Arranged Bird Marriages Are Less Successful Than True Love

By Carl Engelking | September 14, 2015 3:25 pm


The Beatles famously taught us that love is all we need, and that’s appears to also be true for zebra finch families.

On paper, reproduction is pretty simple: Find the partner with the best genes and make lots of babies. But we humans know that there’s a lot more to finding “the one” than simply a good set of genes.

As it turns out, zebra finches too have certain tastes in a partner. And when they’re allowed to pick a mate they’re compatible with, they have more babies than when they are put in an arranged partnership. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

New Species of Human Ancestor Discovered in South Africa

By Lisa Raffensperger | September 10, 2015 8:28 am
Screenshot via Barcroft TV.

Screenshot via Barcroft TV.

A brand-new species of human ancestor has been identified from a wealth of bones in a cave in South Africa. The new species, Homo naledi, likely lived 2.5 to 2.8 million years ago, at the very root of the Homo lineage.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: human origins

Newly Discovered “Superhenge” Monument Dwarfs Nearby Stonehenge

By Carl Engelking | September 8, 2015 3:46 pm
An illustration of what the newly discovered row of stones would've looked like above ground. (Credit: LBI ArchPro, Juan Torrejón Valdelomar, Joachim Brandtner)

An illustration of what the newly discovered row of stones would’ve looked like above ground. (Credit: LBI ArchPro, Juan Torrejón Valdelomar, Joachim Brandtner)

It’s hard to fathom, but Stonehenge, one of the world’s most iconic wonders, is really just the figurative opening act to a much larger show.

Five years ago, researchers from the University of Bradford starting probing the dirt of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site in Wiltshire, England, with remote-sensing instruments to build a map of what’s buried beneath. The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project has already revealed hundreds of previously unidentified ancient features underfoot, and on Monday the team announced another: a super-sized version of Stonehenge buried just 2 miles away from the iconic ancient site. Read More

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

This Glass Lets You Enjoy Whiskey in Zero Gravity

By Carl Engelking | September 4, 2015 2:10 pm

(Credit: Screengrab from YouTube/Ballantines)

When space tourism eventually takes off, you can guarantee the first travelers to shell out the money to get there will also want to partake in the finer things in life – like a good whiskey — while enjoying their place on top of the world.

But pouring a nicely aged whiskey is basically impossible without gravity there to lend a hand. Fortunately Ballantine’s, a maker of blended Scotch whiskey, has a solution: On Friday the company unveiled its Space Glass, which is the first vessel engineered specifically to deliver a distilled beverage to your lips while enjoying the weightlessness of space. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Technology, top posts

Starfish-Killing Robot May Save the Great Barrier Reef

By Carl Engelking | September 3, 2015 2:04 pm


Scientists have designed a robot that kills with the mechanical efficiency you’d expect from a soulless hunk of metal, but there’s no reason to be concerned.

The COTSbot will soon be set loose to wreak havoc, but for a noble cause: to save the struggling Great Barrier Reef. You see, the reef is under siege by hordes of Crown of Thorns Starfish, prickly menaces that destroy coral, which serves as the foundation for the world’s most complex underwater ecosystem. COTSbot is coral’s new defender. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Technology, top posts
MORE ABOUT: robots, sustainability

Mysterious Wooden Statue Predates Stonehenge, the Pyramids

By Carl Engelking | September 2, 2015 2:31 pm

(Credit: Screengrab from YouTube/Ancient-Astronaut Arguments)

The Big Shigir Idol, a 17-foot wooden statue found in western Siberia in 1890, has puzzled researchers for decades with its unreadable hieroglyphics.

And now the mystery has deepened. A new analysis reveals that the statue is 11,000 years old, more than a millennium older than was originally thought. That makes Big Shigir the oldest wooden sculpture in the world, and more than double the age of the pyramids in Egypt or the structures of Stonehenge.  Read More

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

Confirmed: Lack of Sleep Increases Your Odds of Catching a Cold

By Carl Engelking | September 1, 2015 1:25 pm


The road to good health is paved with plenty of sleep.

Parents and doctors have repeated this bit of wisdom for years; however, the link between your sleeping patterns and the onset of sickness was a parable based on correlation – not causation, the ultimate aim of scientific inquiry.

But scientists have proven that, as always, your mother was correct: It turns out that people who skimp on sleep are four times more likely to catch a cold than the well rested.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts

Wasp Venom Selectively Assassinates Cancer Cells

By Kiona Smith-Strickland | September 1, 2015 11:28 am
The Brazilian wasp Polybia paulista. (Credit: Prof. Mario Palma/Sao Paulo State University)

The Brazilian wasp Polybia paulista. Credit: Prof. Mario Palma/Sao Paulo State University

Many wasp species have chemicals in their venom that kill bacteria. In the last few years, researchers have found that some of these chemicals also kill cancer cells, though exactly how they work has remained a mystery.

Now a new study has described exactly how one of these chemicals works its cancer-fighting magic: by tearing holes in the cancer cells’ outer layer.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Living World

Shock Therapy is Saving Endangered California Condors

By Carl Engelking | August 31, 2015 2:27 pm


North America’s largest bird is on the verge of extinction, and scientists are using shock therapy to give them a fighting chance.

The California condor’s wings stretch nearly 10 feet across to help them glide atop air currents while they search for a meal to scavenge. Power lines are a formidable foe for these birds because their large size makes it easier for them to be electrocuted.

Now, with fewer than 500 California condors remaining, researchers are administering gentle shocks to teach the birds to avoid these dangerous obstacles. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

More Kinds of Bacteria Live In Your House Than in Your Yard

By Kiona Smith-Strickland | August 26, 2015 11:42 am


We often think of our homes as clean and the outdoors as dirty, but it turns out that our homes actually contain a more diverse population of microbes than the dirt outside  and most of them came from you and your pets.

That’s the finding of a new study that surveyed the fungi and bacteria in 1200 houses across the U.S.

Read More

MORE ABOUT: microbes & viruses


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