February 26, 2015

How the Mantis Shrimp Packs a Powerful Punch

The miniweight boxing title of the animal world belongs to the mantis shrimp, a cigar-sized crustacean with front claws that can deliver an explosive 60-mile-per-hour punch. The speed of a mantis shrimp’s strike has been compared to that of a bullet leaving the barrel of a gun.

Now, a Duke University study of 80 million years of mantis shrimp evolution reveals how the mantis shrimp does it...

February 25, 2015

Prehistoric Crocodiles Ruled Ancient Peru

(© Aldo Benites-Palomino)

Today, the Amazon River basin is well known for its biodiversity, but the area also has a long history of abundant life. Thanks to an international team of researchers, we now know that thirteen million years ago at least seven different species of crocodile hunted in the swampy waters of what is now northeastern Peru.

The Science of Sloshing: Why Foam is Important

Photo by Piyato via freedigitalphotos.net

Most of us know that carrying a full cup of hot coffee can be precarious and just one wrong move could send a wave of java sloshing over the rim. But have you ever noticed that adding a bit of foam to the top of the coffee makes moving with it easier?

February 23, 2015

Ocean Acidification Threatens Shellfish Supply

Coastal communities in fifteen U.S. states that depend on the $1 billion shellfish industry (primarily oysters and clams) are in trouble. The shellfish supplies in these areas are at risk from the increasing threat of ocean acidification, according to a new study from Oregon State University.

February 19, 2015

Lemurs: Where Will They Go?

The habitat of this brown lemur in Madagascar is likely to shrink by half
before the end of the century due to climate change, finds a Duke University study.
(David Haring, Duke Lemur Center)
Anticipated climate changes are likely to leave a lot of Madagascar's lemurs looking for new places to live. The results of a new study from Duke University show where lemurs may seek refuge and food as temperatures rise and rainfall patterns change across the...

February 18, 2015

Nature’s Medicine Cabinet for Sick Bees

(Leif Richardson)
Around the world, honey bees are in decline and under constant threat from parasites. This ongoing problem threatens fruits, vegetables and other crops that make up much of the food supply for people. However, naturally occurring chemicals found in flowers of certain plants could be just the right prescription for sick bees, according to new research from Dartmouth College.

Read this story

February 12, 2015

Global Preference for Positive, Happy Words

In 1969, two psychologists at the University of Illinois proposed what they called the Pollyanna Hypothesis–the idea that there is a universal human tendency to use positive, happy words more frequently than negative ones. “Humans tend to look on (and talk about) the bright side of life,” they wrote. That speculation has provoked debate ever since.

Now, scientists at the University of Vermont have applied a Big Data approach–using a massive data set of billions of words from actual usage — to support the 1960s theory.

Walk While You Work: Do treadmill desks help?

(Courtesy of Marcolm via freedigitalphotos.net)
Treadmill desks help sedentary office workers get out of their chairs and get moving, but researchers at Oregon State University have found that walking while you work will not automatically rectify an otherwise unhealthy lifestyle.

Tuna Stay Warm with Cold Hearts

(©Monterey Bay Aquarium/Randy Wilder)
The heart of a bluefin tuna keeps pumping during extreme temperature changes that would stop a human heart, according to a joint team of scientists from the University of Manchester and Stanford University.

Pacific bluefin tuna are top predators renowned for their epic migrations across the Pacific Ocean...

February 6, 2015

Dialing in Blood Tests with a Smartphone

(Tassaneewan Laksanasopin, Columbia Engineering)

Researchers at Columbia University have developed a low-cost smartphone accessory that tests for infectious diseases — HIV and syphilis — from a finger prick of blood in only 15 minutes. 

The inexpensive device replicates all of the functions of a lab-based blood test. Furthermore, it does it all with power from any smartphone. With this little gadget, health workers around the world can quickly perform blood tests without sending vials of blood to a lab.

Climate Change Threatens California Pikas

Pikas spend the summer gathering grasses and wildflowers to store for winter food.
When summer temperatures are too high, the pikas can’t forage. (Photo by Chris Ray)
The American pika is a small animal with a big personality that has long delighted hikers and backpackers. Sadly, pikas are disappearing from low-elevation sites in California mountains, and the cause appears to be climate change, according to a new study from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

February 5, 2015

How the Brain Can Control Robotics

(MU News Bureau)
We recently reported on new technology that enables amputees and other disabled people to control robotic arms with their brains

Since then, scientists at the University of Missouri, Columbia have been further investigating how the human brain interacts with such robotic limbs and the findings are fascinating.

Virus DNA in Humans: What’s in Your Genes?

Amanda Mills/CDC

We all carry remnants of DNA from viruses that infected our ancestors millions of years ago. In fact, all mammals have virus DNA in their genes, but the human species has far less, according to a new study. Why? 

Researchers say it's possible that humans were exposed to fewer blood-borne viruses as we evolved to use tools, rather than our teeth for hunting and fighting.