×

Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

Comments

sciencehabit hasn't commented recently.

Submissions

top

Whales amplify sound with their skull bones

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  yesterday

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The loud, moaning calls of large, baleen whales—such as fin, right, gray, and blue whales—can travel hundreds of kilometers through the sea as the cetaceans reach out to contact others of their kind. Yet scientists have not fully understood how sounds reach the baleen whales’ ear bones. Now, researchers report today in PLOS ONE that they’ve solved the mystery by means of a 3D computer model of a fin whale’s skull. By simulating sound waves traveling through the computerized skull, the scientists discovered that the whales use an unusual mechanism for hearing: bone conduction. The fin whale’s skull bones (and likely those of other baleen whales) vibrate and amplify the low-frequency sounds, directing them to the ear bones. The discovery may help lawmakers set limits on the amount of noise humans can make in the deep sea."
Link to Original Source
top

Spider spins electrically charged silk

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  2 days ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "In their quest to make ultrastrong yet ultrasmall fibers, the polymer industry may soon take a lesson from Uloborus spiders. Uloborids are cribellate spiders, meaning that instead of spinning wet, sticky webs to catch their prey, they produce a fluffy, charged, wool-like silk. A paper published online today in Biology Letters details the process for the first time. It all starts with the silk-producing cribellar gland. In contrast with other spiders, whose silk comes out of the gland intact, scientists were surprised to discover that uloborids’ silk is in a liquid state when it surfaces. As the spider yanks the silk from the duct, it solidifies into nanoscale filaments. This “violent hackling” has the effect of stretching and freezing the fibers into shape. It may even be responsible for increasing their strength, because filaments on the nanoscale become stronger as they are stretched. In order to endow the fibers with an electrostatic charge, the spider pulls them over a comblike plate located on its hind legs. The technique is not unlike the so-called hackling of flax stems over a metal brush in order to soften and prepare them for thread-spinning, but in the spider’s case it also gives them a charge. The electrostatic fibers are thought to attract prey to the web in the same way a towel pulled from the dryer is able to attract stray socks."
Link to Original Source
top

Ancient human jawbone surfaces off coast of Taiwan

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  2 days ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A fisherman who pulled in his nets 25 kilometers off the coast of Taiwan got a surprising catch: the lower jawbone of an ancient human. The bone is robust and sports unusually large molars and premolars, suggesting that it once belonged to an archaic member of our genus Homo. The Penghu jaw and teeth most closely resemble a partial skull of H. erectus from Longtan Cave in Hexian on the mainland of China, as well as earlier H. erectus fossils. Although it wasn’t possible to date the jawbone directly, it was found with an extinct species of hyena that suggests this archaic human was alive in the past 400,000 years and, most likely, in the past 200,000 years. If so, the find suggests that H. erectus persisted late in Asia, or that there were several other types of humans still alive at the time in this region. It might even be a member of the mysterious Denisovan people, a close relative of Neandertals known only from a finger bone and two teeth from Denisova Cave in Russia and its ancient DNA."
Link to Original Source
top

Telescope detects galaxy's oldest known solar system

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  3 days ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Astronomers have spotted the oldest known set of planets in the Milky Way, a quintet of hot and presumably rocky worlds that is more than twice as old as our solar system. The parent star of the planetary system is Kepler-444, a sunlike star about 117 light-years from Earth. All the planets lie within 12 million kilometers of their star and circle it in 10 days or less.Further study of the ancient system may shed light on the early days of planetary formation in the galaxy."
Link to Original Source
top

Childhood neglect erodes the brain

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  3 days ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "In perhaps the most famous study of childhood neglect, researchers have closely tracked the progress, or lack of it, in children who lived as infants in Romania’s bleak orphanages and are now teenagers. A new analysis now shows that these children, who display a variety of behavioral and cognitive problems, have less white matter in their brains than do a group of comparable children in local families. The affected brain regions include nerve bundles that support attention, general cognition, and emotion processing. The work suggests that sensory deprivation early in life can have dramatic anatomical impacts on the brain and may help explain the previously documented long-term negative affects on behavior. But there’s some potential good news: A small group of children who were taken out of orphanages and moved into foster homes at age 2 appeared to bounce back, at least in brain structure."
Link to Original Source
top

Why sodium + water = classic classroom explosion

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  3 days ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Explosions are fun—ask any budding chemistry student. That’s why dropping a chunk of pure sodium into water is a classic classroom demonstration. The resulting violent reaction can produce impressive flames and a loud bang. Although the basic chemistry of the popular experiment has long been understood, the details were not. Now, scientists have captured the action using high-speed video cameras and discovered an unexpected trigger. Less than a millisecond after sodium and water meet, the sodium contorts into a sea urchin–like shape, growing spikes that shoot out into the water and initiate a runaway reaction."
Link to Original Source
top

10 new Rosetta images reveal comet 67P in all its glory

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about a week ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The first scientific results from Rosetta at comet 67P have been published, and they detail a surprising diversity of features on the 4-kilometer-long duck-shaped comet. The discoveries include images from Rosetta’s main science camera, OSIRIS, which reveal 67P to be a far more diverse place than anyone expected."
Link to Original Source
top

New nanoparticle drug stops cancer's spread in mice

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about a week ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A new nanotech therapy may help us fight cancer. When a person dies from cancer, the culprit isn't usually the original tumor — it's metastasis, the spread of cancer cells throughout the body. Now, researchers have managed to package a drug in nanoparticles so that it can target these cancer cells without, crucially, interfering with normal cells — and report that they've prevented cancer cells from metastasizing in mice."
Link to Original Source
top

'Genetic firewall' holds engineered microbes captive

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about a week ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Human-engineered microbes can cause big problems if they become contaminated by other microbes or viruses or escape into the environment. Now, a new type of microbe that can survive only on artificial nutrients promises better security against such mishaps. The new strategy might ultimately be used to control genetically engineered plants or other organisms released into the wild to create products or clean up pollution."
Link to Original Source
top

U.S. Senate set to vote on whether climate change is a hoax

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about a week ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The U.S. Senate’s simmering debate over climate science has come to a full boil today, as lawmakers prepare to vote on measures offered by Democrats that affirm that climate change is real—with one also noting that global warming is not “a hoax.” In an effort to highlight their differences with some Republicans on climate policy, several Democrats have filed largely symbolic amendments to a bill that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline. They are designed to put senators on the record on whether climate change is real and human-caused."
Link to Original Source
top

Scientists pinpoint 8 genes that determine brain size

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about a week ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "When it comes to brains, bigger is definitely better. Now, scientists have pinpointed 8 genes that help determine the size of key brain regions that influence everything from memory to motor control. These variants may represent “the genetic essence of humanity,” says Stephan Sanders, a geneticist and pediatrician at the University of California, San Francisco."
Link to Original Source
top

Physicists figure out how to read scrolls scorched by Mount Vesuvius eruption

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about two weeks ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "In 79 C.E., Mount Vesuvius erupted, destroying the city of Pompeii — and a nearby library filled with scrolls. We've been trying to unroll these scorched scrolls since the 1750's, but the risk of damage was just too high. Now, physicists have figured out how to read the scrolls using high-powered x-rays. By placing a rolled up scroll in the path of a beam of powerful x-rays produced by a particle accelerator, researchers can measure a key difference between the burned papyrus and the ink on its surface: how fast the x-rays move through each substance."
Link to Original Source
top

Are earthquakes also earth burps?

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about two weeks ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "An “excuse me” might be nice. Researchers have found that Earth belches a potent greenhouse gas known as tetrafluoromethane (CF4) during earthquakes and other tectonic events. The emissions likely aren’t making a significant contribution to global warming, but the findings could change the way scientists model future climate scenarios. They also complicate the use of CF4 as a way to measure how the continents and climate have changed over millennia."
Link to Original Source
top

Sewage sludge could contain millions of dollars worth of gold

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about two weeks ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "If the holy grail of medieval alchemists was turning lead into gold, how much more magical would it be to draw gold from, well, poop? It turns out that a ton of sludge, the goo left behind when treating sewage, could contain several hundred dollars’ worth of metals—potentially enough to generate millions of dollars worth of gold, silver, and other minerals each year for a city of a million people."
Link to Original Source
top

Belief that some fields require 'brilliance' may keep women out

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about two weeks ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Certain scientific fields require a special type of brilliance, according to conventional wisdom. And a new study suggests that this belief, as misguided as it may be, helps explain the underrepresentation of women in those fields. The authors found that fields in which inborn ability is prized over hard work produced relatively fewer female Ph.D.s. This trend, based on 2011 data from the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Earned Doctorates, also helps explain why gender ratios don’t follow the simplified STEM/non-STEM divide in some fields, including philosophy and biology, they conclude."
Link to Original Source
top

Human language may have evolved to help our ancestors make tools

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about two weeks ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "If there’s one thing that distinguishes humans from other animals, it’s our ability to use language. But when and why did this trait evolve? A new study concludes that the art of conversation may have arisen early in human evolution, because it made it easier for our ancestors to teach each other how to make stone tools—a skill that was crucial for the spectacular success of our lineage. The study involved getting a number of college students to try to make their own primitive stone tools, some using language, others not. The team discovered that only those that used language were able to make effective tools."
Link to Original Source
top

A new explanation for zebra stripes

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about two weeks ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Zebra stripes are a mystery. Scientists have speculated that they do everything from enabling the equids to evade predators by creating an optical illusion when a herd gallops away to regulating body heat to helping the animals avoid biting flies. But a new team of researchers argues that none of these hypotheses has addressed the marked regional variation in the pattern of striping seen on plains zebras, which range from southern Ethiopia to eastern South Africa. The scientists quantified the characteristics of stripes on zebras at 16 sites across the animals’ range and examined 29 environmental factors, including temperature, predation, and biting flies, searching for an association. The strongest correlation was between temperature and striping, they report. In areas with the lowest seasonal temperatures, zebras have fewer and fainter stripes. The scientists don’t know why this correlation exists, but suggest that it may be tied to heat regulation or to disease-carrying parasites harbored by tsetse flies."
Link to Original Source
top

Your computer knows you better than your friends do

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about two weeks ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Are you a shy person with a snarky sense of humor who secretly craves hugs? You might be able to conceal that from your friends, but not from your computer. A new study of Facebook data shows that machines are now better at sussing out our true personalities than even our closest acquaintances."
Link to Original Source
top

New fabric turns your body into a furnace

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about three weeks ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The future of winter clothes has arrived, and it’s even better than wrapping yourself in an electric blanket. Researchers have created a new cloth that warms up with just a bit of electricity and traps body heat more efficiently than standard cotton fabric. The scientists dipped ordinary cotton cloth in a solution of silver nanowire particles, which form a conductive network embedded in the cloth. By varying the concentration of the solution, the researchers were able to control the particles’ spacing in the network, ultimately finding the sweet spot where the fabric trapped close to 80% of the heat our bodies radiate while still allowing water molecules to pass through. That retains the breathability of the material, making it possible to create comfortable winter clothes out of the new fabric. For extra-cold days, electricity can provide an additional boost: The cloth warms up to nearly 40C when powered with a mere 0.9 volts of electricity."
Link to Original Source
top

Computer "solves" Texas Hold 'em poker

sciencehabit sciencehabit writes  |  about three weeks ago

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Card sharks, beware. A new program cannot be beaten at a variety of poker called heads-up limit Texas Hold ’em—at least in a human lifetime—a team of computer scientists reports. Researchers had previously developed unbeatable algorithms for other games such as checkers, but the new work marks the first time scientists have found such an algorithm for—or "solved"—a complex game in which some information about the state of the game (i.e., the cards in his opponent’s hand) remains hidden from the player. The program has yielded insights that could help players improve their game, and the general approach may have real-world usefulness in security and health care applications."
Link to Original Source

Journals

sciencehabit has no journal entries.

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?