Category: News Posts

In A Bonobo World, Ladies Get To Choose Their Mates

bonobo

It seems like the tendency to want to mate with the most attractive male extends beyond humans and into the animal kingdom.

A new study has found that certain male bonobos have a strong advantage when it comes to fathering offspring – which researchers suggest could come down to how attractive they are.




Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig have studied a population of bonobos in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

They discovered that despite friendly relations between the sexes, particular males have a surprisingly strong advantage over others when it comes to fathering offspring.

bonobo

For example, in one group, the most successful bonobo male fathered more than 60 percent of the next generation. The findings show that the reproductive skew is much higher in bonobos than it is in chimpanzees – which are known for being more aggressive.

While the reasons remain unverified, the researchers suspect that it may come down to a tendency for many females to choose to mate with the same attractive male.

bonobo

Dr Martin Surbeck, who led the study, said: “The funny thing under such a scenario would be that most of the females would have the same preference for Camillo, the alpha male of the bonobos at our research site.”

Bonobos are known for their friendly nature and lack of aggression, and males are often seen investing in friendly relationships with females.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: Popular Science

Will An App A Day Keep The Doctor Away?

health app

With a big assist from technology, Americans are driving a major transformation of the nation’s health care system.

Recent years have brought us the passage of the Affordable Care Act, technology advances in sensors and devices, cheaper personal genomics, and the growth of the mobile app market. And all these things are empowering consumers to take control and become CEOs of their own health.

The rapid adoption of connected mobile devices is enabling the shift from a sickcare nation to a preventative care nation with big potential savings at stake.




This monumental shift in the way Americans approach health care comes just in the nick of time: as a nation, we badly need a kick in the behind.

More than two-thirds of American adults are now overweight or obese. According to one forecast, by 2020 more than half of us will be pre-diabetic or diabetic, creating a $500 billion annual drag on the economy.

But solutions are coming. And it starts with your mobile phone.

Before long, all of those devices will be sending real-time data about you to your doctors, nutritionists and trainers. Subjective medical findings will be bolstered by cold, hard stats on the continuous state of your health.

health app

In short, we’re headed for a world of truly personalized medicine, practiced from a central hub in the cloud.

Today, mobile apps are already solving health problems and providing personalized advice and communities. It is early days but you can see the potential. Here are some examples:

HealthTap is creating a mobile “triage” system, where consumers can ask doctors questions and find out the most effective way to get specific care.

Diabetic? Welldoc recently rolled out BlueStar, a doctor-prescribed app that offers coaching.

health app

Have asthma? Try the Asthmapolis sensor which passively logs your data via Bluetooth LE and gives you personalized feedback and education on how to control your asthma.

Having trouble getting pregnant? Glow will help you track your cycle and tell you the exact best time and how to get pregnant increasing your odds of success.

MyFitnessPal is teaching consumers a new way to track their nutritional intake and lose weight. Personal trainers will tell you nutrition is 80% of the battle in maintaining a healthy lifestyle that can ward off diabetes, heart disease – even cancer.

The core of the digital healthcare revolution will be day-to-day tracking of personal stats, also known as the quantified self. Many companies are trying to be this central health and fitness hub, including insurance companies.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: New Scientist

Forget About Shots, Allergy Sufferers Can Now Find Relief In Toothpaste

If you have bad allergies you’ve probably been told that allergy shots are the best way to get relief.

But most people don’t like needles, and going to the doctor for a shot every week can be time consuming.

As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez explained, there is a new way to treat your allergies, and it’s toothpaste. Not just any toothpaste, but a custom blended toothpaste with the same extracts that are in allergy shots.

It turns out the mucus membranes of the mouth are a really good way to show allergens to the immune system so it stops over reacting to things like pollen or mold.




Daniel Siefring is a year round allergy sufferer. He reacts to pollen and lots of other things too.

It turns out you can add the same allergens in drops to toothpaste.

Reisacher, an allergy specialist, compared the two approaches in a recently published study and found that they produced similar allergy relief, but that toothpaste was used more consistently.

The prescription kit is completely customized, the doctor or pharmacy adds in exactly what you’re allergic to, blends it into the toothpaste, and puts it into a handy pump.

Peanuts: the ultimate frenemy.

Now, Siefring treats his allergies with his usual morning routine, and no the paste doesn’t taste like cat, mold, or pollen.

Users have to brush for two minutes, which is what dentists recommend anyway.

Unfortunately, the toothpaste is not covered by health insurance. The cost works out to about $3 to $5 a day, so skipping the mocha frappucino in the morning could make your miserable allergy symptoms get better.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: Popular Science

800-Year-Old ‘Made In China’ Label Reveals The Lost History Of An Ancient Shipwreck

An 800-year-old ‘Made in China’ label has revealed the lost history of a shipwreck and its cargo.

The ship sank in the Java Sea, off the coast of Indonesia, hundreds of years ago, and the wooden hull disintegrated over time, leaving only a treasure trove of cargo.

The mystery ship had been carrying thousands of ceramics and luxury goods for trade, and they remained on the ocean floor until the 1980s when the wreck was discovered by fishermen.

Since then, archaeologists have been studying artifacts retrieved from the shipwreck to piece together where the ship was from and when it departed.

And findings published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, reveal how the equivalent of a ‘Made in China’ label on a piece of pottery helped researchers reevaluate when the ship went down and how it fits in with China’s history.

Study lead author Doctor Lisa Niziolek, an archaeologist at the Field Museum in Chicago, said: “Initial investigations in the 1990s dated the shipwreck to the mid- to late 13th Century, but we’ve found evidence that it’s probably a century older than that.




Eight hundred years ago, someone put a label on these ceramics that essentially says ‘Made in China’ – because of the particular place mentioned, we’re able to date this shipwreck better.

The ship was carrying ceramics marked with an inscription that might indicate they were made in Jianning Fu, a government district in China.

But after the invasion of the Mongols around 1278, the area was reclassified as Jianning Lu.

The slight change in the name tipped Dr Niziolek and her colleagues off that the shipwreck may have occurred earlier than the late 1200s, as early as 1162.

Dr Niziolek noted that the likelihood of a ship in the later “Jianning Lu” days carrying old pottery with the outdated name is slim.

She said: “There were probably about a hundred thousand pieces of ceramics onboard.

It seems unlikely a merchant would have paid to store those for long prior to shipment – they were probably made not long before the ship sank.

The ship was also carrying elephant tusks for use in medicine or art and sweet-smelling resin for use in incense or for caulking ships.

Dr Niziolek said both the tusks and the resin were critical to re-dating the wreck.

The resins and the tusks come from living things, and all living things contain carbon. A type of carbon atom called C-14 is unstable and decays relatively steadily over time.

Scientists can use the amount of C-14 in a sample to determine how old it is.

The analysis, known as radiocarbon dating, had been done decades ago and pointed to the shipwreck being about 700 to 750-years-old.

But Dr Niziolek said analytical techniques have improved, and the scientists wanted to see if the date held.

The amount of decayed carbon found in the resins and tusks revealed that the cargo was older than previously thought.

When taken together with the place name inscribed on the ceramics, stylistic analysis of ceramics from known time periods, and input from experts overseas, the researchers concluded that the shipwreck was indeed older than previously thought -somewhere in the region of 800 years old.

Dr Niziolek said: “When we got the results back and learned that the resin and tusk samples were older than previously thought, we were excited.

We had suspected that based on inscriptions on the ceramics and conversations with colleagues in China and Japan, and it was great to have all these different types of data coming together to support it.”

She said the fact that the shipwreck happened 800 years ago instead of 700 years ago is a big deal for archaeologists.

Dr Niziolek said: “This was a time when Chinese merchants became more active in maritime trade, more reliant upon oversea routes than on the overland Silk Road.

“The shipwreck occurred at a time of important transition.”

She added: “The salvage company Pacific Sea Resources recovered these artifacts in the 1990s, and they donated them to the Field Museum for education and research.

There’s often a stigma around doing research with artifacts salvaged by commercial companies, but we’ve given this collection a home and have been able to do all this research with it.

It’s really great that we’re able to use new technology to re-examine really old materials. These collections have a lot of stories to tell and should not be entirely discounted.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it in on: Popular Science

Net Neutrality Is Not “Officially Dead,” Today

There have been a lot of inaccurate reports that the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality will officially go into effect last April 23rd. That’s not true. It’s a bit more complicated than that.

It’s understandable many journalists are confused by this. It’s legitimately confusing. The FCC order said it would go into effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, which would have been April 23rd.

But, it still has to be approved by the Office of Management & Budget.

The most important thing for EVERYONE to understand is that nothing catastrophic or dramatic is going to happen immediately when the FCC rules go into effect.

Telecom shills will immediately start saying “See? The sky didn’t fall, we never needed Net Neutrality.” They’re lying.




The ISPs aren’t going to immediately start blocking content or rolling out paid prioritization scams. They know Congress and the public are watching them.

Rather, the death of net neutrality will be slow and insidious. You might not even notice it at first.

And that’s the worst part. What will happen is over time ISP scams and abuses will become more commonplace and more accepted.

They’ll roll out new schemes that appear good on their face but undermine the free market of ideas by allowing ISPs to pick winners and losers.

Over time we’ll see less awesome startups. Less awesome videos. Less diverse online content. And we’ll see more content that our ISPs want us to see.

The Internet will be watered down and manipulated. It will change forever in ways that harm our democracy. But it will take time.

So don’t fall for ISP lobbyists talking points. They’re ALREADY claiming that net neutrality was never needed since the sky hasn’t fallen, and the rules haven’t even gone into effect.

But also don’t panic. The Internet is not going to die next week. Keep calm and keep fighting. The Senate will vote in a matter of weeks on a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to block the FCC’s repeal. Now is the moment to get engaged.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: Popular Science

MIT Invented A Tool That Allows Driverless Cars To Navigate Rural Roads Without A Map

Google has spent the last 13 years mapping every corner and crevice of the world.

Car makers haven’t got nearly as long a lead time to perfect the maps that will keep driverless cars from sliding into ditches or hitting misplaced medians if they want to meet their optimistic deadlines.

This is especially true in rural areas where mapping efforts tend to come last due to smaller demand versus cities.

It’s also a more complicated task, due to a lack of infrastructure (i.e. curbs, barriers, and signage) that computers would normally use as reference points.

That’s why a student at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) is developing new technology, called MapLite, that eliminates the need for maps in self-driving car technology altogether.




This could more easily enable a fleet-sharing model that connects carless rural residents and would facilitate intercity trips that run through rural areas.

In a paper posted online on May 7 by CSAIL and project partner Toyota, 30-year-old PhD candidate Teddy Ort—along with co-authors Liam Paull and Daniela Rus—detail how using LIDAR and GPS together can enable self-driving cars to navigate on rural roads without having a detailed map to guide them.

The team was able to drive down a number of unpaved roads in rural Massachusetts and reliably scan the road for curves and obstacles up to 100 feet ahead, according to the paper.

Our method makes no assumptions about road markings and only minimal assumptions about road geometry,” wrote the authors in their paper.

Once the technology is perfected, proponents argue that autonomous cars could also help improve safety on rural roads by reducing the number of impaired and drowsy drivers, eliminating speeding, and detecting and reacting to obstacles even on pitch-black roads.

Ort’s algorithm isn’t commercializable yet; he hasn’t yet tested his algorithm in a wide variety of road conditions and elevations.

Still, if only from an economic perspective it’s clear repeatedly visually capturing millions of miles of roads to train cars how to drive autonomously isn’t going to be winning mapping technology for AVs; it’s just not feasible for most organizations.

Whether it’s Ort’s work, or end-to-end machine learning, or some other technology that wins the navigation race for autonomous vehicles, it’s important to remember that maps are first and foremost a visual tool to aid sighted people in figuring out where to go.

Like humans, a car may not necessarily need to “see” to get to where it’s going—it just needs to sharpen its other senses.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: Popular Science

NASA Is Actually Sending A Helicopter To Mars

NASA will include a small, autonomous helicopter in the agency’s upcoming Mars 2020 rover mission, officials announced today (May 11).

The craft will undergo a 30-day test campaign once it reaches the Red Planet to demonstrate the viability of travel above the Martian surface with a heavier-than-air craft.

NASA has a proud history of firsts,” NASA’s administrator, Jim Bridenstine, said in a statement.

“The idea of a helicopter flying the skies of another planet is thrilling. The Mars Helicopter holds much promise for our future science, discovery and exploration missions to Mars.”

The Mars Helicopter’s development began in 2013 at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California. It’s just under 4 lbs. (1.8 kilograms), and its body is about the size of a softball, NASA officials said in the statement.




It will carry solar cells to charge up in the light of the sun and a heating mechanism to endure cold nights on the Red Planet.

The helicopter’s twin blades will whirl at about 10 times the rate of a helicopter’s blades on Earth — at 3,000 rpm — to stay aloft in Mars’ thin atmosphere.

Mars 2020 is slated to launch in July of that year on United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and the mission should arrive at Mars in February 2021.

The six-wheeled rover will hunt for signs of habitable environments as well as sites that may have once hosted microbial life, examining the Red Planet with 23 cameras, a microphone and a drill to collect samples.

The helicopter will ride to Mars attached to the rover’s belly pan, officials said.

Once the rover reaches the planet’s surface, it will place the helicopter on the ground and move to a safe distance to relay commands; controllers on Earth will direct it to take its first autonomous flight.

The helicopter will attempt up to five flights, going farther and operating for longer each time — up to a few hundred meters and 90 seconds, officials said. It will also climb to 10 feet (3 m) and hover for about 30 seconds.

The Mars Helicopter is considered a high-risk, high-reward project, according to NASA: If the helicopter fails, it won’t affect the rest of the Mars 2020 rover’s mission, but if it succeeds, the agency will have a powerful new tool to survey the planet and access currently unreachable locations.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: Popular Science

You Probably Don’t Need A New Computer — Here’s Why

Computer shopping is fun for a select group of people and a big hassle for everybody else. There are plenty of terms you need to know, plus PC components you have to think about and computer-buying mistakes you need to avoid.

You’ll have to determine exactly what you need out of a new machine — you’ll need to think about the hardware you want and the software you need.

It’s also important to figure out when you should buy a new computer, both in terms of seasonal sales and product upgrade cycles.




But you also need to know when you really need a new computer and when you’re just itching to upgrade a machine that may work just fine for another year or two.

Read on to check out some of the reasons why you may not need a new computer as soon as you think.

You may be surprised to figure out that you actually can wait to spend all that money (and save the hassle of computer shopping for another day).

1. Your old computer is working fine

We all want the latest gadgets. They’re fun to read about and even more fun to get our hands on. But if you don’t need a ton of power to perform most of your computing tasks, chances are good your old computer is still working fine.

Checking email, editing documents, and browsing aren’t typically tasks that demand a lot of power from your computer.

Even if your computer is slower than it was when you first got it, chances are good that it isn’t sluggish enough to really slow you down.

2. You haven’t been maintaining your old computer

If your primary reason for shopping for a new computer is that your old one is too slow, then you may want to make sure that the slowness isn’t fixable.

Have you been running antivirus scans? And have you been uninstalling unneeded software? How about clearing out unneeded files to free up hard drive space?

Have you made sure that only the programs you need are starting up when you turn on the computer? And have you been keeping the operating system and all the apps you use up to date?

If you’ve been neglecting your computer, you should perform some much-needed maintenance before deciding it’s time for a new computer.

3. You can speed up your old computer

There are many reasons that your old computer may be running slow. But as it turns out, there are also some easy ways to speed up a slow computer.

You can make sure that your operating system and other software are updated. Or, you can clear out the clutter that accumulates over time.  You can also free up some hard drive space, and even check for spyware.

The point is that before you throw in the towel and give up on your old computer, it’s probably worth it to make sure that you can’t speed it up with an hour or two of maintenance.

You can even completely reinstall the operating system and start fresh with the computer you already have.

There’s one more practical reason to put off buying a new computer — to avoid the annoyance of setting up a new computer.

Unless you’re truly a computer nerd (and if you are, you probably aren’t looking for reasons to avoid buying a new computer), setup is annoying.

It can get time-consuming to do correctly and often involves uninstalling a lot of bloatware.

If you aren’t going to see much in the way of performance improvements or new functionality with a new computer, you may want to wait until the hassle of setting up a new machine is really worth it.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: Popular Science

180 Million-Year-Old Crocodile Had Dolphin-Like Features, Tells Tale Of ‘Missing Link’

The discovery of an ancient type of crocodile that lived during the Jurassic Period, at the height of the age of dinosaurs, has shed new light on the species.

The 180 million-year-old fossil, named Magyarosuchus fitosi, shows that some ancient crocodiles evolved to have dolphin-like features.

The fossil was analyzed recently and found to have abnormal vertebra in its tail fin, effectively combining two different families of crocodiles – one that had limbs for walking on the surface and a bone-like protective armor on its back and one that had tail fins and flippers to aid with swimming in the ancient seas.




This fossil provides a unique insight into how crocodiles began evolving into dolphin and killer whale-like forms more than 180 million years ago,” Dr. Mark Young, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, said in a statement.

The presence of both bony armour and a tail fin highlights the remarkable diversity of Jurassic-era crocodiles.

The new finding was made after the team of paleontologists analyzed the bones, which had been kept at a museum in Budapest. The fossil was originally discovered in Hungary in the Gerecse Mountains.

With an estimated body length of 4.67–4.83 m [15 feet – 16 feet] M. fitosi is the largest known non-metriorhynchid metriorhynchoid,” the study’s abstract reads.

The abstract continues: “The combination of retaining heavy dorsal and ventral armors and having a slight hypocercal tail is unique, further highlighting the mosaic manner of marine adaptations in Metriorhynchoidea.”

In addition, the newly-discovered species had large, pointed teeth, used to grasp prey, the statement added.

The study was published on May 10, in PeerJ, a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: Popular Science

The Eruption Of Kilauea Could Be So Terrifyingly Deadly

A “short-lived explosion” on May 9, 2018, caused by rocks falling into the lava lake. The lava lake is still above the water table at this point.

Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano has already shocked the world by sending massive walls of lava into houses and eating up cars, and spreading acid rain across the island. But that might just be the beginning.

Experts fear that the complex system underneath the volcano could be about to reach a new stage, which could see a blanket of ash and boulders the size of fridges thrown out of the volcano.

If those things are thrown out, they could easily kill the people below them. As such, people are being advised to stay out of closed areas of the national park that surrounds the volcano, where they should be safe.

If it goes up, it will come down,” said Charles Mandeville. “You don’t want to be underneath anything that weighs 10 tons when it’s coming out at 120 mph (193 kph).

The explosion will be so dramatic because of the structure of the volcano. Recent events have been changing the make-up of the volcano – and bringing about the explosive situation.




The lava lake in the volcano is in a rapid retreat – as shown in pictures released by the USGS this week. If it keeps going down, as it has done quickly, then it could trigger a run of events that would bring about ballistic effects.

In little more than a week, the top of the lava lake has gone from spilling over the crater to almost 970 feet (295 meters) below the surface as of Thursday morning, Mandeville said.

The lava levels in the lake are dropping because lava is spewing out of cracks elsewhere in the mountain, lowering the pressure that filled the lava lake.

The fear is that it will go below the underground water table — another 1,000 feet further down — and that would trigger a chain of events that could lead to a “very violent” steam explosion, Mandeville said.

At the current rate of change, that is about six or seven days away.

Once the lava drops, rocks that had been superheated could fall into the lava tube. And once the lava drops below the water table, water hits rocks that are as hot as almost 1,200-degrees Celsius and flashes into steam.

When the water hits the lava, it also steams. And the dropped rocks hold that steam in until it blows.

A similar 1924 explosion threw pulverized rock, ash and steam as high as 5.4 miles into the sky, for a couple of weeks.

If another blast happens, the danger zone could extend about 3 miles around the summit, land all inside the national park, Mandeville said.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: Popular Science