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Ever since Darwin, evolutionary biologists have wondered why some lineages have diversified more than others. A classical explanation is that a higher rate of diversification reflects increased ecological opportunities that led to a rapid adaptive radiation of a clade. A textbook example is Darwin finches from Galapagos, whose ancestor colonized a competitors-free archipelago and rapidly radiated in 13 species, each one adapted to use the food resources in a different way.

This and other examples have led some to think that the progenitors of the major evolutionary radiations are those that happened to be in the right place and at the right time to take advantage of ecological opportunities.


The next generation of digital audio broadcasting has arrived: ROCK ANTENNE at the Fraunhofer stand (TWF 5.3, Stand 15) at IFA in Berlin will be the world's first radio station to broadcast its program in DAB Surround and mp3 Surround Internet radio.

DAB Surround will lend new quality to digital radio thanks to developments by the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS in Erlangen. Researchers there have devised the necessary techniques for processing and compressing the audio data.

The special feature of DAB Surround is that it doesn't require a higher data rate than stereo DAB to achieve this noticeably better sound experience. This is because the new MPEG Surround standard, developed largely by Fraunhofer engineers, compresses the six channels of a surround music track to the extent that they require no more memory than a compressed stereo signal.

Which of the Earth’s species, among bats, bees, fungi, plankton, and primates, are truly irreplaceable?

You will have a chance to decide at this year’s debate hosted by Earthwatch, the international environmental charity, on Thursday, 20th November 20th, 2008 from 7pm–9pm at the Royal Geographical Society, London.

Five scientists, all experts in their field, argue the case for their chosen species. It’s not difficult to name a personal favorite species, whether endearing, exciting, or endangered, but what of the less charismatic species, whose loss would have an immeasurably greater impact on our planet?

The chair for the evening will be television broadcaster and film producer Andrea Catherwood.

As poets, songwriters and authors have described, our memories range from misty water-colored recollections to vividly detailed images of the times of our lives.

Now, a study led by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Boston College offers new insights into the specific components of emotional memories, suggesting that sleep plays a key role in determining what we remember – and what we forget.

Reported in the August 2008 issue of the journal Psychological Science, the findings show that a period of slumber helps the brain to selectively preserve and enhance those aspects of a memory that are of greatest emotional resonance, while at the same time diminishing the memory's neutral background details.

What do a tree and the Eiffel Tower have in common?

According to a Duke University engineer, both are optimized for 'flow.' In the case of trees, the flow is of water from the ground throughout the trunk, branches and leaves, and into the air. The Eiffel Tower's flow carries stresses throughout the structure without collapsing under its own weight or being downed by the wind.

For most engineers, the laws governing fluid and solid mechanics like these examples are like oil and water – they just don't mix.

A theory developed by Adrian Bejan, J.A. Jones Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering and colleague Sylvie Lorente, professor of civil engineering at the University of Toulouse, France, explains how these disparate forces can co-exist within the same theory.


An automobile powered by petroleum on the freeway and by electricity in town uses considerably less energy. A hybrid propulsion system that switches over to generator operation when the brakes go on, producing electric current that is temporarily stored in a battery, yields tremendous savings, particularly in urban traffic.

But up to now, hybrid technology has always had a storage problem. Scientists from three Fraunhofer Institutes are developing new storage modules in a project called "Electromobility Fleet Test."

The pilot project was launched by Volkswagen and Germany's Federal Ministry for the Environment BMU together with seven other partners. The Fraunhofer Institutes for Silicon Technology ISIT in Itzehoe, Integrated Circuits IIS in Nuremberg, and Integrated Systems and Device Technology IISB in Erlangen will be pooling their expertise for the next three years. The researchers are developing an energy storage module based on lithium-polymer accumulator technology that is suitable for use in vehicles.