Biologist Colleen Handel saw her first black-capped chickadee with the heartrending disorder in 1998. The tiny birds showed up at birdfeeders in Alaska's largest city with freakishly long beaks. Some beaks looked like sprung scissors, unable to come together at the tips. Others curved up or down like crossed sickles. Handel, a U.S. Geological Survey bird specialist, was sure the cause of avian keratin disorder would be found quickly: contaminated birdseed, a poison targeting spruce bark beetles, maybe some sort of bacterium or fungus. Years went by. She found herself losing sleep over a mysterious ailment afflicting 6.5 percent of south-central Alaska's black-capped chickadees and 17 percent
A University of Maine professor has died while conducting research in Antarctica. The university says 50-year-old Gordon Hamilton died Saturday when the snowmobile he was riding hit a crevasse and he fell 100 feet. He had been in Antarctica doing research for the National Science Foundation. His work focused on the role of ice and glaciers in the climate system. Hamilton began working at the University of Maine's Climate Change Institute in 2000. He served as an assistant research professor, taught undergraduate and graduate courses and worked with a statewide initiative on science, technology, engineering and math programs for high school students. UMaine provost Jeffery Hecker released a statement
On Sunday evening, Elon Musk, the billionaire tech mogul and nerd hero behind Tesla Motors, hosted a special two-hour Q&A session on Reddit. The AMA, which lasted roughly two hours, was intended as a supplement to the presentation he gave on during last month’s International Astronautical Congress. Which, in turn, meant questions were limited to the fledgling commercial rocket program, and Interplanetary Transport System, not Musk's electric car company or recently consolidated renewable energy firm, SolarCity.
Telling little fibs leads down a slippery slope to bigger lies — and our brains adapt to escalating dishonesty, which makes deceit easier, a new study shows. Neuroscientists at the University College London's Affective Brain Lab put 80 people in scenarios where they could repeatedly lie and get paid more based on the magnitude of their lies. The researchers then used brain scans to show that our mind's emotional hot spot — the amygdala — becomes desensitized or used to the growing dishonesty, according to a study published online Monday in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
One of the biggest accomplishments that a professor can achieve is reaching tenure, a process that is surely expedited by having your paper recognized by a scientific conference. Unfortunately, how Christoph Bartneck got to that point leaves more questions than answers, reports The Guardian. An associate professor at the Human Interface Technology laboratory at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, Bartneck received an invitation from the International Conference on Atomic and Nuclear Physics.
An appeals court panel on Monday ruled that a federal agency acted reasonably in proposing to list a certain population of bearded seals threatened by sea ice loss. The decision by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco reverses a lower court ruling that found the decision by the National Marine Fisheries Service was improper. At issue was whether the fisheries service can protect species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act when it determines that a currently non-endangered species will lose habitat due to climate change in coming decades.
By Andrew M. Seaman (Reuters Health) - Children's brains undergo noticeable changes after just one season of football, even if they were never diagnosed with a concussion, according to a new imaging study. While there is no way to know whether the changes may lead to health problems down the road, the researchers found that the degree of change seen in the brain's white matter tracts was tied to the amount of exposure a child had to head impacts during play. "It’s really another study that suggests there are changes in the brain associated with all of these head impacts," said lead author Dr. Christopher Whitlow, of the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
The "Bermuda Triangle" is the stuff of legend — in both senses of the word. The area of the Atlantic Ocean between Florida, Puerto Rico, and Bermuda has seen its share, or maybe more than its share, of mysterious disappearances of ships and aircraft, leading to a popular theory that some paranormal force is at work in the triangular body of water. Two meteorologists tell the Science Channel that hexagonal cloud patterns, 20 to 55 miles across, are likely to blame for the Bermuda Triangle phenomenon. "These types of hexagonal shapes over the ocean are in essence, 'air bombs,'" said Dr. Randy Cerveny at Arizona State University. "They're formed by what are called microbursts. They're blasts of
Parents who are unsure of the answer can turn to a new set of guidelines put forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The new recommendations outline how much time kids — ranging from infants to adolescents — can spend watching TV and engaging with other media that involves using a screen. "Families should proactively think about their children’s media use and talk with children about it, because too much media use can mean that children don’t have enough time during the day to play, study, talk or sleep," Dr. Jenny Radesky, a pediatrician at the University of Michigan and a co-author of the new recommendations, said in a statement.
Pro- and anti-whaling nations clashed at a key meeting Monday where Japan sought to ease a 30-year-old moratorium on commercial hunts while others pushed for an Atlantic whale sanctuary. Host Slovenia urged compromise the sake of the marine mammals -- some species of which were hunted to near-extinction in the 20th century -- but member states of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) soon split into familiar factions. Japan, which conducts a yearly whale hunt in the name of science, which its detractors say is for meat, insisted that stocks of some species have recovered sufficiently to make them fair game.
Dominant hand preference in humans is a trait that scientists are still trying to understand, but new evidence may show that whatever its purpose, the existence of dominant hands might stretch back way further than previously thought. A study published in Journal of Human Evolution finds proof for right handedness in Homo habilis, a pre-human homo species that existed 1.8 million years ago. "This is an exciting paper because it strongly suggests right-handed tool use in early Homo around 1.8 million years ago," Debra Guatelli-Steinberg, an anthropologist at the Ohio State University, told Christian Science Monitor.
TUCSON, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- Researchers say ancient graves unearthed in the American Southwest suggest the region played host to violent tribal feuds thousands of years ago. A new study -- published this week in the journal Current Anthropology -- details the discovery of several dozen bodies found unceremoniously deposited in burial sites between 2100 B.C. and A.D. 50. The burial sites were unearthed in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico and featured many who had met violent ends. The remains also showed evidence of post-mortem injuries, likely inflicted as they were tossed haphazardly into the grave pits. Over several years, James Watson -- lead author of the new study and
Famed billionaire and wannabe space cadet Elon Musk took to Reddit to do a surprise AMA yesterday. It was supposed to be a follow-up to SpaceX's recent announcement about how it plans to return Elon Musk to his place of birth, and also create a permanent Mars colony along the way. Given that Musk insisted questions stick on the topic of SpaceX and its recent announcement, much of the conversation was centered around highly technical details.
The six-person crew of astronauts in the International Space Station rested easy after they successfully received supplies totaling more than 5,100 pounds (2,300 kilograms) this morning. The Cygnus cargo spacecraft, developed by American aerospace manufacturer Orbital ATK Inc., was captured by the ISS’ robotic arm at 7:28 a.m. EDT (1128 GMT) today. The ship, named the S.S. Alan Poindexter in honor of the late NASA astronaut Alan Poindexter, carried materials for science experiments and other supplies for the crew.
The third-largest earthquake in Oklahoma was likely triggered by underground disposal of wastewater from oil and natural gas production, the U.S. Geological Survey found in a report issued Monday. The magnitude 5.1 quake that struck northwest of Fairview in February was likely induced by distant disposal wells, the agency said. The USGS report indicated that in the area around where the Fairview quake occurred, the volume of fluid injected had increased sevenfold over three years.
Think autism and an image of an awkward boy typically emerges. The developmental disorder is at least four times more common in boys, but scientists taking a closer look are finding some gender-based surprises: Many girls with autism have social skills that can mask the condition. The gender effect is a hot topic in autism research and one that could lead to new ways of diagnosing and treating a condition that affects at least 1 in 68 U.S. children.
Google has a new doodle on their homepage today, celebrating the, er, 384th birthday of Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, the Dutch textile salesman considered the first microbiologist. Van Leeuwenhoek designed a single-lens microscope which he used to observe what he famously called "little animals" - single cell organisms that we now know as bacteria and other microbes. The famous phrase came from a letter to the Royal Society of London, in which van Leeuwenhoek marveled at what he had seen in a sample of water from a nearby lake. On its Doodle page, Google says, "In his rooms on the Market Square in Delft, Netherlands, van Leeuwenhoek was a DIY-er supreme.
The national group last week unveiled a new set of guidelines that allow for certain types of media use by younger children and set broader parameters for older kids to keep them well-rested, physically active and socially engaged. "Parents can set expectations and boundaries to make sure their children's media experience is a positive one," she said. The AAP's recommendations were published online Friday in the journal Pediatrics.
Government support and lower costs will power stronger-than-expected global growth in renewable energy over the next five years, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said Tuesday. After a record 2015, global renewable electricity capacity will grow by 825 gigawatts by 2021, a massive 42-percent rise, the IEA said. The IEA has been criticised in some quarters for being over-cautious about renewables.
Sixty-eight may not seem that old, but for Snooty the manatee, it's a world record. Snooty is now the world's oldest manatee living in captivity, the Guinness World Records recently announced. The sea cow was brought to South Florida Museum as an 11-month-old calf in 1949.
After two years in operation, the satellite-imaging startup Planet tells Quartz that it is now photographing more than 50 million square kilometers of the earth every single day. Indeed, in September 2016 alone, the company says it imaged 91% of earth’s land mass. Planet’s plan is to make that imagery available to the public, with free basic access and premium accounts for higher quantity and quality data.
Heading a football can significantly affect a player's brain function and memory up to a day, a study by researchers at Scotland's Stirling University has said. Researchers fired footballs from a machine designed to replicate a corner kick and asked a group of players to head the ball 20 times. "We found there was in fact increased inhibition in the brain immediately after heading and that performance on memory tests was reduced significantly," Dr Magdalena Ietswaart, a cognitive neuroscientist at Sterling University, told the BBC on Monday.
The Pentagon is more focused on the supremacy of U.S. satellite technology than how the spacecraft are vaulted into space, at least for now, an official said. That’s one of the reasons military hasn’t yet bought into reusable rocket technology that some experts say could save the department significant cash. During an event Monday hosted by the Center for Strategic & International Studies, Douglas Loverro, deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, was asked how the department might encourage the Air Force to move forward with innovative, reusable rocket technology, instead of the service launching rockets every few months on an expendable
The Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project had intended to find out how quickly water levels rose in the Black Sea after the last Ice Age, but the team ended up discovering a whole lot more than they had bargained for, Quartz reports. While examining the seabeds, the scientists found dozens and dozens of previously undiscovered shipwrecks — 41 in all. "The wrecks are a complete bonus, but a fascinating discovery, found during the course of our extensive geophysical surveys," the project's principal investigator, Jon Adams, said in a statement. Many of the shipwrecks were in spectacular condition due to the low oxygen levels that exist nearly 500 feet below the surface. "Certainly no one has achieved
Many scientists agree that climate change will likely influence the spread of infectious diseases, from mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika to the bacteria found in contaminated food and water. It’s a relationship that’s largely been studied in developing nations, where the cumulative effects of global warming are likely to be more severe. The study finds short-term shifts in climate and weather patterns, brought on by El Niño, have a history of influencing disease outbreaks in the United States — and these temporary changes may give us an important glimpse into what the effects of climate change may bring in the future. “There’s this idea that the vulnerabilities are really only in low-income countries,” said David Fisman, the study’s lead author and a professor of epidemiology and medicine at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health.