Surviving the Hunt: Female Elk Get Sneakier With Age

By Erica Tennenhouse | June 14, 2017 1:00 pm
cow-elk

(Credit: Tony Campbell/Shutterstock)

Cougars, wolves, and bears (oh my!) all scour the landscape of Western Canada, ready to take out an elk if the opportunity arises. Although each of these predators poses a deadly threat to unsuspecting ungulates, elk have an even bigger problem to deal with: hordes of humans that invade the region every autumn armed with rifles, bows and arrows.

But as female elk grow older and wiser, researchers have found, they learn to outwit fervent hunters by changing up their routines and laying low. Read More

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

Flatworm Travels to Space With One Head, Comes Back With Two

By Nathaniel Scharping | June 13, 2017 2:57 pm
The "double-headed worm from space." (Credit: Junji Morokuma/Tufts University)

The “double-headed worm from space.” Look for the googly eyes. (Credit: Junji Morokuma/Tufts University)

Researchers have been sending animals to space for decades, and the growing roster includes everything from dogs and monkeys to scorpions and jellyfish. But a more recent animal space traveler returned to Earth with something never before seen: an extra head.

The newly bi-cranial creature is a flatworm of the species Dugesia japonica, one of 15 flown above the International Space Station for five weeks by Tufts University researchers. The flatworms were cut in half before being launched to study their unique regenerative abilities. Severing a flatworm usually just results in two identical flatworms, but something appears to have gone awry in one individual, who returned with another head where his tail should have been. Read More

Alien Life Could Easily Planet Hop in This Tantalizing Solar System

By Carl Engelking | June 13, 2017 2:19 pm
trappist-1

An artist’s conception of TRAPPIST-1. (Credit: ESO)

If we detect alien life on a planet in the TRAPPIST solar system, there’s a chance they’ve already spread to one or more of the other six planets orbiting this ultra-cool, ultra-tiny star some 40 light-years away.

In May 2016, scientists made headlines when they discovered three, Earth-size, rocky planets (in February scientists announced they found four more) orbiting a red dwarf star that’s roughly the size of Jupiter. Planets in this system huddle around their home star in tightly packed orbits—TRAPPIST-1b circles its star once per day. And since red dwarfs are cooler than our sun, it’s thought that several of these planets could be habitable, despite close proximity to their star. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts

As We Age, Friends Can Trump Family Ties

By Mark Barna | June 13, 2017 8:00 am

friends_elderly

The importance of family relationships to happiness is pretty much viewed as a given. Blood relationships come with a closeness not found elsewhere in social relationships. Geneticists and sociologists tell us through science why this is the case.

Friends, though, ride on the periphery: acknowledged as important anecdotally, but seldom the subject of rigorous introspection and scientific study. This is strange given that many families are geographically distant, as people make interstate and international moves for job opportunities and other reasons. The days of having your uncle around the corner and parents living down the street aren’t the norm even in Midwest rural communities. Moreover, family interactions can be full of politics and stress. These days, friends are, in many cases, people’s surrogate family. Read More

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

A Rare Genetic Mutation Reveals Secrets of the Common Cold

By Nathaniel Scharping | June 12, 2017 3:20 pm
(Credit: nenetus/Shutterstock)

(Credit: nenetus/Shutterstock)

A rare mutation that nearly killed a young girl has revealed insights into the common cold.

Researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases conducted a genetic analysis of a child who had been laid low by repeated bouts of rhinovirus (the virus that causes colds) and influenza infections severe enough to place her on life support. By combing through her genome, they found a single mutation that they say obstructed her body’s natural disease-fighting pathway. The finding not only helped to solve a medical mystery, it could also give us new assets in the fight against common viral infections. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts

Drone and 360-Degree Video Tech Showcases Aquaculture in Tanzania

By Lauren Sigfusson | June 8, 2017 3:20 pm
(Credit: Shutterstock)

(Credit: Shutterstock)

SecondMuse, an agency that collaborates with organizations to help solve complex problems, looked to the latest drone and 360 video technologies to help showcase aquaculture — the farming of aquatic life-forms — in Tanzania.

Last year, the Blue Economy Challenge awarded 10 projects for their creative uses of aquaculture. Led by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s InnovationXchange, in partnership with SecondMuse, the goal was to award projects that both help reduce environmental impact and increase sustainability. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts
MORE ABOUT: gadgets

Blustery Winds Push European Energy Prices…Negative

By Nathaniel Scharping | June 8, 2017 1:11 pm
(Credit: Kai Gradert/Unsplash)

(Credit: Kai Gradert/Unsplash)

Recent weather conditions in Europe have been a boon to the renewable energy grid there, pushing prices briefly negative overnight as high winds forced turbines into overdrive.

Energy prices in the U.K. dipped into the negatives for five hours on June 7, according to Argus, an industry analytics firm, and Danish wind farms supplied more than 100 percent of the country’s needs, both situations indicating a need for utility companies to sell off excess power. This type of energy surplus, which has happened before both in Europe and the U.S., is good news for proponents of renewable energy, but also indicates the need for updated power grids capable of handling such surges, say industry leaders. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment

Aliens, Comets or Crap? What’s Going On With The Wow! Signal?

By John Wenz | June 8, 2017 9:00 am
Ohio State University's Big Ear Observatory caught one of the most promising SETI signals ever back in 1977. Astronomer are still debating if it came from aliens, or something closer to home. ( Credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF)

Ohio State University’s Big Ear Observatory caught one of the most promising SETI signals ever back in 1977. Astronomers are still debating if it came from aliens, or something closer to home. (Credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF)

In 1977, Ohio State University math professor Jerry Ehman walked into the Big Ear Observatory and looked over the past few nights’ observations. At the time, the radio telescope was the only observatory exclusively devoted to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).

It also was underfunded and had no full-time staff. That means no one was listening for aliens the night SETI had its closest call with the big one. On the night of Aug. 15, 1977, a 72-second signal arrived from deep space just at the right frequency astronomers believe aliens would use. Since no staff members were around, no one could alert other telescopes to listen in. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts

For the First Time, Astronomers Measure the Mass of a Star Using General Relativity

By Nathaniel Scharping | June 7, 2017 3:27 pm
The white dwarf Stein 2051 B, and the background star, visible as a small dot, that allowed its mass to be measured. (Credit: NASA, ESA, and K. Sahu (STScI))

The white dwarf Stein 2051 B, and the background star, visible as a small dot, that allowed its mass to be measured. (Credit: NASA, ESA, and K. Sahu (STScI))

For the first time, astronomers have measured the mass of a star by observing the way its mass deforms light passing by it.

It’s an observation that Einstein predicted but thought could never actually happen, due to the incredibly precise alignment between distant astronomical objects it entails. But using modern observing tools, researchers recently found and tracked two distant stars as they lined up almost perfectly. Read More

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

These Pine Trees Always Point Toward the Equator, But Why?

By Nathaniel Scharping | June 6, 2017 1:50 pm
Cook Pines line a walkway in Sri Lanka (Credit: eFesenko/Shutterstock)

Cook Pines line a walkway in Sri Lanka (Credit: eFesenko/Shutterstock)

In a world of upright trees, one species dares to be different.

Cook pines, a type of tall, slim evergreen native to a remote island in the South Pacific, at first glance appear to be falling over. Many tilt precariously to the side as if caught in a heavy wind, though no breeze ruffles their foliage. Though it may seem the result of chance, observe a stand of Cook pines, especially in locations far from their native habitat, and a kind of unnerving hive-mentality emerges. The trees all lean the same way, as if commanded by some ur-pine from afar. Read More

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