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Once termites are finished solving our fuel problems, ants can help us with traffic. Iain Couzin, a mathematical biologist at Princeton and Oxford, studies army ants in Panama, trying to deduce the simple rules that allow millions of individuals to move smoothly and efficiently. He hopes these rules may someday be used to alleviate traffic congestion for humans.
Clck this link to see what happens when one of those tiny, high mpg cars hits a cement wall a 70 mph.
Seems like only yesterday the government was forking over billions of dollars to sequence the human genome. Today, anybody can have their personal DNA sequenced for about $1,000. Previously, doctors would test a patient’s DNA only for a few specific genes that might be related to their condition. Now, perfectly healthy people can have their entire DNA tested (well, about 1/3,000th of it, anyway), to look for all known genetic conditions.
In mid-November, fishermen in Cambodia captured a catfish 8 feet long and weighing 420 pounds. Giant catfish used to be common in Indochina, but today only a few hundred remain. After measuring the fish, its captors let it go. Which seems only sensible – you don’t want a 400-pound fish mad at you.
Many environmentally friendly buildings use solar panels to generate power and large windows for natural light. However, these reflective or transparent materials are deadly to migrating birds which crash into them and die. In Georgia, professor John Wegner has convinced Emory University to cover its new math and science center with netting during the migrating season to protect the birds.
(If scientists don’t blow it up first.)
Farmers in Brazil have traditionally cut down large swaths of rain forest to plant cacao trees – the source of chocolate. But these high-yield plantations ravaged the rain forest, depleted the land, and suffered numerous outbreaks of disease. A new method of planting, called cabruca, plants cacao trees right inside the rain forest itself. Only a few rain forest tress are cut down – the forest itself remains intact. The forest nourishes the cacao trees and protects them from plantation diseases. And while the amount of chocolate grown in this manner is smaller than can be grown on a plantation, the farmers can make up the difference by charging a higher price for “environmentally friendly chocolate.”
Courtesy The Hubble spacecraftScientists in New Mexico have recently discovered a new type of white dwarf in our galaxy. White dwarfs are essentially dying stars - larger stars, when they run out of fuel, collapse on themselves to become black holes or neutron stars, but smaller stars (like our sun) generally become white dwarfs, and continue to radiate heat for billions of years. Most white dwarfs have hydrogen or helium-rich atmospheres, but the recently discovered stars have carbon-rich atmospheres. The discovery may change our understanding of the evolution and death of stars.
Exciting news, certainly, but these "new" stars could never replace my all time favorite white dwarf. Seriously.
A European study finds that men score lower on a general intelligence test after being shown a picture of a blonde woman. The researchers say the men were responding to social stereotypes that portray blondes as less intelligent. My own field research has found that attractive women of any hair color will reduce a man to a babbling idiot.