Why It’s Never Wise to Get Into the Ring With a Chimpanzee

By Nathaniel Scharping | June 26, 2017 3:22 pm
(Credit: Everett Collection, Shutterstock)

(Credit: Everett Collection/Shutterstock)

Humans are sort of nature’s wimps.

Relatively speaking, our physical prowess just doesn’t match up to the rest of the animal kingdom. Our lack of brawn is a result of our our big, energy-hungry brains, an adaption that seems to have worked out pretty well, all things considered. Still, without the aid of tools and traps, creatures who call the wilderness home present a clear threat. Even when compared to our closest cousins, chimpanzees, the strength gap is obvious.

When a human is attacked by a chimp, you’ll see reports claiming the primates are anywhere from two to eight times as strong as a human, despite their small stature. These estimates are likely based on experiments from the 1920s, when a researcher by the name of John Bauman recorded a chimp at the Bronx Zoo pulling 847 pounds with just one hand.

A new study from researchers at the University of Arizona and Ohio State University took a different approach to the problem: They performed direct tests of both human and chimp muscle fibers, and used computer models to determine how strong chimps really are. Or, put another way, researchers wanted to know why humans are so weak. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World
MORE ABOUT: animals

Music: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

By Mark Barna | June 26, 2017 12:12 pm
(Credit: Zarya Maxim Alexandrovich/Shutterstock)

(Credit: Zarya Maxim Alexandrovich/Shutterstock)

Our lives are awash in tunes. Songs are blasted through the radio, piped into supermarkets, they waft through the air at public gatherings and soundtracks can make or break a blockbuster movie.

Humans seem obsessed with melody and rhythm. But when did it begin in hominin history? What purpose does it fulfill? And does music have a dark side? Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: human origins

Sex Sells? No, It Doesn’t

By Carl Engelking | June 23, 2017 1:41 pm
sex-ad-

Sex appeals in advertising have a long history, but for good reason? (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Chiseled abs and bikinis can sell just about anything, right? According to the minds behind those Carl’s Jr. ads—and countless others—you’d think that’d be true.

This idea that “sex sells” has hung around for more than a century, and by this point it’s almost accepted as a doctrine. And those are exactly the types of claims researchers love putting to the test. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: psychology

Massive, ‘Dead’ Galaxy Puzzles Astronomers

By Alison Klesman | June 23, 2017 10:38 am
hubble-galaxy

This artist’s concept shows the Milky Way and MACS 2129-1 side by side. MACS 2129-1 is only half the Milky Way’s size, but it’s three times as massive as our home galaxy. (Credit: NASA/ESA/Z.Levy/STScl)

Objects in the distant universe appear small and difficult to see – unless they’re sitting behind a cosmic magnifying glass.

That’s exactly the case for MACS 2129-1, a galaxy lensed by a massive foreground galaxy cluster. Using the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have managed to catch a glimpse of this unusual object, which appears to be an old, “dead” galaxy that’s already stopped making new stars just a few billion years after the Big Bang. Not only is this galaxy finished with its star formation earlier than expected, it’s also shaped like a disk, rather than the fuzzy ball of stars that astronomers assumed they’d see. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: cosmology

Why Do Bird Eggs Come in So Many Shapes?

By Carl Engelking | June 22, 2017 4:18 pm
Various bird eggs on display at Natura Docet Wonderryck Twente in The Netherlands. (Rudmer Zwerver/Shutterstock)

Various bird eggs on display at Natura Docet Wonderryck Twente in The Netherlands. (Rudmer Zwerver/Shutterstock)

When something is described as egg-shaped, the ubiquitous hen’s egg typically comes to mind. But for birds, eggs come in myriad shapes: owl eggs look like ping-pong balls, hummingbird eggs are shaped like jelly beans, swift eggs are pointed at one end like a pear.

So what’s the reason? Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: top posts
MORE ABOUT: animals

A Better Touch Screen, Inspired by Moth Eyes

By Sylvia Morrow | June 22, 2017 1:47 pm
moth-eyes

A close-up of moth’s eyes from order Lepidoptera. (Credit: Muhammad Naaim)

Moth eyes and lotus leaves may be important to the future of touch screens.

Researchers from the University of Central Florida and National Taiwan University designed an anti-reflective coating that was inspired by moth eyes. The coating reflects about 10 times less light than the best anti-glare technique in commercial use. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: physics

Physicists Tackle the Wobbly Suitcase Problem

By Nathaniel Scharping | June 21, 2017 12:11 pm
(Credit: NChamunee/Shutterstock)

(Credit: NChamunee/Shutterstock)

Rolling luggage is both a blessing and a curse for hurried travelers. While we no longer need gym-toned biceps to heft our sundries through the airport, the slightest misstep can send a two-wheeled suitcase rocking and spinning into an uncontrollable disaster. Now, scientists think they know why rolling suitcases are so annoyingly unsteady at exactly the wrong times. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: physics

Persistent, Deadly Heat at the Equator Could Be the Norm by 2100

By Nathaniel Scharping | June 20, 2017 3:09 pm
(Credit: Shutterstock)

(Credit: Shutterstock)

Tuesday in Phoenix, Arizona, the temperature kept some planes grounded.

Phoenix was projected to reach of 120 degrees Fahrenheit, a near-record for the desert city, and hot enough that small planes cannot generate enough lift to fly. Phoenix and other cities have experienced similar conditions before, but only rarely—for now. The grounded passengers got to sit inside an air-conditioned terminal, at least. But in other parts of the world where temperatures are set to soar regularly above 100 degrees this summer, prolonged heat waves are likely to result in more deadly consequences. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, top posts

Kepler’s Final Crop of Promising Exoplanet Discoveries

By John Wenz | June 20, 2017 12:13 pm
(Credit: NASA)

(Credit: NASA)

The newest Kepler catalog draws out 219 new planetary candidates and infers that 10 of them may be habitable — doubling the number of planetary candidates in the habitable zone of their star. The Kepler catalog now stands at 2,335 confirmed planets and 4,034 strong candidates. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: exoplanets

The Human Project Aims to Track Every Aspect of Life

By Nathaniel Scharping | June 19, 2017 2:38 pm
(Credit: By Arthimedes/Shutterstock)

(Credit: Arthimedes/Shutterstock)

If you smoke cigarettes, you’re putting yourself at a heightened risk for heart disease. That correlation is well-known and unchallenged today, but that wasn’t always so. It took an ambitious, years-long project, the Framingham Heart Study to uncover the link, and it only happened because of the study’s commitment to comprehensive data collection.

The Framingham study is a near-canonical example of the power of longitudinal studies, those that follow participants for decades, and which can pick up on subtle trends and surprising connections by virtue of the sheer amount of data they generate. Now, a group of researchers at New York University hopes to apply similar methods to an even more formidable sample: They plan to recruit and study 10,000 New Yorkers for 20 years, using modern technology to track nearly every single aspect of their lives. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts
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