Researchers from Wildlife Conservation Society and India’s Nature Conservation Foundation have developed a unique “photographic capture-recapture” survey method that identifies individual male elephants, specifically by the shape and size of their tusks, ears, and other features. This in turn can be used to monitor their survival rates and movement.
“Unlike African elephants where both males and females have tusks, only male Asian elephants have valuable tusks, so they are specifically targeted by poachers,” said WCS researcher Varun Goswami, the study’s lead author. “In light of this fact, just counting all elephants with generic techniques isn’t enough. Our new method allows specific tracking of male elephant population dynamics, so it is a powerful conservation tool.”
Movies such as Spiderman 2 and Speed generate excitement among audiences with their cool special effects. But they also defy the laws of physics, contributing to students’ ignorance about science.
Two University of Central Florida professors show just how poorly Hollywood writers and directors understand science in an article published in the German journal “Praxis der Naturwissenschaften Physik.” Common sense may indicate that people should know the stunts in movies are just make believe, but the professors say that’s not necessarily true.
Some people really do believe a bus traveling 70 mph can clear a 50-foot gap in a freeway, as depicted in the movie Speed.
Painful, emotional memories that people would most like to forget may be the toughest to leave behind, especially when memories are created through visual cues, according to a new study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“When you’re watching the news on television and see footage of wounded soldiers in Iraq or ongoing coverage of national tragedies, it may stick with you more than a newspaper headline,” said the study’s lead author, Keith Payne, an assistant professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences.
It is adaptive to be able to intentionally forget neutral events such as wrong directions, a friend’s outdated phone number or a switched meeting time. Intentional forgetting helps update memory with new information, Payne said.
Antibacterial soaps show no health benefits over plain soaps and, in fact, may render some common antibiotics less effective, says a University of Michigan public health professor.
In the first known comprehensive analysis of whether antibacterial soaps work better than plain soaps, Allison Aiello of the U-M School of Public Health and her team found that washing hands with an antibacterial soap was no more effective in preventing infectious illness than plain soap. Moreover, antibacterial soaps at formulations sold to the public do not remove any more bacteria from the hands during washing than plain soaps.
Could extraterrestrial life be made of corkscrew-shaped particles of interstellar dust? Intriguing new evidence of life-like structures that form from inorganic substances in space are revealed today in the New Journal of Physics. The findings hint at the possibility that life beyond earth may not necessarily use carbon-based molecules as its building blocks. They also point to a possible new explanation for the origin of life on earth.
Life on earth is organic.
While studying the mechanisms of development in shark embryos, University of Florida scientists identified genetic activity that is required for digit development in limbed animals.
Previous work suggested that the transition from fins to limbs involved the addition of a late phase of gene activity during embryonic development, something thought to be absent during the development of fish fins.
The finding shows what was thought to be a relatively recent evolutionary innovation existed eons earlier than previously believed, shedding light on how life on Earth developed and potentially providing insight for scientists seeking ways to cure human birth defects, which affect about 150,000 infants annually in the United States.