Banner
30 Years Left To Reach The Limit: CO2 Emissions Will Reach New Record High In 2014

Carbon dioxide emissions, the greenhouse gas that has been most strongly implicated in global warming...

Quantum Teleportation 25 Kilometers Away

Physicists at the University of Geneva have succeeded in teleporting the quantum state of a photon...

Experts Issue Plea For Better Research And Education For Advanced Breast Cancer

Breast cancer experts around the world have issued a plea to researchers, academics, drug companies...

Evolution Of Responses To (un)fairness

The sense of fairness did not evolve for the sake of fairness per se but in order to reap the benefits...

User picture.
News StaffRSS Feed of this column.

News Releases From All Over The World, Right To You... Read More »

Blogroll

Hidden away in museums for more that 100 years, some recently rediscovered flatfish fossils have filled a puzzling gap in the story of evolution and answered a question that initially stumped even Charles Darwin.

All adult flatfishes--including the gastronomically familiar flounder, plaice, sole, turbot, and halibut--have asymmetrical skulls, with both eyes located on one side of the head. Because these fish lay on their sides at the ocean bottom, this arrangement enhances their vision, with both eyes constantly in play, peering up into the water.


<!-- begin image -->
 Skull of heteronectes chaneti, showing incomplete orbital migration intermediate between generalized fishes and living flatfishes.

After taking a fresh look at an old fossil, John Flynn, Frick Curator of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History, and colleagues determined that the brains of the ancestors of modern Neotropical primates were as small as those of their early fossil simian counterparts in the Old World. This means one of the hallmarks of primate biology, increased brain size, arose independently in isolated groups—the platyrrhines of the Americas and the catarrhines of Africa and Eurasia.

"Primatologists have long suspected that increased encephalization may have arisen at different points in the primate evolutionary tree, but this is the first clear demonstration of independent brain size increase in New and Old World anthropoids," says Flynn of the paper that appeared in the Museum's publication Novitates this June. Encephalization is the increase in brain size relative to body size. Animals with large encephalization quotients (E.Q.'s) are those with bigger brains relative to their body size in comparison to the average for an entire group. Most primates and dolphins have high E.Q.'s relative to other mammals, although some primates (especially apes and humans) have higher E.Q.'s than others.


While it's true that the attractiveness of orthodontic braces is related to less metal, according to a recent survey, the least attractive ones remain the most effective. It's that old form versus function issue.

Study findings published in a recent issue of the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics found that the public's attitude about the attractiveness of various styles of braces indicates that the types of dental appliances with no visible metal were considered the most attractive. Braces that combine clear ceramic brackets with thin metal or clear wires were a less desirable option, and braces with metal brackets and metal wires were rated as the least aesthetic combination.

Money is important for survival and for entertainment, and it is often used as a reward, but recent studies have shown that money is also a factor in personal performance, interpersonal relations and helping behavior, as well.

In a recent set of experiments, psychologists Kathleen D. Vohs of the University of Minnesota, Nicole L. Mead of Florida State University and Miranda R. Goode of the University of British Columbia found that participants’ personal performance improved, and interpersonal relationships and sensitivity towards others declined, when they were reminded of money.

To set up one of the experiments, the researchers used four different types of reminders about money.

Terrace-like elevations of just a few nanometres can form during production of organic thin films made from electrically conductive material. This phenomenon was previously only known from inorganic materials and is crucially important for future production of a new generation of semi-conductor components based on organic thin films.

Inorganic semi-conductors have a simple construction and have made high-performance computers possible. In contrast, organic semi-conductors are complex but enable production of innovative electronic circuits, as vividly demonstrated by the first prototypes for roll-up screens. Yet these benefits of organic semi-conductors can only be fully harnessed when the response of their organic molecular layer - whose thinness is crucial in functional terms - is better understood.

The national research network (NRN) "Interface controlled and functionalised organic thin films" of the Austrian Science Fund FWF is contributing to precisely this understanding.

There are a few areas where computers cannot surpass humans and a new study says music is still among them.

Neuroscientists in a new study looked at the brain's response to piano sonatas played either by a computer or a musician and found that, while the computerized version elicited an emotional response – particularly to unexpected chord changes - it was not as strong as listening to the same piece played by a professional pianist.

Senior research fellow in psychology Dr Stefan Koelsch, who carried out the study with colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, played excerpts from classical piano sonatas to twenty non-musicians and recorded electric brain responses and skin conductance responses (which vary with sweat production as a result of an emotional response).