The holidays are packed with opportunities to raise a glass of our favorite boozy beverages and toast family, friends and good fortunes. But our ability to digest rum-spiked eggnog may be due to a massive climate shift that occurred millions of years ago.
Using the tools of paleogenetics, scientists have recently traced the evolutionary history of an enzyme that helps us metabolize ethanol, the principal type of alcohol found in adult beverages. Scientists believe early human ancestors evolved their ethanol-digesting ability about 10 million years ago to fortify their diet as they shifted from a tree-based lifestyle to a more ground-based lifestyle. Read More
It doesn’t take scientific observation to know that dogs aren’t the most graceful of drinkers. Blame it on their cheeks: dogs have what are called “incomplete cheeks,” which allow them to open their mouths wide but, conversely, means they can’t create suction like humans do when drinking through a straw.
So how do they manage to get a drink? A new study uses high-speed cameras to watch the mechanics of a dog lapping water to reveal the physics tricks at play. Read More
The problem of invasive species is a slippery one for fisheries managers. One of the most notorious invaders, Asian carp, now dominates large portions of freshwater in the central U.S., and keeping them out of the Great Lakes could cost upward of $18 billion, according to a recent study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
There are a number of preventative measures in place to keep invasives from entering new waters. But at present there are few measures that fisheries managers can use to get rid of invasive fish once they’ve established themselves: basically, toxic chemicals, or targeted fishing.
But a better remedy may be as simple as a small dose of electricity. That’s the idea behind a recent study, which found that electrically charged wands can help eradicate invasive fish in small streams with less collateral damage to the ecosystem.
It’s been six years since the 2008 financial collapse, and revelations of dirty deeds in the banking industry are still making headlines even today. By one measure financial services is the least trusted sector of the economy the world over, beating even pharmaceutical companies and — gasp! — journalists.
But the question remains, is this because banking attracts inherently dishonest people? Or is it that the culture of banking encourages otherwise fine people to act badly? A new study on bank employees finds that the latter is overwhelmingly true: bank employees tend to behave dishonestly only after they’ve been made to think about their profession.
Are people born gay or is it a choice? A new study of gay brothers, the largest to date, adds more scientific evidence that there’s a genetic basis for homosexuality.
A genetic analysis of over 409 pairs of gay brothers found that two areas of the human genome, a portion of the X chromosome and a portion of chromosome 8, were associated with the men’s sexual orientation. The findings gel with a smaller study conducted in 1993 that implicated the same area of the X chromosome. Read More
New York City’s urban waterways are again becoming home to some residents who haven’t been seen for hundreds of years: Humpback whales. A common presence in pre-colonial times, humpbacks vanished from New York’s waters as their numbers plummeted globally.
But there are signs of a resurgence. In the busy New York Bay, where the Hudson River meets the Atlantic Ocean, whale spotters have recorded twice as many whales this summer as last summer, and almost 20 times as many as in 2011. Researchers say that a cleaner bay and a growing population of fish for whales to feed on are responsible for the trend.
When you lock lips with that special person, you’re not only sharing your bubbling passions, but also your unique blend of oral bacteria.
In a study that’s sure to stoke the flames of love, scientists discovered that lovebirds exchange some 80 million bacteria after swapping spit for 10 seconds. That sounds like a cavity waiting to happen. But don’t worry: Scientists also found that it takes a lot of kisses to significantly change your mouth’s unique collection of microbes. Read More
Update: 4:32 p.m. Central Time: Philae has come through! The European Space Agency on Friday confirmed that it had reestablished stable communications with the lander. Philae is beaming back more data from the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Scientists also confirmed that they commanded Philae to rotate in order to expose its solar panels to more sunlight. If they can get Philae into more sun, the lander’s batteries could be recharged and extend its mission. We’ll have more on this story as information becomes available.
What a couple days it has been for Rosetta’s Philae lander. And although it’s been a thrill, it appears that the end is near for the little lander that could.
That’s because Philae bounced into the shadow of a cliff, and so it’s unable to generate the electricity it needs to carry out its full plan of months-long observation. Today researchers are scrambling to conduct as many experiments and gather as much data as possible before Philae’s batteries die — likely sometime in the next 14 hours. Read More
If we learned one thing yesterday, it’s that there’s no shortage of drama in space exploration.
After separating from the Rosetta spacecraft, the Philae lander descended toward the surface of Comet 67P/Churuymov-Gerasimenko to make history, but when it reached its destination Philae didn’t quite stick the landing like expected. Read More
After traveling over 4 billion miles, and spending more than a decade in transit, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft’s final stage is in progress: landing a probe, called Philae, on the surface of Comet 67P. The tricky maneuver will be the first of its kind if successful — and we’ll be following its progress here live.