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+ - Are hurricanes more deadly than himmicanes?->

Submitted by grrlscientist
grrlscientist (1127371) writes "A recently published paper claims that the gender of the name given to individual hurricanes is linked to the public's perception of the risk posed by that storm. In short, this study claims that hurricanes given female-sounding names are perceived to be less dangerous than those given male-sounding names (which we refer to here as "himmicanes"). This public underestimation of risk apparently results in hurricanes causing significantly more deaths than himmicanes. We reanalyse the data and find there is no relationship between hurricane name-gender and deaths caused."
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+ - Open and shut: These brainy birds open their own doors->

Submitted by grrlscientist
grrlscientist (1127371) writes "When the University of Victoria in Canada opened a new campus bike centre in the parkade located under the University Centre last November, motion-activated doors were installed to discourage swallows from nesting in the new facility. But when the swallows returned to their familiar nest sites a few weeks ago, they were undeterred by this peculiar impediment: they quickly learned how to open the doors by flying in front of the infrared motion detector."
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+ - PCBs cause birds to sing a different tune->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Songbirds living along the Hudson River in New York state are exposed to levels of PCBs that don't kill them but do disrupt the songs they sing, reports a team of researchers from Cornell University. Their study reveals that birds residing in regions with higher environmental PCB contamination levels have higher total blood PCBs, which affects their singing behaviour: the team found these species' songs varied predictably based on their PCB load, and also based upon the type of PCBs. Thus, the scientists suggest that another of the many toxic effects of sublethal environmental PCB pollution are neurological effects that translate into observable behaviour changes that disrupt song quality used by birds to communicate."
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+ - http://gu.com/p/3tzxq/tw ->

Submitted by grrlscientist
grrlscientist (1127371) writes "In this cool story, we learn that, addition to the amazing revelation that whales have earwax (!!), a team of researchers in the United States just published a paper detailing a new method that they developed for measuring a whale's lifetime exposure to a wide variety of chemicals pollutants — by studying their earwax!"
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+ - Woolly mammoth extinction due to warming climate->

Submitted by grrlscientist
grrlscientist (1127371) writes "In this scientific whodunnit, the latest research points a finger squarely at changing climate as the main culprit leading to the extinction of the woolly mammoth. This news story features images and a brief, readable summary of the study's findings and then below the jump, it goes into more detail about how the research team designed their study and worked together to figure everything out. The below-the-jump portion includes data images from the paper and relies on interviews with several authors and an expert who was not involved in the research."
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Education

+ - New Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences is misguided ->

Submitted by
grrlscientist
grrlscientist writes "Like a lot of people, I awoke this morning to the news of the new Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. Initiated by multibillionaires Art Levinson, Sergey Brin, Anne Wojcicki, Mark Zuckerberg, Priscilla Chan and Yuri Milner, the Breakthrough Prize is intended to recognise "excellence in research aimed at curing intractable diseases and extending human life." Winners are awarded $3 million each and since this is a prize, they can spend this money in any way they wish. According to the website, this prize is "dedicated to advancing breakthrough research, celebrating scientists and generating excitement about the pursuit of science as a career."

Wonderful — anything to give science a positive public platform. But unfortunately, this prize is flawed and seriously misguided and thus, I don't think it will accomplish its stated goals."

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News

+ - Young Gandalf meets his first giant eagle->

Submitted by
grrlscientist
grrlscientist writes "It seems that the public and the media are wildly grasping for crazy stories to focus attention on this holiday season, but one particular "story" is a video "gone viral". This amateur video claims to show a golden eagle snatching a toddler in a Montreal park. It is really scary and spectacular – until your morning coffee kicks in and awakens the thinking part of your brain.

The fact is this video is a fraud. A clever fraud, yes, but it's still a fraud. In fact, I am sure the video's creators are having a Santa-sized belly laugh over it right now. [read more]"

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Science

+ - Why Gerald Crabtree's speculations about declining human intelligence are wrong->

Submitted by
grrlscientist
grrlscientist writes "A couple hot-off-the-press articles published in Trends in Genetics have been garnering more attention than they're worth. In them, molecular geneticist Jerry Crabtree puts forward an argument that human cognitive abilities are declining — people are getting stupider."
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