Tag: Living World

What Makes a Young Stud of a Booby? Bright Blue Feet & Impeccable Sperm

By Patrick Morgan | May 19, 2011 2:29 pm

What’s the News: It turns out that humans aren’t too different from blue-footed boobies, at least when it comes to age and fertility. Researchers have recently discovered that the sperm of blue-footed boobies declines with age. And unlike humans, the blue feet of the boobies also fade with age, revealing that one reason why female boobies tend to mate with brighter-footed males is to ensure the robustness of the sperm and the health of their offspring. “The study provides us with a new way of looking at what lies behind sexual signals,” lead author Alberto Velando told TIME, “pointing to the importance of sexual selection in eliminating genetic mutations.” Read More


Is Space a Bad Influence on Good Bacteria?

By Patrick Morgan | May 18, 2011 8:50 am

What’s the News: Scientists have known for a while that if you put harmful bacteria into outer space, they tend to get even more harmful. Since that discovery, researchers have been itching to know if the zero gravity and radiation of space will have similar effects on beneficial bacteria. With Monday’s launch of Endeavor, scientists can finally try to answer that question: alongside the astronauts, NASA launched the first ever space-faring cephalopod, along with the bioluminescent microbe with which it has a symbiotic relationship, to see if their relationship can stand the stresses of space travel. “This is the first [study] to look at beneficial bacteria” in space, lead researcher Jamie Foster told New Scientist.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Space

Today's Best Science: Power Lines For Fukushima, Monkeys Recognize Their Buddies, and Plans for the Largest Tidal Array

By Patrick Morgan | March 17, 2011 11:01 pm

Image: flickr / daveeza


Today's Best Science: Mercury Orbiting, Toxin-Sucking Bananas, Language Colors Perception

By Patrick Morgan | March 16, 2011 10:28 pm
  • Orbit time! Launched in 2004, NASA’s Messenger spacecraft will this Friday become the first probe to orbit Mercury—potentially uncovering polar ice or explaining why the planet is oddly dense.
  • Older AND wiser: When scientists played recordings of lion roars for elephants, they discovered that the oldest female elephants were the most sensitive, and even discerned the calls of lions from lionesses.
  • Health experts say that this year’s cholera epidemic in Haiti could affect double the UN’s prediction of 400,000 people. The UN’s “crude” predictions assumed only a certain percentage of the population would be affected, whereas the new estimate takes water supplies and immunity into consideration.
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Today's Best Science: Waste-to-Water, Smarts Through Plants, and Rat-Brain Scanners

By Patrick Morgan | March 15, 2011 7:24 pm
  • Clear thinking: The city of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates is taking a new approach to fresh water production: They’re harnessing the wasted heat from power plants to drive their water-desalination process, upping thermal efficiency from 43% to 90% in the process.
  • Food for thought: A new study suggests that merely surrounding yourself with indoor plants boosts your attention span.
  • A sensor that looks like a miniature breath mint may be a boon for cancer treatment: It’s so small that it can be implanted right into the body to sense tumor growth, allowing doctors to avoid invasive—and sometimes harmful—biopsies.
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Researchers Use Avatar Camera Technology to Try to Understand Kangaroo's Hop

By Patrick Morgan | March 10, 2011 3:04 pm

At first glance, biologists slapping motion capture gear onto kangaroos sounds like a scientific foray into the 3-D-movie craze. But James Cameron can rest assured: The scientists are merely performing their day jobs, studying kangaroos—and using a nifty new camera to do it.

As kangaroos mosey along at low speeds, they walk, using their tail as a  fifth limb. But as they speed up, they slip into their signature bounce. The mystery for scientists is why such large animals—some being over six feet tall—are so darn springy, and as Alexis Wiktorowicz-Conroy, a researcher at the Royal Veterinary College, told the BBC, “We can’t really explain … why their bones don’t break at high speeds.” Read More


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