Sooner or later, Tom Scott was going to get around to this: it’s one of the most famous experiments in linguistics. Written with Molly Ruhl and Gretchen McCulloch. Gretchen’s podcast has an episode all about this — via Youtube
In a famous ongoing experiment started in 1960, scientists turned foxes into tame, doglike canines by breeding only the least aggressive ones generation after generation. The creatures developed stubby snouts, floppy ears, and even began to bark. Now, it appears that some rural red foxes in the United Kingdom are doing this on their own. When the animals moved from the forest to city habitats, they began to evolve doglike traits, new research reveals, potentially setting themselves on the path to domestication — via Science
A team of scientists led by the University of Cambridge has found that when cuttlefish know they’re getting shrimp for dinner, they’ll only have a light lunch of crabs. This ability to anticipate their favourite food is an indication of the cephalopod’s complex brain and cognitive abilities — via New Atlas
When water flows deep underground, it often dissolves inorganic substances from mineral deposits in the earth’s crust. In many regions, these deposits contain arsenic, a naturally occurring element that is colourless, tasteless and odourless. Although its presence is barely noticeable, prolonged exposure to arsenic-contaminated water can lead to gangrene, disease and many types of cancer, resulting in major loss of income for millions of people and even death.
Inspired by natural processes in soil that bind contaminants and filter them out, Case van Genuchten, a researcher in the Geochemistry Department of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, has been using iron oxides such as rust, which are abundant in soil, to filter out arsenic from groundwater. He leads experiments at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory that investigate low-cost methods of treating groundwater using only small amounts of electricity and steel or iron. The team’s most recent paper, which compares the arsenic-removing performance of different forms of rust has been published in Water Research — via Phys.org
Rats have mastered the art of driving a tiny car, suggesting that their brains are more flexible than we thought. The finding could be used to understand how learning new skills relieves stress and how neurological and psychiatric conditions affect mental capabilities.
They constructed a tiny car out of a clear plastic food container on wheels, with an aluminium floor and three copper bars functioning as a steering wheel. When a rat stood on the aluminium floor and gripped the copper bars with their paws, they completed an electrical circuit that propelled the car forward. Touching the left, centre or right bar steered the car in different directions.
Six female and 11 male rats were trained to drive the car in rectangular arenas up to 4 square metres in size. They were rewarded with Froot Loop cereal pieces when they touched the steering bars and drove the car forward — via New Scientist
I assure you that the impact between the Monolith and 2592 magnetic balls scared me. The collision of magnets was violent and the balls were splashed all over the room. I wore protective glasses at every impact, and it served — via Youtube
Derek Muller took a boat through 96 million black plastic balls on the Los Angeles reservoir to find out why they’re there. The first time he heard about shade balls the claim was they reduce evaporation. But it turns out this isn’t the reason they were introduced — via Youtube
How these @*#%!$ things became a symbol for cursing — via Youtube
Celebrating the whole 12-year Journey of New Horizons probe. This is Brian’s personal tribute to the on-going NASA New Horizons mission, which on New Years Day 2019 will achieve the most distant spacecraft flyby in history — via Youtube
Scientists from Melbourne’s Bionics Institute and the University of Melbourne believe they can use nanotechnology to deliver restorative drugs to deep within the ear to sufferers of neural hearing loss.
It is the most common form of deafness, affecting people as they age, or if they’ve been exposed to prolonged periods of loud noise in industries such as music, mining, construction, manufacturing or the military — via ABC News
Just admit it, goat eyes look a bit unusual! They’re flatter and more elongated than ours and that actually might be a key towards their survival. A study out of the University of California, Berkeley looked at many different animal eyeballs and discovered a fascinating trend — via Youtube
Verge Science met the very cute and very bizarre result of an almost 60-year-long experiment: they’re foxes that have been specially bred for their dog-like friendliness toward people. They do a little behaviour research of their own, and discover what scientists continue to learn from the world’s most famous experiment in domestication. The fox experiment continues under the supervision of Lyudmila Trut at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics. Her book
How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog), co-authored by Lee Alan Dugatkin, details the history and science behind the experiment — via Youtube
This video is about Tuned Mass Dampers, which can be used to reduce or avoid unwanted vibrations, swaying, swinging, bending, etc on engineered structures ranging from buildings, skyscrapers, electricity power transmission lines, airplane engines, formula one race cars, etc. TMD’s use damped coupled oscillators — via Youtube
This small lake outside Stockholm, Sweden, emits otherworldly sounds as Mårten Ajne skates over its precariously thin, black ice.
Wild ice skating, or
Nordic skating, is both an art and a science. A skater seeks out the thinnest, most pristine black ice possible — both for its smoothness, and for its high-pitched, laser-like sounds — via Youtube
For the microscopic lab worm C elegans, life equates to just a few short weeks on Earth. The bowhead whale, on the other hand, can live over two hundred years. Why are these lifespans so different? And what does it really mean to
age anyway? Joao Pedro de Magalhaes explains why the pace of ageing varies greatly across animals.
Poisoning has always been a popular method of getting rid of one’s enemies, but is there actually a
perfect poison capable of being completely undetectable? Here are six of the poisons that have confounded doctors throughout history — via Youtube
Don’t feel bad. You don’t suck, the game makers do — via Youtube
This question vexed Darwin — and now we have a fascinating answer — via Youtube
Among living things, the color blue is oddly rare. Blue rocks, blue sky, blue water, sure. But blue animals? They are few and far between. And the ones that do make blue? They make it in some very strange and special ways compared to other colors. In this video, we’ll look at some very cool butterflies to help us learn how living things make blue, and why this beautiful hue is so rare in nature — via Youtube
Already replete with sharks, crocodiles, snakes and poisonous jellyfish galore, Australia may also be home to arsonist birds that spread fire so they can feed on animals as they flee.
The belief that birds like the Whistling Kite, Black Kite and Brown Falcon spread grass fires goes back so far that it’s commemorated in indigenous ceremonial dances, according to Bob Gosford, a co-author of this paper in the Journal of Enthnobiology.
The paper posits that the behaviour isn’t accidental:
Most accounts and traditions unequivocally indicate intentionality on the part of three raptor species and a handful provide evidence of cooperative fire-spreading by select individuals from within larger fire-foraging raptor assemblages, it notes.
And while the researchers’ main interest was to confirm and document those stories, Gosford told Vulture South the research is also important to understanding how fire spreads in Australia.
This may give us cause to re-examine fire history, and the conduct of fire in this country, Gosford said — via The Register
At first glance this crocheted blanket just looks like a pretty pattern. But it is actually so much more! The blanket maps out climate change over the course of the past 130 years. Each hexagon represents a single year and the colours represent the change from the mid century average.
This ingenious data visualization blanket is the brainchild of Lara Cooper. By day, Cooper is a wildlife conservation biologist. But when she isn’t in the lab she runs Level Up Nerd Apparel, an online store where she makes and sells nerdy apparel. This project was the perfect way for her to put both of those skills together — via Make: Zine
In Lancaster, California, there’s a musical road. When you drive over it, it plays the William Tell Overture. Unfortunately, it’s out of tune. Here’s why — via Youtube
Australian researchers have developed a new superglue-like substance that can be squirted onto wounds — even internal ones — to seal them within seconds, potentially revolutionising treatment in war zones and at the site of car crashes.
The gel works like the regular bathroom sealant commonly used for tiling, but is made from a natural elastic protein.
You can just squirt it onto a wound site, zap it with light and the whole thing sets in a matter of seconds, University of Sydney biochemistry professor Anthony Weiss said — via ABC News
Why Christopher Nolan is obsessed with Shepard tones — via Youtube
Ancient Roman concrete marine structures built thousands of years ago are stronger now than when they were first built.
So how has Roman concrete outlasted the empire, while modern concrete mixtures erode within decades of being exposed to seawater?
Scientists have uncovered the chemistry behind how Roman sea walls and harbour piers resisted the elements, and what modern engineers could learn from it.
Romans built their sea walls from a mixture of lime (calcium oxide), volcanic rocks and volcanic ash, a study, published in the journal American Mineralogist, found.
Elements within the volcanic material reacted with sea water to strengthen the concrete structure and prevent cracks from growing over time.
It’s the most durable building material in human history, and I say that as an engineer not prone to hyperbole, Roman monument expert Phillip Brune told the Washington Post — via redwolf.newsvine.com
When radium was first discovered, its luminous green colour inspired people to add it into beauty products and jewelry. It wasn’t until much later that we realized that radium’s harmful effects outweighed its visual benefits. Unfortunately, radium isn’t the only pigment that historically seemed harmless or useful but turned out to be deadly. JV Maranto details history’s deadliest colours — via Youtube
Forensic scientists say they have been overwhelmed by the number of people wanting to donate their corpses to the southern hemisphere’s first body farm.
The secret bushland facility on the outskirts of Sydney is being used to study how human bodies decompose.
It was established in early 2016 by Professor Shari Forbes, a forensic scientist from the University of Technology Sydney.
We’re not CSI, we don’t solve investigations in an hour, but we can solve investigations through the research that we do, Professor Forbes said.
The facility is currently the only body farm outside the United States and Professor Forbes said the public interest had been higher than anyone had expected.
The level of interest has definitely surprised us, she said.
We already have 30 of our donors who have arrived at our facility, and that’s in just over a year.
We weren’t expecting anywhere near that number.
More than 500 people have now said they will also donate their bodies to the cause once they die.
We do have a slight bias towards seniors and the elderly, thankfully because they live long and healthy lives and intend to die from natural causes, Professor Forbes said.
We don’t hope to see young people out there, but the few that arrive are really beneficial to the work that we do for the police — via redwolf.newsvine.com
When you examine the lives of history’s most creative figures, you are immediately confronted with a paradox: They organize their lives around their work, but not their days.
Figures as different as Charles Dickens, Henri Poincaré, and Ingmar Bergman, working in disparate fields in different times, all shared a passion for their work, a terrific ambition to succeed, and an almost superhuman capacity to focus. Yet when you look closely at their daily lives, they only spent a few hours a day doing what we would recognize as their most important work. The rest of the time, they were hiking mountains, taking naps, going on walks with friends, or just sitting and thinking. Their creativity and productivity, in other words, were not the result of endless hours of toil. Their towering creative achievements result from modest
How did they manage to be so accomplished? Can a generation raised to believe that 80-hour workweeks are necessary for success learn something from the lives of the people who laid the foundations of chaos theory and topology or wrote Great Expectations?
I think we can. If some of history’s greatest figures didn’t put in immensely long hours, maybe the key to unlocking the secret of their creativity lies in understanding not just how they laboured but how they rested, and how the two relate — via redwolf.newsvine.com
There are several different ways of thinking about how many continents there are, with models ranging from 4 to 7 continents. However, in most English speaking countries, as well as other nations around the world, the 7-continent model is taught. Using this model, the continents of the world in order of size (descending) are: Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia — via Youtube
A new approach to target and kill destructive feral cats is being developed in South Australia, in a bid to help save threatened native animals.
The task of reducing the feral cat population has been difficult due to the lack of effective and humane broad-scale control techniques.
In a lab at the University of South Australia, researchers have created a rice-sized implant that can be injected into native animals, making them toxic to feral cats.
Anton Blencowe, polymer chemistry expert at the university, said it was a unique approach that could help safeguard a range of endangered species.
It’s got a toxin in the middle, and then it’s got a special coating around the outside so that we can make the animals toxic to cats, he said.
But at the same time make sure the implant is not toxic to native animals.
The implant contains a natural poison from seeds of native plants and is covered by protective coating.
It remains inert until it comes into contact with the feral cat, and while it’s harmless to the native animal, to the predator it’s highly deadly once ingested — via redwolf.newsvine.com
Archaeologists investigating human bones excavated from the deserted mediaeval village of Wharram Percy in North Yorkshire have suggested that the villagers burned and mutilated corpses to prevent the dead from rising from their graves to terrorise the living.
Although starvation cannibalism often accounts for the mutilation of corpses during the Middle Ages, when famines were common, researchers from Historic England and the University of Southampton have found that the ways in which the Wharram Perry remains had been dismembered suggested actions more significant of folk beliefs about preventing the dead from going walkabout.
Their paper, titled A multidisciplinary study of a burnt and mutilated assemblage of human remains from a deserted mediaeval village in England, is published today in the Journal of Archaeological Science — via redwolf.newsvine.com
Enter the magical miniature world of fungi in these time-lapses by fungi photographer Stephen Axford.
Two photographers, Steve Axford and Catherine Marciniak, only one intervalometer and a forecast of a stormy Sunday afternoon resulted in the story of a forest to go with the fabulous time-lapse photography Steve has been doing of fungi growing — via Youtube
A group of four birdwatchers from Broome has photographed Australia’s most mysterious bird, the night parrot, in Western Australia.
The sighting is all that more remarkable when you consider that the night parrot was not confirmed as still alive in Australia until three years ago, and that the photograph was taken in a patch of spinifex 2,000 kilometres from where the bird was rediscovered in Western Queensland.
While the group described the parrot as a
fat budgerigar, the sighting was the equivalent of winning the bird watching lotto — via redwolf.newsvine.com
The yellow submarine named Boaty McBoatface is set to leave for Antarctica this week on its first science expedition.
The robot is going to map the movement of deep waters that play a critical role in regulating Earth’s climate.
Boaty carries the name that a public poll had suggested be given to the UK’s future £200m polar research vessel.
The government felt this would be inappropriate and directed the humorous moniker go on a submersible instead.
But what many people may not realise is that there is actually more than one Boaty. The name covers a trio of vehicles in the new Autosub Long Range class of underwater robots developed at Southampton’s National Oceanography Centre (NOC).
These machines can all be configured slightly differently depending on the science tasks they are given.
The one that will initiate the
adventures of Boaty will head out of Punta Arenas, Chile, on Friday aboard Britain’s current polar ship, the RRS James Clark Ross.
The JCR will drop the sub into a narrow, jagged, 3,500m-deep gap in an underwater ridge that extends northeast of the Antarctic Peninsula. Referred to as the Orkney Passage, this is the gateway into the Atlantic for much of the
bottom-water that is created as sea-ice grows on the margins of the White Continent — via redwolf.newsvine.com
Planet Earth II, possibly the most lavish nature documentary ever made, has catapulted the images taken by fungi photographer Steve Axford from the forest floor to the world.
Axford started photographing rainforests around Lismore, on the NSW North Coast, about 10 years ago, and in retirement the hobby became an obsession.
The next step for Axford was to find a way to create time lapses of his fungi beauties showing the life cycles of the mushrooms.
I had a spare shower which I thought the fungus would grow quite well in so I could bring logs in and put them in the shower and the fungus could grow and I could take time lapse, Axford said.
Well I did that and it worked brilliantly and things have just grown from there.
Time lapse footage of Axford’s fungi photography have gone viral online, and people around the world started to notice that he was discovering plants never seen before.
One of them was a fungus which is now called a blue truffle.
It’s a completely new thing — never seen before — and he’s found that on the forest floor, Dr Tom May from the Herbarium of Victoria said — via redwolf.newsvine.com
Gav and Dan, the Slow-Mo Guys, are always looking for something to film with their high-speed cameras. Something that people will find interesting, but more important, things that will look good in a video. Explosions? Yeah! Pretty colors? Yeah! So they gathered bags of paint powder and vehicle airbag devices and headed out to a quarry, far from anyone who would be bothered — via Youtube
The pigments in our food all get destroyed on their way through our digestive system… so where do the colours of our poop and pee come from? — via Youtube
This instructable documents makendo’s efforts to reimagine a 3D periodic table of the elements, using modern making methods. It’s based on the structure of a chiral nanotube, and is made from a 3D printed lattice, laser cut acrylic, a lazy susan bearing, 118 sample vials and a cylindrical lamp — via Instructables
The way we can make traffic disappear — via Youtube
Many have tried to keep a white shark in captivity. Here’s why that’s so difficult — via Youtube
5000 shots 59 fuses and 80m to leg it so Colin Furze is not the target — via Youtube
A surprising 60-year boom in global octopus, squid and cuttlefish numbers points to long-term changes taking place in the world’s oceans, scientists say.
Research published in Current Biology today shows a steady increase in the world cephalopod population — the class of molluscs comprising octopus, squid and cuttlefish — since the 1950s, at a time of increased fishing, growing pollution and ocean warming.
The data analysis, led by Dr Zoe Doubleday from Australia’s Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide, has confounded previous expectations that cephalopod populations go through cyclical booms and busts.
Anecdotal evidence had suggested the population may experience cyclical booms and busts over time, but there is instead a very consistent increase, she said — via redwolf.newsvine.com