Fierce and swift, steel blue in color and called the world’s most perfect flying machine, the peregrine falcon is heading toward extinction in North America. The reason: DDT. Perilously high levels of the pesticide and related chemicals have been found in the eggs, fat and tissues of the birds…. [The falcons] are not picking up the DDT directly, but get it by eating other birds which...02/14/2019 - 07:00 Animals, Conservation, Toxicology
Pondering a tablet screen displaying a town scene, a pre-K student tilts her head to the side and taps her lip thoughtfully.
“What are we trying to find?” asks the plush, red and blue robot called Tega that’s perched on the desk beside the girl. The bot resembles a teddy bear–sized Furby.
“We are trying to find lavender-colored stuff,” the girl explains. Lavender is a new...
Letters to the Editor
Defining intelligence02/10/2019 - 07:15 Artificial Intelligence, Astronomy, Animals
Artificial intelligence followed fauna, diagnosed disease, mapped the moon and more in 2018, Maria Temming reported in “Artificial intelligence is mastering a wider variety of jobs than ever before” (SN: 12/22/18 & 1/5/19, p. 25).
Online reader greg found the term “artificial intelligence” misleading. “In reality what we call AI are merely classification...
For centuries, scientists have strived to figure out the workings of the human brain, but that blob of matter tucked inside a bony shell long resisted efforts to divine its secrets.02/10/2019 - 07:00 Neuroscience, Mental Health, Biomedicine
Techniques invented in the early 1900s, including angiography and electroencephalography, made it possible to examine some characteristics of the brain without invading the skull. But it wasn’t until the...
Like seismic sensors planted in quiet ground, hundreds of tiny electrodes rested in the outer layer of the 44-year-old woman’s brain. These sensors, each slightly larger than a sesame seed, had been implanted under her skull to listen for the first rumblings of epileptic seizures.
The electrodes gave researchers unprecedented access to the patient’s brain. With the woman’s permission,...
Climate change, extreme weather events and debates over climate mitigation strategies dominated the news for much of the last year. Yet climate scientists continually wrestle with how best to talk about these issues: Should discussions of climate change appeal directly to people’s emotions, whether fear or anger or even hope? Or are data-driven discussions the way to go?...
Dogs that lived alongside Middle Eastern villagers roughly 11,500 years ago may have helped to transform how those humans hunted, researchers say.
Fragmentary canine bones unearthed at Shubayqa 6, an ancient site in northeastern Jordan, date to a time when remains of hares and other small prey at the outpost sharply increased, say zooarchaeologist Lisa Yeomans of the University of...
After some 20 years of theorizing, a scientist is publicly renouncing the “beautiful hypothesis” that male birds’ sexy songs could indicate the quality of their brains.
Behavioral ecologist Steve Nowicki of Duke University called birdsong “unreliable” as a clue for choosy females seeking a smart mate, in a paper published in the March 2018 Animal Behaviour. He will also soon publish...
A sleep-deprived brain is awash in excess amounts of not one but two proteins whose bad behavior is implicated in Alzheimer’s disease.
A new study finds excessive amounts of a protein called tau in the fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord of extremely sleep-deprived adults. Tau, which is tied to nerve cell death, tangles and spreads throughout the brain during Alzheimer’s. An...
News in Brief
Only months after their first ocean swim, young emperor penguins are braving Antarctica’s treacherous winter seas. GPS trackers strapped to 15 young penguins showed the birds venturing north to warmer waters beyond Antarctica’s pack ice in December 2013, and returning a few months later as the waters chilled.
That finding surprised some scientists, who thought the inexperienced juveniles...