Discovery

NOAA Forecasts Mild Atlantic Hurric...

NOAA Forecasts Mild Atlantic Hurricane Season

The Atlantic is likely to see fewer-than-average named storms and hurricanes -- and possibly no major hurricanes this year.
Fighter Jet Captures 'Fire Clouds' ...

Fighter Jet Captures 'Fire Clouds' Over California

Wildfires raging over northern California have created huge pyrocumulus clouds.
Massive Cave Crystals Get Their Clo...

Massive Cave Crystals Get Their Close-Up: Photos

Giant gypsum crystals -- some of which are in excess of 30 feet long and half a million years old -- are found deep within the Naica mine in Chihuahua, Mexico and are renowned for their spectacular beauty.
Forests See New Fire and Pest Threa...

Forests See New Fire and Pest Threats From Warming

Forests are increasingly endangered by problems such as massive wildfires and outbreaks of destructive pests, which are intensifying as the result of climate change. Continue reading ?
Two Hurricanes Sandwich US This Wee...

Two Hurricanes Sandwich US This Week

Hurricanes Iselle and Bertha threaten the United States this week.
Brilliant Blue Arctic 'Melt Ponds' ...

Brilliant Blue Arctic 'Melt Ponds' Captured in Photos

New images from NASA's Earth Observatory reveal the turquoise melt ponds in the Arctic that form every summer.

Yahoo Science

Spacecraft Rosetta catches up to co...

Spacecraft Rosetta catches up to comet after 10-year chase

A handout image of an artist's impression, not to scale, of the Rosetta orbiter deploying the Philae lander to comet 67P/Churyumov-GerasimenkoBy Maria Sheahan FRANKFURT (Reuters) - European spacecraft Rosetta became the first ever to catch up with a comet on Wednesday, a landmark stage in a decade-long space mission that scientists hope will help unlock some of the secrets of the solar system. Rosetta, launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) in 2004, will accompany comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on its trip around the sun and land a probe on it later this year in an unprecedented maneuver. Scientists are now on a tight schedule to learn enough about the comet using data from Rosetta to safely land the spacecraft's probe on it in November. "We know what the comet's shape is.


Scientists retract narcolepsy study...

Scientists retract narcolepsy study linked to GSK vaccine

By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters - Scientists who believed they had started to decipher links between a GlaxoSmithKline H1N1 pandemic flu vaccine and the sleep disorder narcolepsy have retracted a study after saying they cannot replicate their findings. The paper, originally published in the journal Science Translational Medicine in December 2013, suggested narcolepsy can sometimes be triggered by a scientific phenomenon known as "molecular mimicry," offering a possible explanation for its link to GSK's "swine flu" vaccine, Pandemrix. The results appeared to show that the debilitating disorder, characterized by sudden sleepiness and muscle weakness, could be set off by an immune response to a portion of a protein from the H1N1 flu virus that is very similar to a region of a protein called hypocretin, which is key to narcolepsy. GSK, which has been funding Mignot's research into links between the vaccine and narcolepsy, said in a statement it believed "the original scientific hypothesis remains a valid one that needs to be further explored".
Robotic helpers? Scientists tout ch...

Robotic helpers? Scientists tout cheap robot that assembles itself

By Richard Valdmanis BOSTON (Reuters) - Scientists say they have developed a low-cost robot prototype made from paper and children's trinkets that can assemble itself and perform a task without human help. The technology could eventually lead to affordable 'robotic helpers' for use in everything from household chores to exploring space, according to the team of Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers who developed it. ...
Drone test flights start in NY for ...

Drone test flights start in NY for agricultural research: FAA

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The fifth of six U.S. test sites chosen to perform research on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drones, has started operations in Rome, New York, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said on Thursday. The main focus of the New York site will be on evaluating methods for scouting agricultural fields using different types of sensors, research that is expected to enhance current ways of monitoring crops. ...
Butt batteries: Scientists store en...

Butt batteries: Scientists store energy in used cigarette filters

An ash tray with cigarette butts is pictured in HinzenbachScientists in South Korea say they have found a way of converting used cigarette butts into a material capable of storing energy that could help power everything from mobile phones to electric cars. In a study published on Tuesday in the journal Nanotechnology, researchers from Seoul National University outlined how they transformed the used filters, which are composed mainly of cellulose acetate fibers and are considered toxic and a risk to the environment when discarded. "Our study has shown that used cigarette filters can be transformed into a high-performing carbon-based material using a simple one-step process, which simultaneously offers a green solution to meeting the energy demands of society," said professor and study co-author Jongheop Yi. According to anti-smoking campaigners Americans for Non-smokers? Rights, cigarette butts are the most commonly discarded item worldwide, contributing more than 765,000 tonnes of waste annually.


Pacific Storm Julio Unleashes Power...

Pacific Storm Julio Unleashes Powerful 'Dark Lightning' Flash

Pacific Storm Julio Unleashes Powerful 'Dark Lightning' FlashBefore the Hawaii-bound storm Julio strengthened into a hurricane, a NASA satellite spotted a high-energy flash of "dark lightning" coming from the swirling clouds. NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is designed to detect the brightest explosions in the universe ? gamma-rays emitted from sources like supermassive black holes or stars that go supernova. On Monday (Aug. 4) at 4:19 a.m. EDT (0819 GMT), when Julio was still a fledgling tropical storm hundreds of miles off the coast of Mexico, Fermi witnessed what's known as a terrestrial gamma-ray flash (TGF) above the clouds, according to NASA. "As far as I know, a TGF from a tropical storm has never been reported before," Michael Briggs, a member of the team in charge of Fermi's Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GMB) at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, said in a statement from NASA.


Physorg.com

Optalysys will launch prototype opt...

Optalysys will launch prototype optical processor

UK-based startup Optalysys is moving ahead to deliver exascale levels of processing power on a standard-sized desktop computer within the next few years, reported HPCwire earlier this week. The company itself announced on August 1 that it is "only months away from launching a prototype optical processor with the potential to deliver exascale levels of processing power on a standard-sized desktop computer." The company will demo its prototype, which meets NASA Technology Readiness Level 4, in January next year. Though the January date represents only a proof-of-concept stage, the processor is expected to run at over 340 gigaFLOPS , which will enable it to analyze large data sets, and produce complex model simulations in a laboratory environment. Engadget commented that those numbers were not bad for a proof of concept. HPCwire pointed at the potential significance of this work in its article's headline, "IsThis the Exascale Breakthrough We've Been Waiting For?" Optalysys' technology uses light for compute-intensive mathematical functions at speeds that exceed what can be achieved with electronics, at a fraction of the cost and power consumption.
NASA Mars test called success despi...

NASA Mars test called success despite torn chute

Sending heavier vehicles and, eventually, humans to Mars requires first testing new technologies to see if they actually work.
Judge rejects Silicon Valley anti-p...

Judge rejects Silicon Valley anti-poaching settlement

A federal judge Friday rejected a plan to compensate employees affected by an "anti-poaching" agreement involving Silicon Valley tech giants Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe.
Canada launches mission to map, cla...

Canada launches mission to map, claim North Pole

A scientific mission to map the seabed surrounding the North Pole got underway Friday amid Canada's push to claim the area and surrounding Arctic waters ahead of Russia and others.
Water's reaction with metal oxides ...

Water's reaction with metal oxides opens doors for researchers

A multi-institutional team has resolved a long-unanswered question about how two of the world's most common substances interact.
New Nano3 microscope will allow hig...

New Nano3 microscope will allow high-resolution look inside cells

The University of California, San Diego's Nanofabrication Cleanroom Facility (Nano3) is the first institution to obtain a novel FEI Scios dual-beam microscope, with an adaptation for use at cryogenic temperatures. The new microscope will enable research among a highly diverse user base, ranging from materials science to structural and molecular biology.

PBS

Brushes with Death

Brushes with Death

Dorothy Roseman describes her close encounters with vaccine-preventable diseases.
Patterns in Nature?s Networks

Patterns in Nature?s Networks

Science shows it's a small world after all?and nature's networks follow a similar pattern.
Vaccines?Calling the Shots

Vaccines?Calling the Shots

Examine the science behind vaccinations, the return of preventable diseases, and the risks of opting out.
Knotty Thrills

Knotty Thrills

Three physicists untie a 150-year-old tangle of a puzzle.
Sculpting a Young Artist

Sculpting a Young Artist

A city-wide competition shaped the career of the architect behind Florence's famous dome.
Autopsying a Roman Catacomb

Autopsying a Roman Catacomb

Did a lethal plague kill thousands in ancient Rome? Centuries-old DNA may hold the answer.

Scientific American

Deadly Algae Are Everywhere, Thanks...

Deadly Algae Are Everywhere, Thanks to Agriculture

Get used to algae blooms, they may be coming to a body of water near you

-- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
Hope and Fear?s Anti?Sweet Spot Hel...

Hope and Fear?s Anti?Sweet Spot Help Explain the Experience of Feeling Riveted [Excerpt]

In a new book author Jim Davies explains the evolutionary underpinnings of the experiences and items that capture our interest and affect our choices

-- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
The Best Shark Biologists and Conse...

The Best Shark Biologists and Conservationists to Follow During Shark Week

These researchers and educators can teach you more about sharks as the fascinating, ecologically important and threatened multiple species that they are

-- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
Foresters Now Monitoring Tree Popul...

Foresters Now Monitoring Tree Populations from Space [Slide Show]

Scientists know surprisingly little about what is growing in our forests. New techniques for analyzing satellite data are about to change that

-- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
Particle Measurement Sidesteps the ...

Particle Measurement Sidesteps the Uncertainty Principle

A novel way of measuring a photon’s location allows physicists to measure its momentum, too—a feat once thought impossible  

-- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
Massive Dolphin Die-Off Eludes Fina...

Massive Dolphin Die-Off Eludes Final Explanation

The morbillivirus is the prime suspect in the unprecedented and ongoing die-offs, but other culprits are possible

-- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

Newscientist

I won the Nobel by experimenting on...

I won the Nobel by experimenting on myself

Barry Marshall experimented on himself to prove that H. pylori causes stomach ulcers and he won a Nobel prize. But what if the bug has good side?






Traffic light hackers could cause j...

Traffic light hackers could cause jams across the US

Researchers have hacked traffic lights across a Michigan city, and they warn that the weakness they found exists at 100,000 intersections in the country






Today on New Scientist

Today on New Scientist

All the latest on newscientist.com: why we need vitamin D more than ever, humans in China 100,000 years ago, US tornado onslaughts, paper planes and more






Limitless beauty of science in Eure...

Limitless beauty of science in Eureka prize finalists

The shortlist of images for the 2014 New Scientist Eureka Prize for Science Photography journey from the deep sea to inner space to reveal stunning worlds






Sleep tight? Not a chance if you're...

Sleep tight? Not a chance if you're in space

The most comprehensive astronaut sleep study to date found that astronauts' sleep debt starts well before blast off, and sleeping pills might not help






Ebola is a 'global emergency' as bo...

Ebola is a 'global emergency' as bodies litter streets

As the number of cases continues to rise the Liberian president has called for "extraordinary measures for the very survival of our state"

NY times.com Science

Rudderless Craft to Get Glimpse of ...

Rudderless Craft to Get Glimpse of Home Before Sinking Into Space?s Depths

The International Sun-Earth Explorer-3 will pass about 9,700 miles from the surface of the moon at 2:16 p.m. Eastern time Sunday.






U.N. Agency Calls Ebola Outbreak an...

U.N. Agency Calls Ebola Outbreak an International Health Emergency

The United Nations health agency said the outbreak warranted extraordinary measures but stopped short of imposing a travel ban.






Gray Matter: How Math Got Its ?Nobe...

Gray Matter: How Math Got Its ?Nobel?

The true story behind the field?s most prestigious award.






IBM Develops a New Chip That Functi...

IBM Develops a New Chip That Functions Like a Brain

The processor, named TrueNorth, may eventually excel at calculations that stump today?s supercomputers.






Hawaii Feels Iselle?s Force, and An...

Hawaii Feels Iselle?s Force, and Another Storm Looms

Storm surges and high winds from Tropical Storm Iselle hit the easternmost island of Hawaii on Thursday, and Hurricane Julio could land over the weekend.






Look: Staking Out the Great White S...

Look: Staking Out the Great White Shark

A rare photograph of a nighttime breach.

Science Daily

Photo editing algorithm changes wea...

Photo editing algorithm changes weather, seasons automatically in your shots

A computer algorithm enables users to instantly change the weather, time of day, season, or other features in outdoor photos with simple text commands. Machine learning and a clever database make it possible.
Breakthroughs made in ovarian cance...

Breakthroughs made in ovarian cancer research

New clues to early detection and personalized treatment of ovarian cancer have been made by researchers. Ovarian cancer is currently one of the most difficult cancers to diagnose early due to the lack of symptoms that are unique to the illness. Successful treatment is difficult at this late stage, resulting in high mortality rates.
Violent solar system history uncove...

Violent solar system history uncovered by WA meteorite

Planetary scientists have shed some light on the bombardment history of our solar system by studying a unique volcanic meteorite recovered in Western Australia. Captured on camera seven years ago falling on the WA side of the Nullarbor Plain, the Bunburra Rockhole Meterorite has unique characteristics that suggest it came from a large asteroid that has never before been identified.
How we form habits, change existing...

How we form habits, change existing ones

About 40 percent of people's daily activities are performed each day in almost the same situations, studies show. Habits emerge through associative learning. 'We find patterns of behavior that allow us to reach goals. We repeat what works, and when actions are repeated in a stable context, we form associations between cues and response,' a researcher explains.
Northern Pacific's tropical anoxic ...

Northern Pacific's tropical anoxic zone might shrink from climate change

A commonly held belief that global warming will diminish oxygen concentrations in the ocean looks like it may not be entirely true. According to new research, just the opposite is likely the case in the eastern tropical northern Pacific, with its anoxic zone expected to shrink in coming decades because of climate change.
Mystery of brain cell growth unrave...

Mystery of brain cell growth unraveled by scientists

Scientists have discovered how a single protein can exert both a push and a pull force to nudge a neuron in the desired direction, helping neurons navigate to their assigned places in the developing brain.

Eureka Alert

Expecting to teach enhances learnin...

Expecting to teach enhances learning, recall

(Washington University in St. Louis) People learn better and recall more when given the impression that they will soon have to teach newly acquired material to someone else, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis.
Study measures steep coastal costs ...

Study measures steep coastal costs of China's GDP growth

(Brown University) Economic reforms declared in 1978 led to a surge of growth in China, but resulting increases in human impact activities are seriously degrading the nation's coastal ecosystems, according to a newly published analysis of economic and environmental data. Some activities may have reached a turning point, but others will need policy changes, the authors project.
What does 'diversity' mean to you? ...

What does 'diversity' mean to you? The answer may depend on your race

(Society for Personality and Social Psychology) Researchers from the University of California at Irvine, the University of Virginia, and the University of California at Los Angeles collaborated to study how whites, Asian-Americans, and African-Americans evaluate diversity. The research included three studies, and participants were asked to rate the diversity of various groups of people that were presented as a team at work.
LSUHSC awarded $5.6 million NCI gra...

LSUHSC awarded $5.6 million NCI grant to save lives and boost economy

(Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center) LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans has been awarded a $5.6 million grant over five years to build a regional cancer clinical trials network. Open to all patients, the focus of the Gulf South Minority/Underserved NCI Community Oncology Research Program is minority and underserved patients who die from cancer at higher rates. This comprehensive cancer-management network of physicians, nurses and researchers from major teaching and private medical institutions will bring patients the latest investigational treatments.
Boston Marathon bombing caregivers ...

Boston Marathon bombing caregivers still grappling with tragedy one year later

(The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare) Nearly a year after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, hospital staff, first responders and medical volunteers who cared for the injured and dying were still struggling to put the experience behind them, according to a Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare report that describes eight confidential sessions held to help caregivers process their emotions and feelings in the aftermath of this horrific event.
Stock prices of companies that use ...

Stock prices of companies that use the same underwriter tend to move together

(Rice University) The stock prices of companies that use the same lead underwriter during their equity offerings tend to move together, according to a new study by financial economics experts at Rice University and the University of Alabama.

Forteantimes

Fri 8 Aug 2014 - Daily round-up of ...

Fri 8 Aug 2014 - Daily round-up of the world's weird news

Man fined for pretending to be ghost, jogger runs into baseball cap wearing skeleton in park, zonkey born in Crimea zoo
Thur 7 Aug 2014 - Daily round-up of...

Thur 7 Aug 2014 - Daily round-up of the world's weird news

Rapper Johnson cut off penis because he is a god, panda stressed out by dancing grannies, man carried out sex act on platform of miniature railway
Mon 4 Aug 2014 - Daily round-up of ...

Mon 4 Aug 2014 - Daily round-up of the world's weird news

Mysterious lake appears in Tunisian desert, Slenderman stabbing girl talks to unicorns, woman finds IKEA bags full of skeletons
Tue 29 July 2014 - Daily round-up o...

Tue 29 July 2014 - Daily round-up of the world's weird news

Demon sends texts to exorcist, giant fart machine aimed at France, lucky koala on 55-mile ride and Indian professor menaced by semen-sucking spirits
Thu 31 July 2014 - Daily round-up o...

Thu 31 July 2014 - Daily round-up of the world's weird news

UKIP infiltrated by Glastonbury occultists, Argos offers Slenderman playsuit, great popsicle hold-up, plus "man killed to death"
Fri 25 July 2014 - Daily round-up o...

Fri 25 July 2014 - Daily round-up of the world's weird news

Police investigate creepy doorstep dolls, doctors remove 232 teeth from boy's mouth, Jesus takes the wheel and runs over motorcyclist

Howstuffworks

The Most Embarrassing Moments in th...

The Most Embarrassing Moments in the History of Science

What? Scientists get things wrong? We know. It?s shocking to hear, but science isn?t always an exact science. Mistakes do happen -- and they often lead to great scientific discoveries. So, grab your safety glasses and see if you can identify the most embarrassing scientific moments ever.
10 Completely False ?Facts? Everyon...

10 Completely False ?Facts? Everyone Knows

The blood in your veins is blue. Glass is a slow-moving liquid. If you touch a baby bird, its mother will abandon it. Not so fast ?- if you learned any of those "facts" in school, what you learned was wrong.
Flight Pictures

Flight Pictures

Flight pictures show photos from aviation history. Take a look at pictures of the most important aircraft in history.
How the Electoral College Works

How the Electoral College Works

The Electoral College is not an Ivy League school. Rather, it's a process for selecting the next U.S. president that actually carries more weight than the popular vote. Why is it there and should it be continued?
What is a Nor'easter?

What is a Nor'easter?

Nor'easters typically affect the east coast of the United States during the winter season. What exactly are Nor'easters, though, and how do they form. Find out the answer to this question in this article from HowStuffWorks.

Unexplained-mysteries

Scientists find microbes living in ...

Scientists find microbes living in oil

The discovery could mean that there is a chance of finding life on other worlds such as Titan. Discovered in Trinidad's Pitch Lake, the largest natura...
'Green beam' UFO sighted over Hinck...

'Green beam' UFO sighted over Hinckley

Two independent witnesses reported seeing a strange beam of light descending from the heavens. The first witness, 61-year-old Norman Willis, had been ...
Man is fined for pretending to be a...

Man is fined for pretending to be a ghost

A man in Southsea, Hampshire was ordered to pay £35 for running around a cemetery shouting 'Woooooo!' The 24-year-old had been out drinking with his f...
Origami robot can fold itself and w...

Origami robot can fold itself and walk away

Microrobotics engineers have built a robot that is both mobile and capable of folding itself in to shape. Developed at Harvard University, the real-li...
Life beyond Earth 'inevitable' clai...

Life beyond Earth 'inevitable' claims expert

Dr Sara Seager believes that astronomers are standing on a 'great threshold' of space exploration. Dr Seager, who is a Professor of Planetary Science ...
Russian man orders ducks to attenti...

Russian man orders ducks to attention

An amazing video showing a man with an unusual skill for assembling ducks has gone viral this week. In the video the man, who emerges from a barn to f...

PopSci

Kickstart A Sci-Fi Theater Festival

Kickstart A Sci-Fi Theater Festival

Sci-Fest poster: Image of robot hand holding robot head
Alas, Poor Yorickbot
Sci-Fest hopes to bring original science fiction one-act plays to the Los Angeles stage.
Courtesy David Dean Bottrell

Science fiction is defined by pushing boundaries--of inner and outer space, as well as time and imagination?which is what makes it great for the theater, according to actor David Dean Bottrell. ?Stage is such a unique medium,? he states in email, ?because the audience is a participant in the proceedings.?

Bottrell aims to bring several fantastic stories to a real-time audience this spring in Los Angeles, at a festival of science fiction one-act plays called Sci-Fest.

Hundreds of supporters have pledged $72,895 (at this writing) toward Sci-Fest's ultimate goal of raising $80,000 on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter.

By professional theatrical standards it's a modest budget, with most of the money allocated to renting a theater and creating the sets, lighting, special effects, and costumes. ?To our knowledge, a sci-fi short play festival has never been done before,? states Bottrell. ?It just seemed like a challenge worth taking.?

In response to online calls for entries, the fest received over 400 submissions from playwrights around the world, according to Bottrell. The final line-up includes seven original scripts, plus an adaptation of Ursula K. Le Guin's short fiction ?The Wife's Story,? and a revival of Ray Bradbury's ?Kaleidoscope,? about a routine mission gone very wrong for seven astronauts stranded in space. Bottrell notes that Bradbury got there about 50 years before 2013's Oscar-nominated ?Gravity.?

According to Sci-Fest's online materials, over a dozen actors with credits from science fiction and horror TV shows will appear in the productions. L. Scott Caldwell, a Tony-award winning actor best known to genre fans as Rose from ?Lost,? will take the lead in the Le Guin play. Others include Julie McNiven, who played Anna in ?Supernatural?; and Armin Shimerman, who played Quark in ?Star Trek: Deep Space Nine? and Principal Snyder in ?Buffy the Vampire Slayer.? So will Dean Haglund, an actor best known as conspiracy theory enthusiast Langly in "The X-Files,? who is also listed on the fest's advisory board, along with genre icons like Nichelle Nichols and Wil Wheaton, and Jason Weisberger, the publisher of mega-blog BoingBoing.

Science fiction on stage isn't actually such a crazy undertaking: TV and movie classics like ?The Twilight Zone,? ?The X-Files,? and ?Rosemary's Baby,? grab and hold our attention (sometimes over decades of re-viewing) thanks to their big ideas and great characters, realized via good writing, directing, and acting, and less because of flashy special effects. So do recent cult science fiction film hits like ?Pi,? ?Primer,? and ?Moon.?

More pragmatically, with thousands of people turning out for the annual ComicCon geekfests around the country, including many in the costumes of their favorite science fiction, fantasy, horror, anime, and video game characters, it's possible that Sci-Fest is catching a wave. ?We think the growth potential for this festival is huge,? says Bottrell. ?We hope that this is the first of many Sci-Fests to come.?

The fest's Kickstarter campaign ends this Friday, February 28.

    
Busted: International Narwhal Tusk ...

Busted: International Narwhal Tusk Smuggling Ring

Narwhals
Wikimedia Commons, National Institute of Standards and Technology

Narwhals are just a bit safer today. A multiyear investigation has resulted in arrests connected with illegal transporting of the whale tusks across international borders. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration?s Office of Law Enforcement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Environment Canada worked together to bring down the smuggling ring.

The male narwhal's iconic tusk, which is a canine tooth that extends from the left side of the upper jaw and through the lip, makes the species a target of ivory hunters. On the black market, narwhal tusks can be worth thousands of dollars each, depending on size and quality. The narwhal population is near threatened status due to the whales' inability to respond quickly to changing environments and continued hunting. 

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, dealer Gregory Logan of Alberta, Canada, sold more than 400 narwhal tusks to buyers across the U.S. between 2003 and 2010. He has active arrest warrants in the United States in connection with the case, which has so far seen the arrests of three people accused of illegal trafficking of tusks from Canada to the United States. Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, it is illegal to transport, purchase, sell, or export (or offer to do so) any marine mammal or marine mammal product, unless the intention is public display, scientific research, or enhancing the survival of a species.

[NOAA Fisheries

    
Rising Home Prices Linked To More B...

Rising Home Prices Linked To More Babies

Gregoryj77 via Wikimedia Commons

As housing prices rise, non-owners (e.g. renters) tend to have fewer kids. A new study found that for every $10,000 rise in house prices, the fertility rate of non-owners subsequently drops by 2.4 percent on average, in urban areas throughout the U.S. (Now I have an excuse the next time my parents make insinuations about "grandkids.")

Perhaps unexpectedly, though, the opposite was seen with homeowners, whose fertility goes up with home prices. For every $10,000 increase in housing prices from 1997 to 2006, owners' fertility rates rose on average 5 percent. This is partially explained by the rising equity of the home; though home equity is basically illiquid, one can extract equity from it via loans, like a second mortgage, to help pay for raising a child, the authors write.

The study suggests that "house prices are a relevant factor in a couple's decision to have a baby," which is relatively intuitive, but doesn't appear to have been shown this clearly before. While much more research has examined the link between employment rate and fertility, this research shows there is an even stronger correlation between housing prices and fertility. 

"Rising home values have a negative impact on [non-owner's] birth rates because they represent, on average, the largest component of the cost of raising a child: larger than food, child care, or education," writes Laurent Belsie at the National Bureau of Economic Research. The study was published this month in the Journal of Public Economics. 

    
The Strange Beauty Of Bioluminescen...

The Strange Beauty Of Bioluminescent Fish

Lantern-mouth Angler
Henry Compton

David McKee, a retired biology professor from Texas A&M University, never got the chance to talk to Henry Compton about his art. Compton, an eccentric marine biologist and local fishing pier manager, passed away the week the two men were supposed to meet. After Compton's death, two cardboard boxes of his belongings ended up in the garage of his sister-in-law, Helen Compton, where they sat for about six months until she gave McKee a call?Helen had organized the unsuccessful meeting, and knew of McKee's interest in Compton's art. 

Those cardboard boxes contained paintings, slides, and texts about bioluminescent fish, which became the focus of McKee's new book, Fire in the Sea. 

"My first impression was 'wow,'" McKee says. "I was already familiar with Compton, and I was thinking, 'here we go again.'" 

The book will be published February 26, 2014.
Fire in the Sea, published by Texas A&M University Press

In his earlier years, Compton worked for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, where he went on some of the first Gulf of Mexico cruises to collect deep sea life from Texas waters. From there, Compton would photograph the specimens, and then paint them into life-like environments. He wrote taxonomical descriptions as well as fanciful and strange narratives to accompany each painting.

"Back in the 1960s, we knew very little about what was in the Gulf of Mexico down at that depth, about a mile below the surface," McKee says. "In addition to the mythical types of stories he tells about the fish, there's the science story, about early deep sea research that was going on."

These paintings and texts eventually ended up in the two boxes that made their way to McKee. Though Compton was a self-taught artist, and perhaps never realized his own artistic talent as such, McKee saw his careful preservation and organization of the art and texts as a clue that he hoped one day to publish the collection.

"I feel like I've given birth, here," Mckee says. "Hank Compton was a borderline genius, and a termendous artist." 

The book, which will be released on Wednesday, includes 59 of these paintings as well as the taxonomy, narratives, and background on the deep sea environment and Compton himself. You can see a sample of these here

    
Nighttime Smartphone Use Can Sap Ne...

Nighttime Smartphone Use Can Sap Next Day's Energy

Sleepy
Charidy / YouTube

Using your smartphone at night might not be the smartest plan. A pair of studies found that people who used the devices after 9 p.m. were more tired and less engaged at work the next day, even when compared to people who looked at other light-emitting screens like TVs and tablets. People who used their phones got less sleep, in part because becoming re-engaged in work used up time that could have been spent sleeping and also made it more difficult to fall asleep, the studies noted. 

The two studies are published in the May issue of Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. They surveyed people from a variety of professions, as noted by Futurity

For the first study, the researchers had 82 upper-level managers complete multiple surveys every day for two weeks. The second study surveyed 161 employees daily in a variety of occupations, including nursing, manufacturing, accounting, and dentistry.

In both cases, those who used smartphones reported feeling less focused and motivated the next day. The results further the "ego-depletion theory" that people have finite levels of self-control to draw from. "The benefit of smartphone use may? be offset by the inability of employees to fully recover from work activities while away from the office,? the scientists wrote. 

There are some ways to minimize problems created by too little sleep, according to the study: "Recent research suggests that the negative effects of insufficient sleep may be mitigated by the strategic use of naps, stimulants (e.g., caffeine), reshuffling important tasks to other people, scheduling breaks, and working in teams."  

Or, just don't look at your phone late at night. Although that's easier said than done.

For more about the latest advances in sleep science and how to get better zzz's, check out Popular Science's March 2014 issue on sleep. 

    
Scientists Make Largest Quark, Solv...

Scientists Make Largest Quark, Solving A 20-Year Mystery

Fermilab
Fermilab, Reidar Hahn

Top quarks are the heaviest of subatomic particles, and are prime components of all matter--everything from mayonnaise to your big toe. But while they are in virtually everything, they are impossible to isolate from matter under ordinary circumstances. To study them, you need to "make" them by running particles into each other at ultra-high speeds, billions or trillions of times. 

After working at it for nearly 20 years, scientists at the Tevatron particle accelerator at Fermilab have discovered the last as-yet-unproven way of making this quark--and it only took 500 trillion particle collisions to do it. "It's a very rare process... and it's very exciting" to finally witness it, Fermilab physicist Dmitri Denisov told Popular Science.

Under the Standard Model, the theory by which these particles are understood, there should be three ways of producing quarks. The first two had been shown in 1995 and 2008. In the first instance, top quarks were produced by strong nuclear force, by slamming a proton and anti-proton into each other. But in the 2008, and now the 2014 discovery, top quarks were produced in a rare event, via weak nuclear force. The finding helps reinforce the Standard Model, which predicts that quarks can be made by exploiting both types of forces, Denisov said. "It's important that all forces in nature, strong and weak, equally produce the top quark." 

"My prediction is that at some point, knowing how to make this particle will also be useful for something 'next step,' " like perhaps energy production, Denisov speculated. 

The actual particle collisions that made the quark took place prior to Tevatron's closure in 2011, but were only uncovered and announced in a statement today (Feb. 24) after years of analyzing massive amounts of data produced by the accelerator.

    

Science News.org

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