Something Strange Happened to U.S. Honeybee Colonies

By Carl Engelking | May 14, 2015 2:56 pm


A new survey outlining honeybee colony losses in the U.S. has scientists scratching their heads: For the first time, beekeepers watched more of their colonies disappear during the summer than in winter.

Summer colony losses reached 27.4 percent, exceeding winter losses that came in at 23.7 percent, according to preliminary results from an annual survey of roughly 6,100 beekeepers released Wednesday by the Bee Informed Partnership, a research partner with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Overall, colony losses during the 12-month period that ended in April reached 42.1 percent — the second-highest annual loss to date. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Living World, top posts

WATCH: Trap-Jaw Ants Use Their Chops to Backflip Out of Danger

By Carl Engelking | May 13, 2015 1:28 pm


When trap-jaw ants find themselves in trouble, they’ll literally flip out.

Trap-jaw ants have specialized, spring-loaded jaws that snap shut at some of the fastest speeds ever recorded for animal movement. They deploy those powerful mandibles primarily to attack and throw enemies, but trap-jaws, scientists recently discovered, also use their chops defensively to fling themselves away from predators by executing a maneuver called the “jaw jump.” Read More

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

Rats Forgo Treats to Rescue a Distressed Cage Mate

By Carl Engelking | May 12, 2015 1:45 pm

A dry helper rat (left) works to pry open a door to liberate a soaked rat in a distressing pool room. (Credit: Sato, N. et al./Springer)

Somewhere along the way, “rat” became the operative term for a double-crossing, backstabbing person who betrays their friends. But in reality, rats — the cheese-loving kind — won’t hesitate to help a fellow rat in dire straits.

In a new study, researchers placed two rats in a cage divided in half by a wall with a small door. On one side of the wall, a rat sat high and dry. But on the other side, a second rat was soaked and left to sit in a pool of water; rats hate getting wet. When the dry rat noticed the distressed and drenched cage mate, the dry rat consistently opened the door to liberate the comrade. Researchers say their findings suggest that rats may experience empathy. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Mind & Brain, top posts

Your Poop Is the Latest Privacy Threat

By Kiona Smith-Strickland | May 11, 2015 2:00 pm

fecal sample

Be careful who you trust with that stool sample; it could be used to identify you. Researchers say they’ve found a way to tell people apart based on the population of bacteria in their poop. They say it works about 86 percent of the time, at least among a relatively small group of test subjects.

Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts
MORE ABOUT: microbiome

Dawn Images Reveal New Details About Ceres’ Bright Spots

By Carl Engelking | May 11, 2015 1:14 pm

New images show that Ceres’ pair of bright spots is actually composed of many smaller spots. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

The mystery behind Ceres’ bright spots only deepened Monday with the release of new higher-resolution images of the dwarf planet’s surface.

On May 3 and 4, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft crept within 8,400 miles of Ceres — its closest approach yet — to snap more detailed photos of the intriguing surface. As it turns out, the two bright spots are actually composed of many smaller splotches, but scientists still don’t know what these spots are made of or how they got there. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts

Ebola Lurked in Patient’s Eye, Turning It From Blue to Green

By Carl Engelking | May 8, 2015 12:52 pm


Doctors are learning that Ebola has a nasty habit of sticking around.

Dr. Ian Crozier, who worked with the World Health Organization in Sierra Leone, thought he had won his life-threatening battle against Ebola in October, but two months later he was back in the hospital complaining of intense eye pain and fading sight. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts

Rejected Baby Chimp Gets a New Surrogate Mother

By Carl Engelking | May 7, 2015 1:42 pm
Baby Keeva peeks over the shoulder of her caretaker. (Credit: The Maryland Zoo/Facebook)

Baby Keeva peeks over the shoulder of her caretaker. (Credit: The Maryland Zoo/Facebook)

A baby chimp that was rejected by her mother at birth has been matched with a surrogate mom.

Keeva was born March 12 at The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, but she recently made the journey down to Tampa Bay’s Lowry Park Zoo to get acquainted with her new troop and mother — a 32-year-old chimp named Abby that knows a thing or two about raising orphans. It’s a fairy-tale ending to a long journey. Read More

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

Measles Weakens the Immune System for Years

By Kiona Smith-Strickland | May 7, 2015 1:00 pm


The outbreak of measles that originated at Disneyland earlier this year drew lots of attention to gaps in vaccination for the disease. More than 100 people were infected before the outbreak was brought under control in April.

However, the effects of measles may be with those individuals for quite some time. A new study finds that the measles virus erases the immune system’s memory, leaving patients vulnerable to other infectious diseases for up to three years afterward.

And researchers think that’s why the advent of vaccination against measles also seemed to reduce childhood deaths from other infectious diseases. It appears that vaccination protects against not just the measles virus, but also many other diseases.

Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts

This Was the Most Radical Shift in U.S. Music of the Last 50 Years

By Carl Engelking | May 6, 2015 12:36 pm

record player

The Beatles are credited with igniting a rock ’n’ roll revolution when they toured the United States in 1964. I don’t want to spoil the party, but that revolution was well underway in the states long before the mop-top quartet arrived, and this is more than just a rumor. It’s science.

Researchers in the United Kingdom used big data analysis to build the first evolutionary history of popular music in the United States. They processed over 17,000 songs that appeared on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 list from 1960 to 2010 to pinpoint style trends, musical diversity and the timing of revolutions.

According to their results, the single most radical change in American music had nothing to do with “the British Invasion.” Instead, it occurred much more recently, with the surge in popularity of hip-hop.  Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Technology, top posts
MORE ABOUT: computers, math

Creepy Edison Dolls Speak Again With New Technology

By Carl Engelking | May 5, 2015 3:01 pm
Edison's talking doll on display at the Thomas Edison Museum in Fort Myers, Fla. (Credit: Kai Schreiber/Flickr)

Edison’s talking doll on display at the Thomas Edison Museum in Fort Myers, Fla. (Credit: Kai Schreiber/Flickr)

Did you know Thomas Edison’s phonograph company manufactured a line of talking dolls in 1890? Probably not, since the dolls were a complete flop — production only lasted six weeks.

But in terms of historical significance, the wax cylinders that stored those voices represent the first entertainment records ever produced. However, collectors have been loath to play those phonographs for fear they would damage the historically significant artifacts. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts

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