Wild Chimps Look Both Ways Before Crossing the Street

By Carl Engelking | April 20, 2015 12:41 pm
Chimps crossing a busy highway in Uganda. (YouTube screengrab)

Chimps crossing a busy highway in Uganda. (YouTube screengrab)

“Look both ways before you cross the street!”

It’s one of the first, and most important, lessons we learn as children. But humans aren’t the only creatures that heed this crucial bit of advice.

Scientists conducting a 29-month survey in Uganda’s Kibale National Park found that chimpanzees checked for oncoming traffic before crossing the dusty, busy highways that run through the park. Of the 122 chimps that were caught on camera crossing the road, 92 percent of them looked left, right or both ways before crossing. Read More

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

Dogs Use Their Gaze to Make You Love Them

By Carl Engelking | April 17, 2015 11:32 am

puppy couch

One look is all you need to understand the enduring bond between humans and dogs.

Domestic dogs, unlike their wild wolf cousins, are adept at non-nonverbal communication with humans, and a lot of eye contact happens between dogs and their owners. But there’s more to that gaze than meets the eye: When owners and their dogs stare into each other’s eyes, levels of oxytocin — the so called “love” molecule — spike in the bloodstream of both man and dog.

The same effect occurs when a mother stares at her baby, and researchers, in a new study, believe this mutual love-fest is an example of coevolution that helped dogs ditch the wilderness to become man’s best friend. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

Zapping the Brain With Electricity Boosts People’s Creativity

By Carl Engelking | April 16, 2015 3:00 pm


Need some creative, out-of-the box ideas? Try adding a little jolt to your next brainstorming session.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill have found that stimulating the brain with electrical impulses boosts creativity. The impulses, researchers say, activated specific brain waves associated with originative thinking, and people who were buzzed scored significantly higher on a test of creative thought. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, top posts

Poll: When Will We Find Alien Life?

By Lisa Raffensperger | April 16, 2015 1:37 pm
Image credit: Britney Schmidt/Dead Pixel VFX/Univ. of Texas at Austin.

Image credit: Britney Schmidt/Dead Pixel VFX/Univ. of Texas at Austin.


World’s Oldest Stone Tools Found in Africa

By Carl Engelking | April 15, 2015 2:38 pm
A road leading to Lake Turkana in Kenya. The tools were discovered near the lake's western shore. (Credit: Byelikova Oksana/Shutterstock)

A road leading to Lake Turkana in Kenya. The tools were discovered near the lake’s western shore. (Byelikova Oksana/Shutterstock)

Archaeologists say they’ve unearthed the world’s oldest stone tools made by human ancestors at a dig site in Kenya.

The set of 20 stone flakes and anvils, found off the shores of Lake Turkana, appears to have been crafted more than 3.3 million years ago — 500,000 years before our genus Homo, designating the first fully fledged humans, came to be. The implications, if the evidence holds up, will be far-reaching, since it has long been believed that tool-making was a skill exclusive to Homo. Sonia Harmand announced the findings this week at the annual Paleoanthropology Society meeting in California. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

Irradiated Meteors May Have Delivered Earth’s Ingredients for Life

By Carl Engelking | April 14, 2015 2:37 pm


Radiation-blasted meteors may serve as the universe’s cosmic crockpots, slowly cooking ingredients needed to spark life, scientists say in a new study.

One of the most ubiquitous substances in the universe is a molecule called formamide. Clouds of formamide thousands of light years wide have been detected in interstellar space — so, basically, it’s everywhere. And when researchers blasted high-energy protons at a mixture of powdered meteorites and liquid formamide, the combination yielded all of the fundamental building blocks — except phosphates — necessary for life.

The results challenge theories of how life began here on Earth, and widen the range of scenarios in which life could emerge elsewhere in the universe. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts

Watch Live: SpaceX’s Second Attempt at Unprecedented Rocket Landing

By Carl Engelking | April 13, 2015 12:34 pm
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket lifts off during a flight in February. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lifts off during a flight in February. (SpaceX)

Update: SpaceX was forced to postpone its sixth resupply mission just three minutes before launch Monday due to an approaching anvil cloud that drifted too close to the launch site in Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The next attempt is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. EDT Tuesday.

SpaceX is about to make its second attempt at something that’s never been done in the history of space exploration: Launch a rocket, then land said rocket.

The private spaceflight company is scheduled to launch one of its Falcon 9 rockets, affixed with a Dragon capsule, at 4:33 p.m. EDT Monday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, completing the sixth of 12 planned commercial resupply missions to the International Space Station. But the resupply mission, though important, isn’t the main event: Spaceflight fans will be watching to see if the Falcon 9 rocket can autonomously guide itself to a gentle landing back on Earth.

If the mission goes as planned — SpaceX higher-ups are putting the odds of a successful landing at 75 to 80 percent — it will be a huge step toward the company’s long-term goal of making space travel less expensive through the use of reusable rockets. You can watch live coverage of the historic attempt right here, courtesy of SpaceX, beginning at 3:30 p.m. EDT.

Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Technology, top posts

Liquid Water Could Be Just Beneath the Surface on Mars

By Sarah Scoles | April 13, 2015 10:00 am
Gale crater on Mars. Image credit: NASA/JPL/CalTech

Gale crater on Mars. Image credit: NASA/JPL/CalTech

It’s nothing you’d want to baste a turkey with, but researchers have found evidence of supersalty brines on the surface of Mars.

By lowering the melting point of water and actively absorbing vapor, the salts might allow for liquid water to exist on Mars — not billions of years in the past, but right now.

Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts

Artists Make Pottery Out of Your Smartphone’s Toxic Waste

By Carl Engelking | April 10, 2015 9:54 am

Three finished vases produced using the amount of waste created by a smartphone, laptop and electric car battery, respectively. (Toby Smith/Unknown Fields)

For most of us, our smartphone’s “life” began the second we walked out of a sleek electronics store and ripped the new device out of its packaging. But if you really trace your phone back to its birthplace, you’ll probably end up in a toxic, radioactive lake in Inner Mongolia.

We know this thanks to a group of architects, writers and designers called the Unknown Fields Division who trekked across the globe to document, in reverse, the environmentally taxing journey our phones and other gadgets take before they ever arrive in our pockets. Through photos, video and even radioactive ceramics, Unknown Fields vividly reveals the toxic cost of our gadget obsession. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Technology, top posts
MORE ABOUT: gadgets, pollution

Fluorescent Dye for Tumors Is Now Being Tested in People

By Carl Engelking | April 8, 2015 2:00 pm
A vile of Tumor Paint. (Credit: Blaze Bioscience)

A vial of Tumor Paint. (Credit: Blaze Bioscience)

Venom from one the world’s most dangerous species, the Israeli deathstalker scorpion, could someday save cancer patients’ lives.

A cancer-detecting molecule found in the venom, when paired with a glowing dye, is providing scientists a new way to see tumors during surgery. The experimental product, called Tumor Paint, could someday help doctors locate and excise deadly tumors with precision. Now, the company has begun testing the paint in a small group of human patients for the first time. Read More

MORE ABOUT: biotechnology, cancer

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