Wed August 21, 2013

On A Rocky Maine Island, Puffins Are Making A Tenuous Comeback

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 8:12 pm

A puffin prepares to land with a bill full of fish on Eastern Egg Rock, off the Maine coast in July. Last year young puffins died at an alarming rate from starvation because of a shortage of herring.
Robert F. Bukaty AP

Rocky, windswept Eastern Egg Rock, about 6 miles off the coast of Maine, was once a haven for a hugely diverse bird population. But in the 1800s, fishermen decimated the birds' ranks — for food and for feathers.

When ornithologist Stephen Kress first visited 40 years ago, the 7-acre island was nearly barren, with only grass and gulls left. Not a puffin in sight. Not even an old puffin bone.

Read more


Wed August 21, 2013
Shots - Health News

Ebola Treatment Works In Monkeys, Even After Symptoms Appear

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 8:58 pm

The Ebola virus forms threadlike structures under the microscope.
Cynthia Goldsmith CDC

Ebola, your days as one of the world's scariest diseases may be numbered.

A team of U.S. government researchers has shown that deadly Ebola hemorrhagic fever can be vanquished in monkeys by an experimental drug given up to five days after infection — even when symptoms have already developed.

An antibody cocktail aimed at Ebola's outer surface rescued three of seven macaques infected with lethal doses of the hemorrhagic virus in the U.S. Army's high-security labs at Fort Detrick, Md.

Read more


Wed August 21, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

'Why This Compulsion To Run Long Distances?' A Runner's Beautiful Confession

From Racing the Antelope

Biologist Bernd Heinrich was in Zimbabwe, in the field, eyes down, looking for beetles, when for no particular reason he looked up and saw ... well, at first he wasn't sure what it was, so he stepped closer, leaned in, and there, painted on the underside of large protruding rock, were five human figures "running in one direction, from left to right across the rock face." They weren't very detailed, just "small, sticklike human figures in clear running stride" painted by a Bushman, two, maybe three thousand years ago.

Read more


Wed August 21, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Imperfection Makes The Universe Beautiful

High-energy physics in action: an image of an event in CERN's CMS detector during the search for the Higgs boson.

To celebrate the publication of the paperback edition of my book A Tear at the Edge of Creation, I want to go back to some of its themes, given that it's been three years and a lot has happened since then. From the discovery of the Higgs boson to the rampant absence of evidence for supersymmetry, it is fair to say that the predictions in Tear have held true.

Read more


Tue August 20, 2013
Shots - Health News

Golden Arches: Human Feet More Flexible Than We Thought

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 10:22 am

The healthy human foot's outer arch may be more flexible than previously thought.

The notion that sport shoes and inserts should keep the human arch stiffly supported is a decades-old assumption that could use some rethinking, according to a British gait analyst who has closely studied more than 25,000 footsteps of healthy people.

Read more


Tue August 20, 2013
Shots - Health News

Study Finds No Link Between Hallucinogens And Mental Problems

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 10:03 am

Don't fear the 'shrooms.

How risky are psychedelic drugs to mental health? Not nearly as much as you might have imagined.

People who had taken LSD, psilocybin (the brain-bending chemical in magic mushrooms) or mescaline at any time in their lives were no more likely than those who hadn't to wind up in mental health treatment or to have symptoms of mental illness, according to an analysis by some Norwegian researchers.

And there was some evidence that people who had taken the drugs at some point were less likely to have had recent mental health treatment.

Read more


Tue August 20, 2013
All Tech Considered

Facebook Makes Us Sadder And Less Satisfied, Study Finds

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 10:17 am

Researchers say Facebook use can lead to a decline in happiness and satisfaction.
Joerg Koch AP

Facebook's mission "to make the world more open and connected" is a familiar refrain among company leaders. But the latest research shows connecting 1.1 billion users around the world may come at a psychological cost.

A new University of Michigan study on college-aged adults finds that the more they used Facebook, the worse they felt. The study, published in the journal PLOS One, found Facebook use led to declines in moment-to-moment happiness and overall life satisfaction.

Read more


Tue August 20, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

The Dangers Of Being Right

Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 1:58 pm

We humans are a tribal lot. We can take the subtlest difference and drive it into a wedge seemingly worthy of anger, intolerance and violence. While there are situations where differences appear between people (or whole cultures) that demand lines be drawn, for the most part the fractures we create live in our heads.

Read more


Tue August 20, 2013

How Extreme Australian Rains Made Global Sea Levels Drop

Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 9:19 am

Heavy rains in Australia in 2010 and 2011 flooded farmland and homes, like these in the Queensland state town of St. George, seen here on Feb. 7. 2011.
Sally Nicol Rigney AFP/Getty Images

Global sea level has been rising as a result of global warming, but in 2010 and 2011, sea level actually fell by about a quarter of an inch.

Scientists now say they know why: It has to do with extreme weather in Australia.

The sea level drop coincided with some of the worst flooding in that continent's history. Dozens of people died and torrents washed away houses and cars, forcing thousands from their homes.

Read more


Tue August 20, 2013
Music News

How To Win That Music Competition? Send A Video

Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 5:13 am

If someone like Lang Lang were starting out now, the energetic concert pianist could nail every piano competition without the judges ever hearing a note, according to a new study.
China Photos Getty Images

Chia-Jung Tsay was something of a piano prodigy. By age 12, she was performing Mendelssohn in concert. At 16, she made her debut at Carnegie Hall. Soon, she was on her way to some of the best music schools in the country — Juilliard and the Peabody Conservatory. And she was throwing her hat in the ring for different competitions.

Read more