New Scientist: Border collie takes record for biggest vocabulary.
“IN THE age-old war between cats and dogs, canines might just have struck the killer blow. A border collie called Chaser has been taught the names of 1022 items - more than any other animal. She can also categorise them according to function and shape, something children learn to do around the age of 3.” Of course, cats may just disdain our pitiful attempts at quantifying their vocabulary.
The Atlantic: Where Will the Next Economic Boom Come From?
I believe, based on conversations with health professionals, this is because of the lopsided nature of health research funding and the intractability of the AIDS bug. I just did a quick peek through Federal stats. The stats are not up to date, but vary between 2010 and 2006. Best I can find: We have 11 million Americans with forms of cancer, and 1.5 million new cancer cases diagnosed each year, whereas we have 1.1 million AIDS sufferers, with 56,000 new cases each year. Most current source I could find: AIDS gets just over four times the Federal funding ($21 billion), versus *all* types of cancer combined ($4.8 billion). Most healthcare folks I talk with (of all orientations, BTW) rue the fact that money isn’t thrown at cancer research in a more realistic proportion - to an individual they say we would have cures for some cancers by now.
[If you can find better stats, let me know and I’ll update this.]
Telegraph.UK: Star of Bethlehem may have been caused by movement of planet Jupiter, scientist claims
”The planet passed Regulus traveling first in its usual easterly movement, before then appeared to reverse and pass it again in a westerly direction and then changing direction once more to resume its normal direction to the east to pass the star for a third time. [snip] ‘Interestingly, in the world of astrology Jupiter is considered to be the king of planets and Regulus, which is the brightest star in the constellation Leo, is considered to be the king of stars.’” Two discontiguous quotes above, more discontiguous than I normally use ... they give you the salient facts, however.
BBC News: African elephant is two species, researchers say.
BBC News: Neanderthal family found cannibalised in cave in Spain.
“Markings on the bones show the unmistakeable signs of cannibal activity, say the researchers, with the group having probably been killed by their peers.” Neanderthal cannibalism is considered sophisticated behavior.
NY Times: Wearing the Right Stuff - Evolution of the Spacesuit.
“When you pressurize it, it’s like working inside of a sausage.” And it looked like working inside of a sausage, too.
New Scientist: Is night falling on classic solar panels?
“The key to these new devices is their ability to harvest infrared (IR) radiation, says Steven Novack, one of the pioneers of the technology at the US Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls. Nearly half of the available energy in the solar spectrum resides in the infrared band, and IR is re-emitted by the Earth’s surface after the sun has gone down, meaning that the antennas can even capture some energy during the night.”
Guardian.UK: Mobile phone masts linked to sharp rise in births.
“Do mobile phone towers make people more likely to procreate? Could it be possible that mobile phone radiation somehow aids fertilisation, or maybe there’s just something romantic about a mobile phone transmitter mast protruding from the landscape?” Researching potential positives, instead of the usual negatives?
New Scientist: No black holes found at LHC – yet.
Discover Magazine: Giant Magnifier Reaches 5,000 Degrees Using Only Sunlight.
“The burst of heat that spreads out from a nuclear explosion is so intense that it can inflict serious burns five miles away. At the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range near Las Cruces, New Mexico, a device called a solar furnace—essentially a three-story-high magnifying glass—routinely simulates the effects of such a blast.” This isn’t the only one around here. I believe Sandia has a riff off this.
NY Times: In 500 Billion Words, a New Window on Culture.
Semiotics profs are gonna go bananas ...
Haaretz: Roman statue discovered in Ashkelon after storm damage.
“Her clothing was chiseled meticulously – her toes are delicate, we see her sandals and her small emphasized bosom. Simply a stunningly beautiful statue.” Too bad all the other damage had to take place to reveal this little treasure.
Science Daily: Ancient forest emerges mummified from the Arctic.
“Ellesmere Island was quickly changing from a warm deciduous forest environment to an evergreen environment, on its way to the barren scrub we see today. The trees would have had to endure half of the year in darkness and in a cooling climate. That’s why the growth rings show that they grew so little, and so slowly.” 2 to 8 million years, that’s quite a spread. One assumes further study will narrow it down further. Extinct species ... seeds ... ?
Discover Magazine: Scientists Identify Mummified Head of a Murdered French King.
“It’s a hard life (and death) being a French king. Even if you’re popular, you’re assassinated. Revolutionaries disinter your body long after your death and make off with your mummified head. And then finally, 400 years after your death, your head supposedly turns up in the garage of a collector.” Interesting that it tends to be our least-attractive features that identify us.
Civil War Memory: Now, I am a Conservative, a Neo-Confederate so That’s My Point of View
There seems to be quite a dust-up going on in Civil War history these days, as concerns slavery and ‘black Confederates.’ Indeed, there seems to be a small movement gaining too much attention (sound familiar, fellow bloggers?) intent on revising widely accepted history. It’s instructive to watch historical interpretation being tested in realtime.
Later: Had to futz with the title to make it fit. Apologies.
Washington Post: Nearly 17% of Americans suffer food poisoning each year, study shows.
“One in six Americans gets sick from food every year, and about 3,000 die from those illnesses.” And what they don’t mention is that food poisoning can set off genetic autoimmune triggers, leaving longterm illness in its wake. Don’t take it lightly!
Discover Magazine: Are Gun-Toting Climate Skeptics Taking Pot Shots at Wind Turbines?
Discover Magazine: The face of Ariadne.
New Scientist: Living dinosaurs ... How birds took over the world.
“Ever since a single fossil feather was dug up 150 years ago, the origins of birds have been one of biology’s most contentious issues. That has all changed with a string of recent discoveries, most notably the famous feathered dinosaurs of China. In a little over a decade these have transformed our understanding of bird origins.”
NY Times: Out of Our Brains.
“There is no more reason, from the perspective of evolution or learning, to favor the use of a brain-only cognitive strategy than there is to favor the use of canny (but messy, complex, hard-to-understand) combinations of brain, body and world.”
Eurekalert: Study shows how flu infections may prevent asthma.
“Some infections appear to result in important protective effects against asthma.” There IS such a thing as ‘too clean.’
naked capitalism: Lesley Hazleton Explores the Koran.
A breath of fresh air.
NY Times: Out of Our Brains.
“But we seem to be entering an age in which cognitive prosthetics (which have always been around in one form or another) are displaying a kind of Cambrian explosion of new and potent forms. As the forms proliferate, and some become more entrenched, we might do well to pause and reflect on their nature and status.” Such as, what do you do when you can’t charge your batteries.
New Scientist, CultureLab: Louis XIV: The science king.
“When Louis XIV died in 1715, surgeons still belonged to the same profession as barbers and wigmakers in France, and the only functions they were allowed to perform were to shave, bleed and bring babies into the world. When a surgeon was called to remove the king’s anal fistula in 1686, he did the job with a slightly modified barber’s razor. All that was soon to change, however, largely thanks to Louis XIV himself ...”
Science Daily: Pomegranate juice components could stop cancer from spreading.
Interesting. This was direct application - not chugging juice from the supermarket.