Animals, Biology, News

Males may be Wired to choose Sex over Food

"Adaptive behavioral prioritization requires flexible outputs from fixed neural circuits. In C. elegans, the prioritization of feeding versus mate searching depends on biological sex (males will abandon food to search for mates, whereas hermaphrodites will not) as well as developmental stage and feeding status. Previously, we found that males are less attracted than hermaphrodites to the food-associated odorant diacetyl, suggesting that sensory modulation may contribute to behavioral prioritization," the researchers write in Current Biology. Image: Current Biology.

Men are from Mars and women are from Venus, or so the old adage goes, but how different are men and women? I won’t go into debates like whether or not men and women are neurologically the same – it’s a far too exhaustive and exhausting subject for such a short article. Clearly, however, men and women are different in…

Environment, News

UK to allow fracking companies to use ‘any substance’ under homes, despite 99% public opposition

Image credits: Rob Brooks.

A new proposed amendment in the UK would make a mockery of existing European shale gas regulation. If the new regulation would pass, it would allow fracking companies to put “any substance” under people’s homes and property and leave it there, as part of the Infrastructure Bill. The wording of the bill would also allow storing nuclear waste. Europe has much stricter…

Animals, Environment, News

Alien Mussels Threaten U.K. Biodiversity

Quagga mussels. Image via 100th Meridian.

The single most threatening species to U.K.’s biodiversity is a species of mussels – the quagga mussel. Coming from the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea in Eastern Europe, the quagga mussel came with four other freshwater invaders which have now become a huge danger for Britain’s wildlife. The quagga mussel, scientific name Dreissena rostriformis bugensis, is an invasive species….

News, Pollution

NASA confirms there’s a huge cloud of methane over southwest US

methane us

A cloud of methane gas about the size of Delaware was detected over the Four Corners area of the American southwest years ago. But people didn’t take it seriously, because (believe it or not) – it was so big that they thought it was an instrument error. “We didn’t focus on it because we weren’t sure if it was a true…

News, Physics, Renewable Energy

Hybrid Semiconductors might Smash PV Efficiency through the Roof

When light is absorbed in pentacene, the generated singlet excitons rapidly undergo fission into paris of triplets that can be efficiently transfered onto inorganic nanocrystals. Credit: Maxim Tabachnyk

A team at University of Cambridge have harvested so-called ‘dark’ spin-triplet excitons with close to 100% efficiency, a breakthrough achievement which could vastly improve the efficiency of hybrid solar cells that use both organic and inorganic semiconductor junctions. An exciting solar future Excitons are basically electrons coupled to a hole (they’re attracted to each other and form a pair). An electron gets…

Environmental Issues, News, Pollution, Science

Ocean Abyss hasn’t Warmed – Where’s All The Heat?

e. This image shows heat radiating from the Pacific Ocean as imaged by the NASA’s Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System instrument on the Terra satellite. (Blue regions indicate thick cloud cover.)

The ocean abyss hasn’t warmed significantly since 2005, according to a new NASA study, further deepening the mystery of why global warming has apparently ground to halt in the past couple of years. The researchers stress, however, that the findings do not indicate that there isn’t any man-made climate change; sea levels are still rising, it’s just the fine details that…

Animals, Anthropology, News

Chimps Pass down Skills to Peers and Establish Cultures

chimp_culture

Chimps, our closest relatives, can pass down knowledge and skills, like using a new tool for instance, and establish cultural communities, according to a recently study published in PLOS Biology. Communicating and passing down skills, inventions and knowledge is considering a pre-requisite to what we commonly refer to as human culture, and the findings suggest that this kind of behavior can…

Animals, Biology, News

Sharks have Social Personalities too: some are friendlier than Others

Juvenile spotted cat sharks (Scyliorhinus canicula) were studied for their social interactions. They can found throughout the northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean, but during the test the sharks were monitored in large tanks containing three habitats in Plymouth. Photo: University of Florida

When people think of sharks, the most immediate response might be jaws, fright or blood, but if you’re willing to set prejudice aside you might find that these animals aren’t that different from most of us; at least in one important respect: social interactions….

Environment, News

Beautiful Undulating Clouds officially recognized as a New type of Cloud Formation

Asperatus Cloud, New Zealand. Photo: Merrick Davies

Different types of clouds form under different circumstances, although they all originate from the same process: the condensation of water. Though most people would categorize clouds as either fluffy, dark or scary, there are actually many types of clouds classified according to the height they form at and texture. Weather geeks have a reason to rejoice today, as a new…

News, Renewable Energy, Technology

Near Perfect Solar absorbing Material developed at MIT

Cross section of the metallic dielectric photonic crystal. Image: MIT

Researchers at MIT report they’ve developed a novel material that can absorb almost all incoming wavelengths of light and convert the energy into heat. The radiated heat emitted by the material can then be collected by photovoltaics for later conversion into electricity. The material is cheap to make using currently available manufacturing processes, can absorb light indifferent of the incident…