Latest Blog Posts


Chimpanzees See Butts Like We See Faces

By Nathaniel Scharping | December 5, 2016 3:21 pm

Chimpanzees may look at each other’s butts the same way we look at faces.

A pair of researchers from Leiden University in the Netherlands and Kyoto University in Japan studied how chimps process images of other chimps’ rear ends, and found that they perceive them in the same way that we do faces. Chimps seem unable to recognize posteriors well when they are flipped upside down. Humans experience the same difficulty — what’s called an inversion effect — when looking at faces.


CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Mind & Brain
MORE ABOUT: animals, Senses


Massive fracture in Antarctic ice shelf is 70 miles long, a football field wide, and a third of a mile deep

By Tom Yulsman | December 5, 2016 12:22 pm

A massive rift in the Antarctic Peninsula’s Larsen C ice shelf has been growing steadily, threatening to cut all the way across. If it does, an iceberg roughly the size of the state of Delaware — and perhaps even bigger — will float off.

New observations by scientists on NASA’s IceBridge mission, an airborne survey of polar ice, reveal that the rift is now about 70 miles long. And it cuts down about 1,700 feet, all the way through the floating shelf of ice.

Should Larsen C thro …

Dead Things

Tetrapod Triumph! Solving Mystery Of First Land Vertebrates

By Gemma Tarlach | December 5, 2016 10:00 am

Let’s talk about Romer’s Gap, not to be confused with the Gap of Rohan (though I would love to talk about that, too, as I am always up for a bit of Tolkien). Romer’s Gap is an intriguing question mark in the fossil record that today loses a little of its mystery.

On the far side of the gap, about 360 million years ago, we’ve got aquatic tetrapods — vertebrates with four limbs — which were at that point still pretty fishy (note: not actual scientific term). On the near side of the ga …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts


Breakthrough Prize-Winning Scientists Share $25 Million

By Steve Nadis | December 4, 2016 7:00 pm

During the 5th Annual Breakthrough Prize ceremony, an affair with all the trappings of the Oscars, a handful of scientists in the fields of life sciences, physics, and mathematics became millionaires.

Never before has more cash been placed in the hands of the world’s brightest minds.

The event is the brainchild of Yuri Milner, a Russian-born internet entrepreneur who is now based (as might be expected) in Silicon Valley. Other founders of the Breakthrough Prize attended as well, incl …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts


Do Synapses Really Store Memories?

By Neuroskeptic | December 4, 2016 2:34 pm

Most neuroscientists will tell you that long-term memories are stored in the brain in the form of synapses, the connections between neurons. On this view, memory formation occurs when synaptic connections are strengthened, or entirely new synapses are formed.

However, in a new piece in Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, Austrian researcher Patrick C. Trettenbrein critiques the synapse-memory theory: The Demise of the Synapse As the Locus of Memory.

Trettenbrein acknowledges that “t …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: animals, papers, select, Top Posts

Citizen Science Salon

Making Citizen Science Tools Accessible and Discoverable

By Guest | December 4, 2016 8:34 am

At SciStarter, we aim to make it easy to find and join meaningful citizen science projects. Choose a location, activity, or topic to find appropriate adventures and learn more about the project and what tools (sensors, digital scales, rain gauges, etc) are needed to participate. But, for many projects and would-be participants, there are challenges to accessing the right tools for the job. (We define “tools” as equipment not usually found at home.) So, we took the follow steps to find a solu …


Citizen Science Salon

Citizen Scientists, Citizen Educators

By Eva Lewandowski | December 3, 2016 1:29 pm

When most people think about citizen scientists, they tend to think of them as data collectors, volunteering their time to report wildlife sightings, gather microbe samples, or transcribe old weather reports. It’s true that data collection is the primary task of most citizen scientists, but many volunteers take their participation a step further by designing experiments, analyzing data, and conducting education and outreach. The last task is the one that I think is the most interesting and acc …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Education


An Imposing Egyptian Queen, Survived Only By Her Knees

By Nathaniel Scharping | December 2, 2016 4:19 pm

After years of speculation, researchers have proven that a pair of mummified knees found in Egypt’s Valley of the Queens once belonged to Queen Nefertari, wife of Ramses the Great.

The partial legs are all that remain of the legendarily beautiful Nefertari, who was buried in a lavish tomb during Egypt’s 19th Dynasty, around the 13th century B.C. At some point after her death, robbers ransacked the tomb.
Everything But The Knees
It was likely during this raid that her body was dismember …

MORE ABOUT: archaeology


Parkour Athletes Teach Scientists about Swinging Apes

By Elizabeth Preston | December 2, 2016 12:40 pm

“I was at a conference, and a colleague was talking about the locomotion of great apes in the trees,” says Lewis Halsey, a physiologist at the University of Roehampton in London. The colleague mentioned that it’s tough to measure how these animals use energy. That’s when Halsey had an epiphany. “I was working with parkour athletes on another project,” he says, studying how much energy the athletes used while jumping and climbing around a city. Why not use these human athletes to stand  …



For Cancer Patients, Psilocybin Brings Much-needed Relief

By Nathaniel Scharping | December 1, 2016 3:18 pm

Two recent studies of psilocybin, the psychoactive compound in so-called magic mushrooms, contend that the chemical can act as a powerful remedy for cancer patients suffering from depression and anxiety.

The two studies, one from New York University and one from Johns Hopkins University, are the largest and most rigorous studies of psilocybin and depression in decades, and they report that the anti-depressant effects of the drug can last for months, offering relief to chronically ill pat …


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