Last week, the death of a lion named Cecil dominated the news and social media. Even before then, Cecil had been somewhat famous, for a lion. He resided in a national park, appeared in pictures and was the subject of scientific research. But his death in early July, at the hand of an American hunter, shot Cecil into the headlines. In the wake of the media frenzy, we are left wondering why one...
The tree of life might seem like a stable design, appropriate for indelible ink. Plenty of people think so. An Internet search for “phylogenetic tattoos” turns up some showy skin art.
But the branches are shifting. Since a radial diagram based on 1990s genetics inspired a rush for tree-of-life tattoos, technical diagrams of life’s ancestral connections have been redrawn. And the...
In a steamy Louisiana marsh, crickets do their best impersonation of a canary in a coal mine.
Afloat in orange cages on the coastal wetland, the featherless chirpers warn researchers of toxic fumes rising from oil. Oozing oil is a recurring yet elusive problem on the marsh in Barataria Bay, just south of New Orleans. One day, a patch of the wetland is green and lush, the next it’s...
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The Earth and moon’s celestial dance was a lot wilder during the pair’s youth.
By simulating the early moon’s orbit, researchers have reconstructed what the moon’s phases would have looked like during the solar system’s early years. The result, presented online March 10 at arXiv.org, reveals a moon that alternated rapidly between its sunlit and shadowy sides and...
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To dodge obstacles, pigeons have to know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. By altering their wing posture, the birds can successfully navigate tight spots, researchers report March 2 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences.
Harvard University researchers filmed and modeled the flight dynamics of wild rock pigeons (Columbia livia) as they flew...
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There’s just enough time left in 2014 to sneak in one more scientific anniversary, and it just might be the most noteworthy of them all. Fifty years ago last month, John Stewart Bell transformed forever the human race’s grasp on the mystery of quantum physics. He proved a theorem establishing the depth of quantum weirdness, deflating the hopes of Einstein and others...
Scientists spend a lot of time planning. Planning the next set of experiments, the next paper, the next funding application. An hour on a coveted piece of equipment can require several months of legwork. Mice or other animals for experiments have to be bred years in advance — foresight that takes planning.
It’s one thing to plan for experiments you’d like to do. Preparing for scenarios...
Serving breakfast in the classroom can boost elementary school students' attendance, and more students eat breakfast at school when the meal is served in the classroom rather than in the cafeteria, researchers report November 24 in JAMA Pediatrics. The study did not find any differences in reading and math abilities based on standardized-test performance in schools that do or do not serve...
The news these days is awash in viruses. The tragedy of the Ebola outbreak has seized headlines, as it should, but there’s another virus lurking beneath the fold, one that has some parents and schools worried. This mysterious enterovirus has been linked to severe respiratory diseases and even deaths in kids around the United States.
From mid-August to October 17, the virus, called EV-D68...
Math may help scientists figure out who is responsible for massive tracts of trash in the oceans — and the culprits may not be the obvious suspects.
Using mathematical simulations of ocean currents, researchers at the University of New South Wales in Sydney show that plastic garbage may take circuitous cruises before joining patches of floating debris in distant oceans. The study,...