Discover (32)

"Hyper Brains"? High Intelligence and Health

A few weeks ago I blogged about the idea that high-IQ people suffer from an inability to communicate with less gifted folk. Now, a new paper claims that very intelligent people are more prone to mental illnesses and allergies. However, I don't think the paper is very smart. Researchers Ruth I. ...

'Lights-Out' Manufacturing Hits Main Street

Robots toiling day and night assembling widgets and thingamabobs in pitch-black warehouses isn't some mustache-twirling industrialist tycoon's fantasy. It's here, it's the future of manufacturing, and it's not just the multinational conglomerates that stand to benefit from the robot labor ...

Girl Scouts Think Like Citizen Scientists

By Sharon Karasick Girl Scouts are encouraged to try all sorts of new things in their scouting experience, a commitment reflected in their new motto: 'When she's a Girl Scout, she's also a G.I.R.L. ™.  While many troops still embrace the traditional three c's of crafts, camping, and cookies, Girl ...

Scaring Babies for Science

"Snakes, why'd it have to be snakes?" so sayeth Indiana Jones, and so, apparently, say babies too. In a study published Wednesday in Frontiers in Psychology, European neuroscientists determined that our instinctive fears of snakes and spiders are so primal, even babies become alarmed at the sight of ...

Beluga Living with Dolphins Swaps Her Calls for Theirs

In November 2013, a four-year-old captive beluga whale moved to a new home. She had been living in a facility with other belugas. But in her new pool, the Koktebel dolphinarium in Crimea, her only companions were dolphins. The whale adapted quickly: she started imitating the unique whistles of ...

When Wealth Inequality Arose

We've heard how great times used to be, and I don't mean in 1950s America. For eons, our hunter-gatherer ancestors shared their spoils with one another, didn't own much and had very little social hierarchy. Sure, it wasn't all kumbaya and high-fives. But the fact that individuals had so few personal ...

New Zealand Songbirds Attack Rivals That Sing Pretty Songs

Birds are territorial creatures, and they'll passionately defend their chosen area from unwanted intrusions. For some songbirds, it doesn't even take a physical breach to draw their ire — if you're a lovely singer, they'll attack. New Zealand's tui songbirds certainly aren't doing the "jealous ...

Problematic Neuropeptides And Statistics

Back in May I discussed a paper published in PNAS which, I claimed, was using scientific terminology in a sloppy way. The authors, Pearce et al., used the word "neuropeptides" to refer to six molecules, but three of them weren't neuropeptides at all. The authors acknowledged this minor error and ...

The Orionid Meteor Shower Peaks This Weekend

If you're out enjoying the predawn darkness Saturday, you'll likely see a number of bright streaks peppering the sky. These are Orionid meteors, which belong to an annual shower that peaks before dawn. Observers under a dark sky could see up to 20 meteors per hour shortly before twilight begins, ...

Flashback Friday: Scientists identify the top 10 relationship deal-breakers.

Finally, an expression popularized by the TV show 30 Rock has made it into the scientific literature. In this study, the scientists used surveys to identify and rank the top 10 relationship deal-breakers for both short-term and long-term relationships. The table is reproduced below, and you'll note ...

Psychopaths Aren't the Best Hedge Fund Managers After All

Pretty much everyone agrees investing, whether it's your own money or a company's, is wise. And hiring someone to manage that investment portfolio could get you the most bang for your buck. So, who to choose? Probably someone who would do whatever it took — no matter how many friends they'd lose ...

Psychopaths Aren't the Best Hedge Fund Managers After All

Pretty much everyone agrees investing, whether it's your own money or a company's, is wise. And hiring someone to manage that investment portfolio could get you the most bang for your buck. So, who to chose? Probably someone who would do whatever it took — no matter how many friends they'd lose or ...

A Giant Cave on the Moon Could Host Lunar Settlers

Turn-of-the-century science fiction posited the existence of aliens living deep beneath the surface of the moon. Someday, those subterranean creatures could very well be us. New data from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has uncovered a 30-mile-long tunnel under the moon's surface, likely the ...

Dogs Attempt To Communicate With Us Through Facial Expressions

Hey dog owners, you're not imagining it: Researchers think your pooch may be trying to say something with a pout or pleading eyes. Everyone who lives with dogs may be rolling their eyes right about now and saying "Of course Boopsie/Rex/Potato is smiling/frowning/expressing wide-eyed existential ...

Albatross Teaches Drones the Art of Marathon Flights

We've seen drones modeled after geckos, insects and if you've watched Black Mirror there's no way you can forget the massive bee drone swarms. Now, scientists are looking to one of nature's best fliers, the albatross, for tips to help drones fly longer distances. The albatross is one of the ...

To Find Nectar, Bees Follow Blue Halos

Subtle halos on flowers function as bright blue landing pads for bees. Tiny ridges on flowers, visible only at the nanoscale, serve to reflect blue and ultraviolet light that draws in pollinators. To bees, it appears as a ring around the flower's center, and lets them and other insects immediately ...

The AI That Dominated Humans in Go Is Already Obsolete

Remember AlphaGo? You know, the artificial intelligence that in 2016 soundly defeated the finest players humanity could muster in the ancient Chinese strategy game of Go; thus forcing us to relinquish the last vestige of board game superiority flesh-and-blood held over machines? Remember that? Well, ...

Scientist finally figures out why holes feel larger with your tongue than with your finger.

For almost 30 years, scientists have known about the illusion that makes small holes seem larger when felt with the tongue rather than with the fingers . Since that time, the reason for this illusion remained mysterious... until now! This scientist used a series of experiments involving, tongues, ...

Is Parkinson's A Prion Disease?

The Journal of Neuroscience recently featured a debate over the hypothesis that Parkinson's disease is, at least in some cases, caused by a prion-like mechanism - misfolded proteins that spread from neuron to neuron. A prion is a protein that has taken on an abnormal shape and that can spread itself ...

Fatty Tissues Preserved In Fossil for 48 Million Years

It really is true: fat hangs around a long time whether you want it to or not. Okay, so we're not talking about stubborn love handles and saddlebags, but researchers have confirmed that fatty tissues were still identifiable in the partial fossil of a 48-million-year-old bird. The new research ...

How Volcanoes Starved Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt was the most powerful civilization in the world for a time. The monuments built by laborers to honor pharaohs stand to this day, testament to the vast resources at their command. But the architectural excess hid a crippling weakness. Egypt sits in the middle of a vast desert. To ...

Defibrillator Drones Aim to Respond in 911 Calls

Delivery drones carrying defibrillators could begin swooping in to save American victims of cardiac arrest starting in 2018. A new partnership between a delivery drone startup and an emergency medical services provider aims to dispatch defibrillator drones ahead of ambulances in response to 911 ...

In Makira, Flying Fox Teeth Are Currency...And That Could Save the Species

On the island of Makira, hunters use the teeth of giant bats known as flying foxes as currency. Now, perhaps paradoxically, researchers suggest this practice could help save these bats from potential extinction. The giant tropical fruit bats known as flying foxes are the largest bats in the world. ...

Even Einstein Doubted His Own Gravitational Waves

Even before LIGO published its fifth detection this week, most modern scientists had already accepted gravitational waves as an observable manifestation of Einstein's general relativity. But that hasn't always been the case. As recently as the 1970s, scientists weren't sure gravitational waves were ...

Gravitational Waves Show How Fast The Universe is Expanding

The first gravitational wave observed from a neutron star merger offers the potential for a whole raft of new discoveries. Among them is a more precise measurement of the Hubble constant, which captures how fast our universe is expanding. Ever since the Big Bang, everything in the universe has been ...

Astronomers Tally All the Gold in Our Galaxy

Before "he went to Jared," two neutron stars collided. That's what scientists learned from studying the debris fallout after a cosmic explosion called a kilonova — 1,000 times brighter than a standard nova — which appeared, and was witnessed by astronomers, in earthly skies Aug. 17. For decades, ...

Heads Up! A Chinese Space Station Will Plummet to Earth Within Months

When you go outside you may expect rain to occasionally fall from the sky, maybe even excrement from our flying friends — but a rogue space station? As we learned from Sir Isaac Newton, What goes up must come down,' and China's Tiangong-1 space station is coming down fast. The space station will ...

California Wants to Take Human Training Wheels Off Autonomous Vehicles

You've read about self-driving cars cruising around California as companies try to prove and perfect their tech. A human sits in each car, but not because they want to joyride: it's the law. But that could change. Last week, California lawmakers proposed legislation that would make it legal for ...

Dawn of an Era: Astronomers Hear and See Cosmic Collision

For hundreds of millions of years, two city-sized stars in a galaxy not-so-far away circled each other in a fatal dance. Their dimensions were diminutive, but each outweighed our sun. They were neutron stars — the collapsed cores left behind after giant stars explode into supernovas. Closer and ...

A Parade of Scientific Mice

Recently I was reading a neuroscience paper and was struck by the cuteness of the two mice that formed part of Figure 1: So I decided to look further and collect a montage of scientific mice. All of these drawings are taken from peer-reviewed scientific papers. As you can see, the styles vary ...

An Autumn Bounty of Citizen Science

Season Spotter Birds and monarchs are migrating and leaves are changing color. Unfortunately, hurricanes are forming and flu season is here too. Fall is in full swing! This autumn, be a part of documenting the changes in your neighborhood. We've rounded up citizen science projects perfect for the ...

Is Parkinson's A Prion Disease?

The Journal of Neuroscience recently featured a debate over the hypothesis that Parkinson's disease is, at least in some cases, caused by prions - misfolded proteins that spread from neuron to neuron. A prion is a protein that has taken on an abnormal shape and that can spread itself by making ...