Science

11:45am

Fri January 18, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Why Do Engineers Put Faces On Their Robots?

The face says it all: Yairo Yau grimaces during a December 2012 match between Sydney FC and the Melbourne Heart in Sydney.
Craig Golding Getty Images

Scientists at Queen's University Belfast have shown that crabs will avoid a location where they have received electric shocks in the past.

Does this show that crabs feel pain?

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8:39am

Fri January 18, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

No Fists, Gentlemen, Just Necks. The Ali & Frazier Of The Giraffe World

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 10:18 am

iStockphoto

3:36am

Fri January 18, 2013
Animals

Figuring How to Pay For (Chimp) Retirement

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 10:06 pm

Hannah and Marty eat watermelon snacks at the Save the Chimps sanctuary.
Save the Chimps

Retirees flock to Florida — and the Sunshine State even has a retirement home for chimpanzees.

There, chimps live in small groups on a dozen man-made islands. Each 3-acre grassy island has palm trees and climbing structures, and is surrounded by a moat.

This is Save the Chimps, the world's biggest sanctuary for chimps formerly used in research experiments or the entertainment industry, or as pets. The chimps living here — 266 of them — range in age from 6 years old to over 50. And as sanctuary Director Jen Feuerstein drives around in a golf cart, she recognizes each one.

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6:26pm

Thu January 17, 2013
Shots - Health News

It's Legal For Some Insurers To Discriminate Based On Genes

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 10:48 am

Slides containing DNA sit in a bay waiting to be analyzed by a genome sequencing machine.
David Paul Morris Bloomberg via Getty Images

Getting the results of a genetic test can be a bit like opening Pandora's box. You might learn something useful or interesting, or you might learn that you're likely to develop an incurable disease later on in life.

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5:43pm

Thu January 17, 2013
Environment

Understanding Climate Change, With Help From Thoreau

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 12:35 pm

Researchers in Massachusetts and Wisconsin are comparing modern flower blooming data with notes made by Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold. The sight of irises blooming during a Boston winter helped spur the research.
Darlyne A. Murawski Getty Images/National Geographic Creative

Modern scientists trying to understand climate change are engaged in an unlikely collaboration — with two beloved but long-dead nature writers: Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold.

The authors of Walden and A Sand County Almanac and last spring's bizarrely warm weather have helped today's scientists understand that the first flowers of spring can continue to bloom earlier, as temperatures rise to unprecedented levels.

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3:14pm

Thu January 17, 2013
Shots - Health News

Scientists Try To Thwart Flu Virus By Resetting Its Clock

Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 3:33 pm

When flu viruses (in red) accumulate an escape protein too quickly, they exit the cell nucleus (in blue) before they've made enough viral copies to spread the infection.
Benjamin tenOever

Flu viruses can tell time. Sort of. And the viral clock-watching could provide a new way to fight the flu.

A study in Cell Reports describes how researchers tapped into the flu's internal clock as they search for ways to keep the virus from spreading.

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2:51pm

Thu January 17, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Why Does Jared Diamond Make Anthropologists So Mad?

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 7:54 am

Diamond argues that there are things we can learn from small-scale societies like those found in Papua New Guinea.
Torsten Blackwood AFP/Getty Images

Jared Diamond is once again inflaming my tribe.

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12:38pm

Thu January 17, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Learning To Live In The Moment With 'The Dude'

Jeff Bridges attends The Big Lebowski Blu-ray release on August 16, 2011 in New York City.
Mike Coppola Getty Images

10:24am

Thu January 17, 2013
The Salt

Yes, Virginia, Crabs Likely Feel Pain, But They're Still Delicious

Boiling is the easiest way to dispatch a crustacean, but there are some signs that the creatures can feel pain.
iStockphoto.com

Whether crustaceans feel pain is generally something people try not to think about while munching on a crab cake or a lobster roll. Few of us would like to think that our dinner suffered during preparation, but still, we can't help but be a little curious.

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5:11pm

Wed January 16, 2013
Environment

Could Some Midwest Land Support New Biofuel Refineries?

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 7:16 am

Vegetation like the kind growing here at Michigan State University's Kellogg Biological Station could one day be used to feed small biofuel refineries spread throughout the Midwest.
J.E.Doll Michigan State University

Millions of acres of marginal farmland in the Midwest — land that isn't in good enough condition to grow crops — could be used to produce liquid fuels made from plant material, according to a study in Nature. And those biofuels could, in theory, provide about 25 percent of the advanced biofuels required by a 2007 federal law.

But there are many ifs and buts about this study — and, in fact, about the future of advanced biofuels.

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