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  • Feature

    Noise made by humans can be bad news for animals

    I keep looking over my shoulder at the dark wall of roadside trees that passing headlights make slightly less black. Muggers are less of a worry than some suburban samaritan materializing out of the winter gloom to ask if everything’s OK with a reporter down on her hands and knees in front of a parked car, caressing the pavement.Explanation would not be easy. This is not an obvious place to pull...
    02/09/2015 - 13:00 Ecology, Animals, Conservation
  • News

    Single photon detected but not destroyed

    Physicists have seen a single particle of light and then let it go on its way. The feat was possible thanks to a new technique that, for the first time, detects optical photons without destroying them. The technology could eventually offer perfect detection of photons, providing a boost to quantum communication and even biological imaging.Plenty of commercially available instruments can identify...
    11/14/2013 - 14:05 Physics
  • Reviews & Previews

    Behind the Shock Machine

    In 1963, Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram reported an appalling discovery: 65 percent of volunteers would deliver electrical shocks to another person at levels they believed were lethal if an experimenter asked them to. Ordinary people, it seemed, could easily be convinced to do monstrous things by authority figures.The famous obedience experiment resonated in postwar America, where the trials...
    09/06/2013 - 10:51 Psychology
  • News

    Stretchy, see-through material conducts electricity

    View the videos A thin skin of Jell-O—like material made of salty gel and rubbery tape can work as a completely transparent loudspeaker. The new device can carry current — and it’s stretchier and more see-through than today’s best transparent electronic materials, Christoph Keplinger of Harvard University and colleagues...
    08/30/2013 - 16:57 Technology
  • News in Brief

    Dolphins name themselves with a whistle

    To call a dolphin, just whistle a squeaky shout-out.Bottlenose dolphins answer to high-pitched bursts of sound — but each animal responds to only one specific trill, its “signature whistle,” Stephanie King and Vincent Janik of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland report July 22 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The signature whistle, a distinct tune each...
    07/22/2013 - 15:27 Animals
  • News in Brief

    Hawkmoths squeak their genitals at threatening bats

    View the video Sonar pings from a hungry bat closing in can inspire hawkmoths to get their genitals trilling.The ultrasonic “eeeee” of scraping moth sex organs may serve as a last-second acoustic defense, says behavioral ecologist Jesse Barber of Boise State University in Idaho. In theory, the right squeak could jam bats’ targeting sonar, remind them of a noisy moth that...
    07/03/2013 - 11:14 Animals
  • News

    Sound cloaks enter the third dimension

    A simple plastic shell has cloaked a three-dimensional object from sound waves for the first time. With some improvements, a similar cloak could eventually be used to reduce noise pollution and to allow ships and submarines to evade enemy detection. The experiments appear March 20 in Physical Review Letters. “This paper implements a simplified version of invisibility using well-designed...
    03/29/2013 - 09:47 Matter & Energy
  • Feature

    As Erebus Lives and Breathes

    MCMURDO STATION, ANTARCTICA — Even when the December sun beats down 24 hours a day, most of Antarctica remains cold, if not brutally frigid. With one dramatic exception. Wind-blown clouds of steam rise year-round from a lava lake atop Mount Erebus, the planet’s southernmost active volcano.This ice-covered cone belongs to a small chain of otherwise dormant peaks that make up Ross...
    03/20/2013 - 20:14 Physics
  • News

    How the elephant gets its infrasound

    Elephants don’t purr so much as sing when they unleash low-frequency rumblings at friends and foes kilometers away. Too low for humans to hear, the infrasonic components of elephants’ calls have at times been attributed to a process similar to a cat’s contented thrum. But new measurements made by blowing air through the voice box, or larynx, of a deceased zoo elephant suggest that the mechanism...
    08/02/2012 - 14:04 Life & Evolution
  • News

    Peacocks ruffle feathers, make a rumble

    ALBUQUERQUE — Unbeknownst to humans, peacocks may be having infrasonic conversations. New recordings reveal that males showing off their feathers make deep rumbling sounds that are too low pitched for humans to hear. Other peacocks hear it though, Angela Freeman reported June 13 at the annual meeting of the Animal Behavior Society. When she played recordings of the newly...
    06/18/2012 - 17:35 Life & Evolution