My Picks From ScienceDaily

‘Mitochondrial Eve’ Research: Humanity Was Genetically Divided For 100,000 Years:

The human race was divided into two separate groups within Africa for as much as half of its existence, says a Tel Aviv University mathematician. Climate change, reduction in populations and harsh conditions may have caused and maintained the separation.

Simple Artificial Cell Created From Scratch To Study Cell Complexity:

A team of Penn State researchers has developed a simple artificial cell with which to investigate the organization and function of two of the most basic cell components: the cell membrane and the cytoplasm–the gelatinous fluid that surrounds the structures in living cells. The work could lead to the creation of new drugs that take advantage of properties of cell organization to prevent the development of diseases. The team’s findings will be published later this month in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Crystal (Eye) Ball: Visual System Equipped With ‘Future Seeing Powers’:

Catching a football. Maneuvering through a room full of people. Jumping out of the way when a golfer yells “fore.” Most would agree these seemingly simple actions require us to perceive and quickly respond to a situation. Assistant Professor of Cognitive Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Mark Changizi argues they require something more — our ability to foresee the future.

Weather, Waves And Wireless: Super Strength Signalling:

A new study from the University of Leicester has discovered a particular window of time when mobile signals and radio waves are ‘super strength’ — allowing them to be clearer and travel greater distances, potentially interfering with other systems.

Gravity-defying Bird Beak Mystery Solved: Shorebirds Benefit From Surface Tension:

As Charles Darwin showed nearly 150 years ago, bird beaks are exquisitely adapted to the birds’ feeding strategy. A team of MIT mathematicians and engineers has now explained exactly how some shorebirds use their long, thin beaks to defy gravity and transport food into their mouths.

Climbing As Easy As Walking For Smaller Primates:

Smaller primates expend no more energy climbing than they do walking, Duke University researchers have found. This surprising discovery may explain the evolutionary edge that encouraged the tiny ancestors of modern humans, apes and monkeys to climb into the trees about 65 million years ago and stay there.

Parrot Fossil 55 Million Years Old Discovered In Scandinavia:

Palaeontologists have discovered fossil remains in Scandinavia of parrots dating back 55 million years. Reported May 14 in the journal Palaeontology, the fossils indicate that parrots once flew wild over what is now Norway and Denmark.

Success By Learning: Smallest Predator Recognizes Prey By Its Shape:

The Etruscan shrew (Suncus etruscus) is one of the world’s smallest mammals. It is about four centimetres long and weighs merely two grams. Being a nocturnal animal, it hunts predominantly with its sense of touch. Professor Michael Brecht (Bernstein Center for Computional Neuroscience, Berlin) now reported on the particularities of its hunting behaviour at the international conference “Development and function of somatosensation and pain” at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch, Germany. “As quick as a flash, the Etruscan shrew scans its prey and adapts, when necessary, its hunting strategy,” explained Brecht in his talk. “Thus, no prey escapes.”

Monkey Studies Important For Brain Science:

Studies with non-human primates have made major contributions to our understanding of the brain and will continue to be an important, if small, part of neuroscience research, according to a recent review published in the British medical journal, The Lancet.

Pain Free Without Numbness — Substance Combination With Chili Peppers:

A dentist’s injection typically causes numbness for several hours. This experience could soon be history. Now, Clifford Woolf, professor at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA, and his colleagues have developed a combination of two agents which is able to specifically block pain without producing numbness or motor paralysis. The substance is composed of a normally inactive derivative of the local anesthetic lidocaine, called QX314, and capsaicin, the pain-producing substance in chili peppers.

Culture Affects How Teen Girls See Sexual Harassment:

Teenage girls of all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds still experience sexism and sexual harassment — but cultural factors may control whether they perceive sexism as an environmental problem or as evidence of their own shortcomings.

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