Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

+ - Even online, you can't have more than 150 friends->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "An online science fiction game may not seem like the ideal place to study human behavior, but physicist Stefan Thurner has shown that the way people act in the virtual world isn’t so different from how they act in the real one. Scientists have stated that our brains aren't large enough or interconnected enough to maintain an infinite number of personal relationships; 150 seems to be the max (the so-called Dunbar's number). Now by studying the 7,000 users of the online game Pardus, Thurner has shown that the same hold true for the virtual world. No player had more than about 130 significant relationships online. So there may indeed be a biological limit on how many friendships we can form."
Link to Original Source

+ - Physicists identify possible new particle behind dark matter->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Like cops tracking the wrong person, physicists seeking to identify dark matter—the mysterious stuff whose gravity appears to bind the galaxies—may have been stalking the wrong particle. In fact, a particle with some properties opposite to those of physicists' current favorite dark matter candidate—the weakly interacting massive particle, or WIMP—would do just as good a job at explaining the stuff, a quartet of theorists says. Hypothetical strongly interacting massive particles—or SIMPs—would also better account for some astrophysical observations, they argue."
Link to Original Source

+ - Simple tweak could nearly double the amount you give to charity->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A representative from a charitable organization stops you on the sidewalk and asks for $100 to feed people starving in the developing world. And a large donor has agreed to match your donation. Still, you hesitate, because you wonder how much of that money will be sucked up by the salary of the charity's CEO or the costs of yet more fundraising. "Don't worry," the rep tells you, "all of those overhead costs are paid for by another donor: So 100% of your money will help the hungry." It may seem to be nothing more than an accounting trick—after all, the charity's budget and operation hasn't changed—but you will now be almost twice as likely to donate and willing to give 75% more money, according to a new study. It is yet more evidence that classic economic theory is wrong about how people make decisions."
Link to Original Source

+ - Mirror image RNA enzymes may hold clues to origin of life->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Like a pair of hands that appear as mirror images of one another, biomolecules, such as DNA and RNA, come in left-handed and right-handed forms. Normally, enzymes that recognize one mirror image form won’t touch the other. But researchers have isolated RNA enzymes, known as ribozymes, that synthesize RNAs of the opposite handedness. As esoteric as this may sound, similar mirror image–making RNAs may have played a role in the early evolution of life."
Link to Original Source

+ - Earthquake sensors track urban traffic, too->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Besides the roar of engines and honking of angry drivers, rush-hour traffic also makes underground “noise.” We can’t hear most of these ground vibrations, but seismic sensors can. With a network of 5300 geophones—devices that convert ground movements into voltage—researchers recorded 1 week’s worth of urban vibrations in a 70-km2 area of Long Beach, California. By analyzing the seismic data, they could measure how fast individual trains were moving between stations, count the number of planes landing and taking off at the airport, and calculate the average speed of vehicles on a 10-lane highway. Without GPS or cameras, seismic systems could allay privacy concerns by tracking urban activity in an anonymous way."
Link to Original Source

+ - Scientists grow tiny human stomachs in lab dishes->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Because the digestive systems of mice, flies, and other model organisms differ from those of humans, researchers have been hard-pressed to find a way to study the development of human gut maladies such as peptic ulcer disease. So several groups have turned to pluripotent stem cells—cells derived from human embryos or reprogrammed adult cells that can turn into any cell type in the body—to try to grow digestive organs in the lab. Last week, one group of researchers announced the creation of a lab-grown small intestine from stem cells. Today, a different team reports that they’ve perfected the recipe of molecules needed to coax both types of stem cells to grow into small spheres that, despite their size, have all the properties of a functional stomach. When the researchers exposed the ministomachs to the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, infections of which are blamed for many stomach ulcers and cancers, they saw the same molecular and cellular changes already known to occur in life-size stomachs."
Link to Original Source

+ - Drones could 3D-map scores of hectares of land in just a few hours->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Unmanned drones aren’t just for warfare. In recent years, they’ve been used to map wildlife and monitor crop growth. But current software can’t always handle the vast volume of images they gather. Now, researchers have developed an algorithm that will allow drones to 3D-map scores of hectares of land in less than a day—an advance that is important for cost-effective farming, disaster relief, and surveillance operations.

Their computer program directly projects the points from each photo onto a 3D space without knowing the exact shape of the land or the camera positions. As a result, the tie points don’t necessarily match up, which means the same corn plant can have two projections on the model. When that happens, the algorithm automatically takes the middle point between the two projections as the more accurate location and adjusts the camera position accordingly, one image at a time. Because the algorithm tweaks far fewer things at each step, the shortcut drastically speeds up calculations. Once the software has adjusted the camera positions for all the photos, the software repeats the entire process—starting from projecting the points to the 3D space—to correct for any errors."

Link to Original Source

+ - Avalanche on an asteroid, due to close pass with Earth->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "On Friday the 13th in April 2029, a football field–sized asteroid named Apophis is expected to pass, with luck, within a hair’s breadth of Earth. The space rock won’t do any damage to Earth—it’s predicted to pass at a safe distance of at least 35,000 kilometers—but the reverse may not be true. A new study finds that the near miss could trigger tiny avalanches on Apophis."
Link to Original Source

+ - Taking the census, with cellphones->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "If you want to figure out how many people live in a particular part of your country, you could spend years conducting home visits and mailing out questionnaires. But a new study describes a quicker way. Scientists have figured out how to map populations using cellphone records—an approach that doesn’t just reveal who lives where, but also where they go every day. The researchers also compared their results to population density data gathered through remote sensing technologies, a widely used method that relies on satellite imaging to gather detailed information on population settlement patterns and estimate population counts. They found that the two methods are comparable in accuracy when checked against actual survey-based census data, but estimates from mobile phone data can provide more timely information, down to the hours."
Link to Original Source

+ - Asteroid impact would barely slow down human population growth->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "An asteroid impact that wiped out hundreds of millions of people would barely slow down human population growth, according to a new computer model. When the model population lost half a billion people, the total population was still 9.9 to 10.4 billion people by 2100. Two factors did have an impact on human population growth: eliminating unwanted pregnancies, which make up about 16% of all live births, and adopting a global one-child policy. Eliminating those births year after year resulted in population sizes in 2050 and 2100 that are comparable to those produced with a global one-child policy—about 8 billion and 7 billion, respectively."
Link to Original Source

+ - Algal virus found in humans, slows brain activity->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "It’s not such a stretch to think that humans can catch the Ebola virus from monkeys and the flu virus from pigs. After all, they are all mammals with fundamentally similar physiologies. But now researchers have discovered that even a virus found in the lowly algae can make mammals its home. The invader doesn’t make people or mice sick, but it does seem to slow specific brain activities. The virus, initially spotted in the throats of people with psychiatric disease, seems to reduce attention span and visual acuity."
Link to Original Source

+ - Virus resurrected from 700-year-old caribou dung->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "After drilling ice core containing thousands of years of accumulated caribou dung, scientists have recovered the complete genome of a DNA virus and the partial genome of an RNA virus from frozen feces dated to 700 years old. Genetic sequencing identified the RNA genome as a member of the insect-infecting Cripavirus genus, but the DNA viral genome was more mysterious: It was unlike any sequenced present-day viruses, but distantly related to plant-infecting geminiviruses. So the researchers reconstructed the DNA virus and introduced it to Nicotiana benthamiana, a close relative of tobacco that’s vulnerable to a diverse range of plant viruses. The resurrected virus successfully infected both new leaves and leaves inoculated with the virus. The researchers suggest that the viruses may have originated in plants eaten by the caribou or in flying insects attracted to their feces. As Arctic ice melts faster with climate change, it could release ancient viral particles into the environment—some of which could remain infectious, the team warns."
Link to Original Source

+ - Creationists stage "back door" conference at U.S. university->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A creationist conference set for a major research campus — Michigan State University (MSU) in East Lansing — is creating unease among some of the school’s students and faculty, which includes several prominent evolutionary biologists. The 1 November event, called the Origins Summit, is sponsored by Creation Summit, an Oklahoma-based nonprofit Christian group that believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible and was founded to “challenge evolution and all such theories predicated on chance.” The one-day conference will include eight workshops, according the event’s website, including discussion of how evolutionary theory influenced Adolf Hitler’s worldview, why “the Big Bang is fake,” and why “natural selection is NOT evolution.” News of the event caught MSU’s scientific community largely by surprise. Creation Summit secured a room at the university’s business school through a student religious group, but the student group did not learn about the details of the program—or the sometimes provocative talk titles — until later,"
Link to Original Source

+ - A Breathalyzer for dolphins->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A dolphin’s breath can say a lot about its health. A sulfurous whiff suggests digestive trouble; a sweet scent means pneumonia. Veterinarians often rely on their own noses to detect these differences, but they may soon get some help from modern science. Researchers have developed a technique for detecting hundreds of chemical compounds in the animals’ exhalations. The advance could eventually lead to a Breathalyzer of sorts for dolphins and other animals that could measure a suite of health parameters far more easily and less stressfully than current diagnostic methods do."
Link to Original Source

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.

Working...