in the intestine. The resulting symptoms resemble appendicitis and required surgery for one unfortunate patient (see photo below of the offending floret… if you dar …

D-brief

Talkative Orangutan Shows Scientists How Language Evolved

By Nathaniel Scharping | July 28, 2016 3:01 pm

An orangutan named Rocky is using “wookies” to reveal new insights into the origins of language.

In experiments conducted by a researcher at Amsterdam University, Rocky learned and recited a basic vocabulary of sounds, producing vocalizations no orangutan is known to make. By learning to mimic his human instructor, this talkative primate is lending support to one of the leading theories of language evolution.
Repeat After Me
Adriano Lameira, now a professor in the department of anthr …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: animals, human origins
A Google self-driving car prototype painted by a local artist in Mountain View, California. Credit: Google | Hong Li

Lovesick Cyborg

Why Sticker Price Matters for Self-Driving Cars

By Jeremy Hsu | July 28, 2016 2:39 pm

Many Americans expect self-driving cars to become more popular than regular cars in the next few decades. But much of that optimistic assumption depends on the sticker price of driverless vehicles and how much drivers would be willing to pay to replace their old rides with robot car chauffeurs. Under some circumstances, a recent study found that not even half of U.S. passenger cars would be self-driving cars within thirty years.

Many attempts to predict the popularity of driverless ve …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: technology, top posts, Uncategorized

Dead Things

Whollydooleya, Batman! The Tasmanian Devil's Bigger, Badder Cousin

By Gemma Tarlach | July 28, 2016 1:51 pm

Thank you, Australia. One of your many contributions to the world is an amazing collection of unique animals past and present that, let’s be honest, are just fun. Adorable echidnas, sweet little pademelons (you cannot be angry when you say their name…try it), koalas, wombats and, of course, the Tasmanian devils, what I like to think of as lapdogs of Mordor.

The devils, often misunderstood and now tragically imperiled by disease, are cousins to the latest fossil find out of the island n …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

D-brief

Did Traveling to the Moon Take a Toll on Astronauts’ Hearts?

By K. N. Smith | July 28, 2016 9:52 am

Astronauts who explore deep space may be more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease later in their lives.

That’s the implication of a new study, which found that Apollo astronauts, who had flown to the moon in their 30s, were more likely to die of cardiovascular problems in their 50s and 60s than astronauts who flew missions in low Earth orbit.

In low Earth orbit—the domain of ISS and the former Space Shuttle flights—Earth’s magnetic field blocks radiation from further o …

D-brief

Jupiter's Great Red Spot Is Big, Bad and Really Hot

By Rebecca Boyle | July 27, 2016 4:16 pm

Talk about extreme weather.

The solar system’s biggest and baddest storm, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, is so loud and violent that it heats up the giant planet’s atmosphere. Above the storm, which has been raging for at least 300 years, the atmosphere is hundreds of degrees hotter than anywhere else on Jupiter. The warmth comes from within, according to a paper published in Nature today.
So Hot in Here
Orbiting hundreds of millions of miles from the sun, Jupiter is about three times  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: solar system

Inkfish

Deer Line Up North-South, Whether Relaxing or Running

By Elizabeth Preston | July 27, 2016 1:38 pm

If you’re ever lost in a remote European forest, you might be able to get your bearings by finding a herd of roe deer. These animals like to align themselves roughly north-south, whether they’re standing still or fleeing danger.

Roe deer are small, reddish or grayish grazers common in Europe and Asia. Petr Obleser, of the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, and his coauthors studied the behavior of these skittish herbivores to look for evidence that they can sense the earth’ …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: earth, friends, navigation, top posts

D-brief

These Ants Would Definitely Win a Sword Fight

By Nathaniel Scharping | July 27, 2016 1:00 pm

What do you get if you take an ant and add a couple of scimitars to its back?

You’d get an ant that fits nicely into Pheidole cervicornis, a diverse group of ants in Indonesia with wicked-looking spikes adorning their bodies. Looking something like the ninja warriors of the ant world, these guys have another unique feature as well: giant heads and jaws that they use to break apart and transport large portions of food.

Researchers from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technolo …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

D-brief

Your Nose May Have Drugs in It, the Antibiotic Kind

By Bridget Alex | July 27, 2016 12:00 pm

The human nose is a battleground for bacteria and some of them could prove to be our allies.

Researchers have discovered a new antibiotic, produced by nose-dwelling bacteria, that kills antibiotic-resistant superbugs, including MRSA.

The study, published in Nature, shows that the human microbiome — the microorganisms living on and within us — could be an important source for new antibiotics, desperately needed as infectious bacteria become resistant to our current antibiotic drugs. …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts
MORE ABOUT: Vaccines & drugs
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