Even though being afraid of the dark sounds childish, our fear of the dark is an evolutionary trait that we picked up to survive real-life predators stalking the night. Researchers have hypothesised that this innate fear stems from a point of human history when we were nowhere near the top predators we are today. Humans only really became super predators with the advent of technology, which wasn’t that long ago.
Before technology, our ancestors were constantly on the look-out for predators that wanted nothing more than to chow down on human sandwiches. To make that even scarier, most of these predators hunted at night - a time of day when we are especially vulnerable to attack because of our relatively poor eyesight.
There’s an innovative new light technology that's trying to change the way people think about "artificial light." In Italian company called CoeLux has developed a new light source that recreates the look of sunlight through a skylight so well that it can trick both human brains and cameras.
It’s a high tech LED skylight that’s designed to provide "sunlight" for interior spaces cut off from the outdoors. One of the main ideas behind it is that to create realistic sunlight, you can’t just simulate the sun… you need to recreate the atmosphere as well.
The scientists who invented the light figured out how to use a thin coating of nanoparticles to accurately simulate sunlight through Earth’s atmosphere and the effect known as Rayleigh scattering[ ... ]
Academics from seven universities across the world studied Christian, Muslim, and non-religious children to test the relationship between religion and morality. They found that religious belief is a negative influence on children’s altruism (link below). Even more, religiousness predicts parent-reported child sensitivity to injustices and empathy, and children from religious households are harsher in their punitive tendencies.
The authors of The Negative Association Between Religiousness and Children’s Altruism Across the World, published this week in Current Biology note that their findings "contradict the commonsense and popular assumption that children from religious households are more altruistic and kind towards others." More generally [ ... ]
You're looking at the world’s oldest woven linen garment called the Tarkhan Dress. At 5100 to 5500 years old, it dates to the dawn of the kingdom of Egypt. After it was found in the early 1900s, archeologists have concluded that it signals the complexity and wealth of the ancient society that produced it. The rips at the bottom of the garment also suggests that it probably fell past the knees originally.
A handful of garments of similar age have survived to the present day, but those were simply wrapped or draped around the body. The Tarkhan dress, on the other hand, is ancient haute couture. With its tailored sleeves, V-neck, and narrow pleats, it would look perfectly at home in a modern department store. [ ... ]
According to a new study published in Cell Metabolism, mice who spent their free time on a running wheel were better able to shrink tumors (a 50 percent reduction in tumor size) compared to their less active counterparts. Researchers found that the surge of adrenaline ( epinephrine) that comes with a high-intensity workout helped to move cancer-killing immune (NK) cells toward lung, liver, or skin tumors implanted into the mice.
While the research is hopeful for patients looking for inexpensive ways to manage their cancer, more needs to be learned about the effects of exercise on metastasis and longevity, as well as if the observations hold true in humans. Scientists also wants to explore the combined impact of anti-cancer treatments and ex [ ... ]
If you want to be an effective science teacher, demonstrations are a must in the classroom. If you want to grab the attention of a young student then make it obvious, as shown in this visualization of a magnetic field!
This rare albino green sea turtle just hatched on a beach in Queensland, Australia. Albinism is the congenital absence of any pigmentation or coloration in a person, animal or plant, resulting in white hair and pink eyes in mammals. Unfortunately, albinism can reduce the survivability of an animal, and the same can be said about this baby turtle. For example, it has been suggested that albino alligators have an average survival span of only 24 hours due to the lack of protection from UV and their lack of camouflage to avoid predators. [ ... ]
While it may look small now, this baby swordfish (Xiphias gladius) grows fast and can reach 14 feet in length and weigh up to 1,200 pounds as an adult. They are found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans and sometimes cold waters, including the Mediterranean Sea, the Sea of Marmara, the Black Sea, and the Sea of Azov. They are highly migratory, moving to warmer waters in the winter and cooler waters in the summer. While they are not at the top of the food chain, it is not a fish to be messed with; apparently, even sharks are wary of them! [ ... ]
Vibratory urticarial is a ultra rare genetic condition that cause people to break out in hives if their skin is vigorously vibrated or rubbed. In fact, even drying yourself with a towel can cause hives, make your face flush, give you headaches, or produce the sensation of a metallic taste. According to a new study published this week, researchers found a mutation in a gene called ADGRE2 that codes for a receptor protein found on the surface of mast cells - immune cells in the skin that dump out inflammatory molecules such as histamines that increase blood flow to an area and can cause hives. The researchers observed that shaking mast cells in a dish breaks apart two subunits of this receptor protein, which prompts histamine release. In p [ ... ]
The magic number is 42 m/s (94 mph). Using mathematical data and physical experiments, scientists say they have found the law that governs the resistance of wooden beams under stress. According to the study (link), researchers hung weights from wooden rods and pieces of pencil lead to record the amount of force needed to snap the cylinder. As one might sense, they found that for a fixed length, increasing the diameter made the rods stronger: They could bend more before breaking. This would make tall skinny trees most vulnerable, but, as the team points out, trees don’t grow taller without getting disproportionately thicker as well. By incorporating established laws of tree allometry - which explain the relationship of tree size parameters [ ... ]
What sets Homo sapiens apart from other animals? Among other things, our chins do. That piece of bone sticking out from your jaw is somewhat of a mystery - one that's inspired a diversity of wild theories to explain its purpose, according to a paper published this month in Evolutionary Anthropology.
The author of the paper dismisses a number of these explanations, such as the possibility that the chin serves as a sexual signal (such traits usually only appear in one sex - like the mane of a male lion). Another proposal is that the chin acts to protect your throat - an idea the paper's author also shoots down, because for this to be a substantial advantage, humans would have to be constantly punching each other in the face.
A medical doctor claims he has the cure for HIV, a cure so simple it's laughable. According to Dr. Samir Chachoua, the Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis Virus (CAEV) in goats milk "destroys HIV and protects people who drink it for life". The so-called researched voluntarily infected himself with Charlie Sheen's HIV-infected blood, and cured himself shortly after with this cocktail. The moral of the story is, if you are traveling across the countryside and see a goat limping, please stop and milk it for Charlie. It's the least you can do.
Joking aside, here's the interview with Bill Maher.
It's hard to fathom the difficulties our ancestors had to contend with given how our world has advanced with technological sophistication over the past century. We shouldn't, however, underestimate the power of the human-mind, and how everything that was discovered in the past paved the way for the practices used today, especially those used in science.
Of the very first astronomers, the ancient Babylonian were the first to use simple arithmetic to predict the positions of celestial bodies. Evidence reveals that these astronomers, working several centuries B.C.E., also employed sophisticated geometric methods that foreshadow the development of calculus. Historians had thought such techniques did not emerge until more than 1400 years later, [ ... ]
A landmark study, based on genetic analysis of nearly 65,000 people, has revealed that a person's risk of schizophrenia is increased if they inherit specific variants in a gene related to "synaptic pruning" - the elimination of connections between neurons. The findings represent the first time that the origin of this devastating psychiatric disease has been causally linked to specific gene variants and a biological process. They also help explain decades-old observations: synaptic pruning is particularly active during adolescence, which is the typical period of onset for schizophrenia symptoms, and brains of schizophrenic patients tend to show fewer connections between neurons. The gene, called component 4 (C4), plays a well-known role in t [ ... ]