Science 2.0

Pareidolia: We're Secretly Judging Face Likeness

Science 2.0 - Jul 31 2018 - 08:07
 If you have seen a face in the clouds or you have been part of a phenomenon called "pareidolia" - a willingness to recognize a non-face object as a human face.

Humans sometimes perceive an inherently meaningless object such as a pattern, landscape or object as another object, one that has meaning. It's why alternative science proponents, the Jeffrey Smith's and Pete Myers of the world, believe in spirit photographs. 

Some have even argued that pareidolia occurs in relatively low-level visual processing, and a new paper examines the relation between behavior when a face-like object is viewed and brain activity to reveal the level of visual processing at which face-likeness is recognized.

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Bees Confused By Iridescent Colors - And What That Means For Camouflage

Science 2.0 - Jul 31 2018 - 08:07
Bumblebee safety alert; don't put holograms in that meadow or near the urban beehive you probably regret buying.  A new study shows that bees, which are already confounded by lots of different things, are mystified by iridescent colors, colors that seem to change based on the angle you view them from. Like bubbles do.

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These Hotspots Can Last For Millions Of Years

Science 2.0 - Jul 31 2018 - 07:07
You may have trouble finding a hotspot in that store you are visiting, but there is one place they are persistent: inside neutron stars. A new study shows that instabilities can create intense magnetic hot spots that survive for millions of years, even after the star's overall magnetic field has decayed significantly. 

When a massive star consumes its nuclear fuel and collapses under its own gravity in a supernova explosion, it can result in a neutron star. These very dense objects have a radius of about 10 kilometers and yet are 1.5 times more massive than the Sun. They have very strong magnetic fields and are rapid rotators, with some neutron stars spinning more than 100 times per second round their axis. 

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After PBDE Flame Retardant Phase-out, Less Exposure To Them, But No Difference In Outcomes

Science 2.0 - Jul 31 2018 - 07:07

In the 1980s, environmentalists and epidemiologists began to statistically correlate attention problems in children and lower scores on tests with flame retardants used in furniture, chemicals that had become popular because parents and fire departments wanted to prevent "flashover" events during house fires - explosions in closed rooms.

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Diversity Of An Ecosystem Is Important, Not Size

Science 2.0 - Jul 31 2018 - 06:07
Though countries like the United States and Ireland have far more forest than they did a century ago, professional environmentalists insist there needs to be more. From butterflies to bees, some groups insist more of the modern world must be reverted to nature, even when it comes to formerly ecologic wins like hydroelectric dams. 

Large ecosystems bring stability, they insist. But that isn't really true. Instead, stability and diversity happen when the ecosystem is complex, not just because it is large. And he branching complexity of rivers are absolutely vital in affecting regional population stability and persistence in nature.

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State Attorneys General File To Block Open Source Information - Because The Info Is A Printed Gun

Science 2.0 - Jul 30 2018 - 15:07
The Attorneys General of Democratic states Washington, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Maryland, New York (plus the District of Columbia) are filing a lawsuit against the Trump administration to block the open source distribution of materials that enable the printing of guns using 3-D printers.

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Picky Eaters Are In Fine Health

Science 2.0 - Jul 30 2018 - 14:07
A recent study in European Journal of Clinical Nutrition finds that picky eaters are healthier.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't encourage kids to try new things, but they are not going to end up unhealthy if they sat at the dinner table for an hour and still didn't eat that cabbage. And it debunks claims that picky eaters are at higher risk of being underweight, with poor growth, or being overweight.

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Large Antarctic Penguin Colony May Have Shrunk 88%

Science 2.0 - Jul 30 2018 - 13:07
The National Nature Reserve of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands is home to the world's biggest colony of king penguins and if satellite images are being interpreted accurately, they have seen a massive 88% reduction in the size of their colony, located on Île aux Cochons, in the Îles Crozet archipelago. If so, the causes of the colony’s collapse remain a mystery but the blame will likely fall on climate change.

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Great Tits Have Same Impulse Control As Chimpanzees

Science 2.0 - Jul 30 2018 - 11:07
Impulse control is associated with larger cognitively advanced animals like humans and other primates, but there are exceptions, like ravens. Now a recent study shows that the great tit, a common European songbird, has a tremendous capacity for self-control - almost the same as chimpanzees. 

Biologists learned this by placing food in a small translucent cylinder. The great tits that started pecking at the cylinder to get to the food failed the test as the behavior was considered an impulsive act. Those that, on the other hand, moved to an opening in the cylinder and thereby were able to access the food without pecking at the cylinder wall passed the test.

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Endophytes: Study Shows GMO Corn Has No Impact On Good Bacteria

Science 2.0 - Jul 30 2018 - 09:07
Bt modification in maize does not affect non-target beneficial microorganisms such as endophytes, according to a new study. This debunks some of the more obscure claims made by activists opposed to genetic engineering (suicides in India being the most bizarre.

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Exoplanets Where Life Could Develop As It Did On Earth

Science 2.0 - Jul 30 2018 - 09:07
Though evidence to-date shows we are the first advanced species, at least in our cosmic neighborhood, that doesn't mean it can't happen elsewhere. It is absolutely likely, because according to one estimate there are as many as 700 million trillion terrestrial planets just in the observable universe.

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Obituary: Why The Guardian Science Blog Deserved To Die

Science 2.0 - Jul 30 2018 - 08:07

In a tweet, the coordinator for the science blog network of the British newspaper The Guardian announced that after eight years, the blog would be closing down.

We're told over and over again just how important science journalism is, usually by science journalists. Clearly, the public disagrees, and they have disagreed for a very long time. When newspapers began shrinking their news rooms many years ago, science reporters were among the first to go.

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Hurricane-Induced Natural Selection: Surviving Lizards Have Different Toes

Science 2.0 - Jul 27 2018 - 13:07
The 2017 hurricane season was one of the most expensive in the Atlantic Ocean region. Hurricane Harvey hit in mid-August 2017, followed just a few weeks later by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria in September. Each of these storms had winds in excess of 125 mph, with Irma up to 170 mph. Damage from totals for the hurricane season topped $282 billion. 

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Better Standards Of Living Have Led To Marine Pollution, Not Too Many Straws

Science 2.0 - Jul 27 2018 - 12:07
American cities nationwide, riding a wave of populism brought about by media attention, are looking to ban straws, claiming they will save the planet doing so. Companies are naturally following suit - companies always will, because consumers pay the cost and if they are happy paying more while giving marketing departments something to promote it is an easy choice.
It is a cultural placebo that will make people feel like they did something important but it is meaningless. Instead, pollution is up because the world is wealthier, rich and relatively poor alike, than ever before. 

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For The Love Of The Internet, Stop Sharing Bullshit

Science 2.0 - Jul 27 2018 - 05:07
There is very little I love more than the world wide web. No, seriously, I mean it.

Internet has changed my life more than any other "thing" around, and it has provided me with an enormous wealth - information, knowledge, simplification of otherwise difficult tasks, ease of access to data, solution to problems, connection with people all over the world, possibility to broadcast and publish. And entertainment, online gaming, music, videos, free porn, free movies, paid movies. I could go on, of course.

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Epidemiologists Link Politics To Bad Teeth

Science 2.0 - Jul 27 2018 - 00:07

Democracies have better teeth than dictatorships, according to recent statistical correlation presented at the 96th General Session of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) in London, held in conjunction with the IADR Pan European Regional (PER) Congress.

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Einstein's Theory Of General Relativity Survives Another Challenge

Science 2.0 - Jul 26 2018 - 15:07
The effects predicted by Einstein’s general relativity on the motion of a star passing through the extreme gravitational field have been validated near the supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way.
Obscured by thick clouds of absorbing dust, the closest supermassive black hole to the Earth lies 26 000 light-years away at the centre of the Milky Way. This gravitational monster, which has a mass four million times that of the Sun, is surrounded by a small group of stars orbiting around it at high speed. This extreme environment — the strongest gravitational field in our galaxy — makes it the perfect place to explore gravitational physics, and particularly to test Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

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Guest Post: Eleni Petrakou, A Model Of The Solar Cycle

Science 2.0 - Jul 25 2018 - 10:07
[Eleni Petrakou, Ph.D., is a physicist and an independent researcher, besides being a longtime follower of this blog. After a past collaboration with the CMS experiment, she has recently become intrigued with the dynamics of the Sun, and she developed a model to try and predict the solar cycle, a 11-year variation of the activity of sunspots and solar flares whose origin is still debated. I asked her to describe the matter for this blog, and the text below is the result - TD]


DESCRIBING THE SOLAR CYCLE

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UNESCO Adds 34 Sites To Biosphere Reserves

Science 2.0 - Jul 25 2018 - 08:07
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) branch of the United Nations has added 24 new sites to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, bring the total number to 686.
Biosphere reserves are sites hoping to couple conservation of biodiversity and human activity by promoting use of natural resources - which is a fuzzy term for fuzzy sustainable development practices.
The new biosphere reserves are (in alphabetical order of countries):

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Would Your Dog Help You Stop Being Upset? Apparently Yes

Science 2.0 - Jul 24 2018 - 08:07
While cats are generally regarded as being aloof and uncaring, dogs are called "man's best friend." They are in tune with our emotions, it is said. "Lassie" had a level of connection with her humans that only television could write, but there has always been anecdotal evidence that dogs will do whatever they can to help.

A new experiment shows that not only do dogs care if their owner is upset, they will overcome obstacles in a hurry to provide aid. The results in Learning&Behavior showed that dogs with strong bonds to their owners hurried to pushed through a door when they heard their person crying. 

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