After more than 25 years of studying the calls of prairie dog in the field, one researcher
managed to decode just what these animals are saying
. And the results
show that prairie dogs aren't only extremely effective communicators, they also pay close attention to detail.
Is Psychometric g a Myth?
- "As an online discussion about IQ or general intelligence grows longer, the probability of someone linking to statistician Cosma Shalizi's essay g, a Statistical Myth
approaches 1. Usually the link is accompanied by an assertion to the effect that Shalizi offers a definitive refutation of the concept of general mental ability, or psychometric g
." [more inside]
"Experimental adaptation of an influenza H5 HA confers respiratory droplet transmission to a reassortant H5 HA/H1N1 virus in ferrets."
After an extensive
, months-long debate
, one of two controversial
papers showing ways the H5N1 "avian" influenza virus could potentially become transmissible in mammals with only 3 or 4 mutations was published
today. The journal included an editorial on the merits and drawbacks of "publishing risky research
" with regard to biosafety. The debate included an unprecedented recommendation by The US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) to block publication -- a decision they later reversed.
's special report
has additional articles, including interviews with the teams behind both papers.
A new study
suggests that humanity's sense of fair play and kindness towards strangers is determined by culture, not genetics
. Speculation: the finding may be directly related to the rise of religion
in human history, as well as more complex economies
). [more inside]
What can jump 4 feet straight up
, births identical quadruplet pups
nearly every time, can curl itself into an armor-plated ball
, walk underwater
for up to six minutes and can swallow air until it bloats to double its size to float? [more inside]
A NOAA report
says Earth's surface and atmosphere
are both warming
, and that earlier work that found otherwise contains flaws. In other news, global warming has started
to weaken an important wind circulation pattern over the Pacific Ocean, a study suggests. The change could alter climate and the marine food chain in that area; polar bears
and walrus pups
Searchable Ornithological Research Archive
a site containing back issues of avian journals dating back to 1884. Some highlights: The landing forces of domestic pigeons
, [pdf] an 1889 comparison of bird brains
New research takes steps towards finding the "gay genes."
A study conducted on gay brothers in more than 100 families found several genetic regions of similarity with linkage to sexual orientation. This is kind of dense (scroll to the bottom of the page for the FAQ), but that's because it hasn't been written up in the press so there are only journal doc's and scientific summaries available.
This is the press release, which is clearer
This is the article on the study, as published in the journal Human Genetics
Charlie Russell and Maureen Enns
- authors of a popular book
and the subject of a fascinating and well-recieved documentary
- have been living for months at a time with bears in Kamchatka, demonstrating that man and grizzly can, in fact, inhabit the same landscape without violence - at least, no violence on the part of the bears
... Their work has been brought to a tragic and all too human end... (Via Rafe Colburn, who notes, appropriately, "People suck.")