If We Start Geoengineering, There’s No Going Back

By Nathaniel Scharping | January 22, 2018 3:14 pm
(Credit: aaltair/Shutterstock)

(Credit: aaltair/Shutterstock)

When it comes to climate change, speed kills.

The temperature changes that are causing heat waves, intense storms and other climate aberrations are dangerous today because they’re happening so fast. The climate has indeed been as warm, and warmer even, in the past, but it reached those temperature levels over the course of thousands or millions of years — long enough for the changes to occur gradually. This time around, the climate is being altered too fast for animal and plant life to adapt.

A suggested fix for climate change could make the problem even worse. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, top posts

Sushi’s to Blame for a Man’s 5-Foot Tapeworm

By Carl Engelking | January 22, 2018 1:20 pm

(Credit: Shutterstock)

A Fresno, Calif. man is rethinking his diet after one of his favorite dishes came back to bite him in the butt.

Dr. Kenny Banh who works in the emergency room in the Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno shared a horrifyingly fascinating story about one of his patients on a recent episode of “This Won’t Hurt a Bit,” a podcast where experts of medicine share strange and fascinating medical stories. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts

Psychopaths May Be Immune to Contagious Laughter

By Lacy Schley | January 22, 2018 11:00 am

(Credit: Screengrab/YouTube)

Having a good laugh is, among other things, a great way to bond socially. In fact, we’re much more likely to crow when we’re with other people than we are when we’re alone.

And once you hear someone start, it’s hard not to crack up, too. However, a recent study in the journal Current Biology posits that this phenomenon might not be contagious for everyone, specifically for teen boys at risk of psychopathy.

Elizabeth O’Nions of the University College London and her team tested three groups of boys aged 11-16. The first — the control group — was made up of 31 boys who were developmentally typical; a second group consisted of 32 boys who displayed disruptive behaviors and high-callous traits that indicate a risk of developing psychopathy; the final group had 31 boys who also displayed disruptive behaviors but low-callous traits. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, top posts

Your Weekly Attenborough: Ctenocheloides attenboroughi

By Nathaniel Scharping | January 19, 2018 5:10 pm
So ghostly we can't even show you a picture. (Credit: Lubov Chipurko/Shutterstock)

So ghostly we can’t even show you a real picture. This is just a regular shrimp. (Credit: Lubov Chipurko/Shutterstock)

Some species are so rare, so secluded or timid that they flit through our consciousness like a ghost. Perhaps they’re known from no more than a single specimen, others, undoubtedly, exist only in the hazy halls of rumor. The diversity of life is too great for us, a single species, to pin every bit of biodiversity under the spotlight of science. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

For Mars, NASA Is Thinking Nuclear

By Bill Andrews | January 19, 2018 4:35 pm

NASA’s Kilopwer prototype. (Credit: NASA)

Everyone knows NASA has a tough job. Slipping “the surly bonds of Earth” is just the beginning for them. And while getting to the moon, and even Mars, is technically possible right now, one of the biggest problems remains finding and using a decent power source.

So why not use nuclear power? Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: space exploration

Electronic Skin Puts the World in the Palm of Your Hand

By Charlotte Hu | January 19, 2018 1:45 pm

(Credit: Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf e.V.)

Someday, physically touching our electronic devices will be as archaic as standing up from the recliner to change the channel. Voice recognition systems and home assistants can turn on lights, pull up podcasts and order paper towels on command. Cameras in video game systems and televisions can do our bidding with a gesture.

And to the list of hands-free methods of component control, we can add electronic skin.

E-skins have been garnering a lot of attention from software and material engineers over the past few years. Akin to slapping on a Band-Aid, e-skins can track internal health data such as muscle movement, heart rate and brain activity. Some can even track external factors such as ultraviolet light exposure on the body. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts

Why 1 Second Is 1 Second

By Nathaniel Scharping | January 18, 2018 2:49 pm
(Credit: little star/Shutterstock)

(Credit: little star/Shutterstock)

Just what is a second, exactly? The question has been open to interpretation ever since the first long-case grandfather clocks began marking off seconds in the mid-17th century and introduced the concept to the world at large.

The answer, simply, is that a second is 1/60th of a minute, or 1/3600th of an hour. But that’s just pushing the question down the road a bit. After all, what’s an hour? That answer is related to the best means of time-keeping ancient civilizations had — the movement of the Earth through the heavens. The amount of time it takes for the Earth to turn once about its axis, or for it to rotate once about the sun, is fairly stable, and for much of human history, it sufficed as a way of marking the passage of time. Days, hours, minutes — they’re all just derivatives of planetary motion. Read More

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

Hunter-Gatherers Are Masters of Smell

By Matt Benoit | January 18, 2018 2:15 pm

Sniff, sniff. (Credit: Shutterstock)

What’s easier for you: identifying what color something is, or identifying a smell from a source you cannot see? If you’re like most people, color comes more easily.

That, however, isn’t the case for all humans. According to a new study published Thursday in Current Biology, those who practice a hunter-gatherer lifestyle have an edge when it comes to naming a particular funk. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Mind & Brain, top posts
MORE ABOUT: Senses, smell

Even During Deep Sleep, Mouse Pupils Filter the Outside World

By Charlotte Hu | January 18, 2018 12:29 pm

(Credit: Shutterstock)

The eye may not be the window to the soul in the conventional sense, but it is a window into the intricate workings of the mind.

The pupil of the eye fluctuates and varies a lot in humans and many mammals. If tracked during the day, the pupil will not only respond to changes in external stimuli such as light, but also to internal conditions such as attention and emotional states. It is a signifier of what goes on in a person’s head and is linked to brain activity. Does this revelatory behavior continue even when we are no longer awake? Perhaps. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts

Fun Fact: Chameleon Bones Glow in the Dark

By Nathaniel Scharping | January 17, 2018 4:05 pm
Many chameleons glow brightly under a UV lamp. (Credit: DAVID PRÖTZEL/ZSM/LMU)

Many chameleons glow brightly under a UV lamp. (Credit: David Prötzel/ZSM/LMU)

Shine an ultraviolet light on a chameleon in the dark, and it will light up with an eerie blue glow. It’s not their color-changing skin at play here, either. It’s their bones.

It’s long been known that bones fluoresce under ultraviolet light, some researchers have even used the property to find fossils, but our bones are usually all covered up. To let the light out, chameleons have evolved rows of small bony outgrowths along their skeletons that sit just beneath the skin, making it thin enough for the glow to shine through, say researchers from Germany. Read More

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


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