Latest Blog Posts


World's Largest Primates Face Grave Threat

By Nathaniel Scharping | April 25, 2016 3:21 pm

For the first time in 20 years, wildlife biologists conducted a comprehensive population survey of the Grauer’s gorilla, the largest primate in the world.

What they found confirmed their worst fears: In the time since the last gorilla census was taken in 1994, their population declined by an estimated 77 percent. The researchers estimate that there are only some 3,800 Grauer’s gorillas left in their native habitat in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has been wracked with huma …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Living World


Playtime Is Better With Music

By Carl Engelking | April 25, 2016 2:10 pm

Playtime might be all the more enriching with a waltz playing in the background.

A new study from University of Washington researchers Christina Zhao and Patricia Kuhl suggests that short sessions of music training can boost a 9-month-old infant’s ability to recognize patterns in music and speech — a crucial skill for learning a language.

Their findings represent another step forward for scientists who are working to establish stronger links between music and brain plasticity.
P …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, top posts

The Extremo Files

Inside the High-Stakes World of Vaccine Development

By Jeffrey Marlow | April 25, 2016 7:22 am

Vaccines are widely recognized as the most effective way we’ve got to fight infectious disease, a bulwark against a staggeringly diverse array of potentially pathogenic organisms looking to circumvent our defenses. Pervasive vaccines like those for influenza, measles, or polio offer a sense of security, but it wasn’t always so, and a range of established and emerging threats continue to present real problems. Given the physical interconnectedness of even the most remote locations …

MORE ABOUT: health, vaccines, viruses


More on Publication Bias in Money Priming

By Neuroskeptic | April 23, 2016 6:53 am

Does the thought of money make people more selfish? Last year, I blogged about the theory of ‘money priming’, the idea that mere reminders of money can influence people’s attitudes and behaviors. The occasion for that post was a study showing no evidence of the claimed money priming phenomenon, published by psychologists Rohrer, Pashler, and Harris. Rohrer et al.’s paper was accompanied by a rebuttal from Kathleen Vohs, who argued that 10 years of research and 165 studies establish that mo …

Citizen Science Salon

The Science Behind WeCureALZ: A Participatory Research Project Tackling Alzheimer's Disease

By Guest | April 22, 2016 4:13 pm

We started this year by making you curious about WeCureALZ – a groundbreaking new project that is set to fight Alzheimer’s. Now we want to tell you all about the ‘science’ in this citizen science project.

MORE ABOUT: Alzheimer's


Half a Degree Makes a Big Difference for Global Climate

By Nathaniel Scharping | April 22, 2016 3:28 pm

World leaders meeting Friday at the United Nations headquarters in New York hope to make this Earth Day a historic one.

More than 150 countries are expected to sign the Paris Agreement, an accord reached last December designed to keep global warming “well below” 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, with some nations arguing that the world should rally around a more stringent threshold of 1.5 C. And the difference between the two goals might be significant: A new study show …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, top posts


Remnants of a Supernova Are Pummeling Earth

By John Wenz | April 22, 2016 2:02 pm

Sometime in the last few million years, a not-so-far-off supernova sent charged particles known as cosmic rays out in all directions. The scattered, stripped nuclei of radioactive iron isotopes eventually made their way to Earth as part of a larger stream of material. Now, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have found traces of this stream bombarding our planet, bringing interstellar atomic debris crashing into Earth.
In a paper published Thursday in Science, the researchers r …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts

Dead Things

Like Fossils? Like Maps? You're Welcome

By Gemma Tarlach | April 22, 2016 1:22 pm

I love fossils. I love maps. A map of fossils? Sweet! An open-access, interactive world map of every fossil ever found?

ShutTheFrontDoorYouGottaBeKiddingMe! I know what I’m doing this weekend. Why not join me?

While it’s been around a while in one form or another since the late ’90s, the Paleobiology Database hasn’t had a high profile in the public. That’s a shame, because it is a gorgeous, user-friendly collection of documented fossils from around the world, and you can check it o …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: fossils, maps, paleontology
Credit: Paramount | Dreamworks Pictures

Lovesick Cyborg

Why Scarlett Johansson Is the Cyborg Hollywood Deserves

By Jeremy Hsu | April 22, 2016 1:03 pm

Hollywood directors such as Steven Spielberg and the Wachoswski siblings have drawn inspiration from the science fiction vision of the 1995 anime film “Ghost in the Shell.” But a live-action Hollywood remake of “Ghost in the Shell” has proven controversial because of the choice to cast Scarlett Johansson in the role of the story’s main cyborg character known as Major Motoko Kusanagi.

Let us not waste time on the common complaints about Johansson’s casting: Hollywood’s history of “w …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: technology, top posts, Uncategorized

The Crux

How to Harvest Terawatts of Solar Power on the Moon

By David Warmflash | April 22, 2016 1:03 pm

Planet Earth isn’t the most ideal place for solar power to thrive. Sunsets and weather afford solar panels a significant amount of downtime.

But there’s a place not too far from here where the sun never stops shining.

A handful of researchers, and more recently the Japanese corporation Shimizu, have been gearing up to develop solar power on the moon.

Shimizu took off with the idea in 2013 in the aftermath of Japan’s 2011 Fukishima accident, which produced a political climate d …


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