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January 10 2015

Rare Butterfly Is Half Male, Half Female


An unusual butterfly that is half male and half female recently caught the eyes of a volunteer at a butterfly exhibit at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

Chris Johnson, a retired chemical engineer from Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, was volunteering at the exhibit when he stumbled across the unusual sight.

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January 10 2015

Chimpanzees drum with signature style


Sometimes a male chimp just needs to drum. Hooting and hollering, he gallops up to the giant buttress root of a tree, grips its crest with his hands, and beats on its wall-like surface with both feet, making a racket that can be heard more than a kilometer away. Now, new research from Uganda suggests these drum solos contain signature rhythmic patterns that may telegraph an individual’s whereabouts to distant troopmates. The findings could provide insight into how rhythm first evolved in humans.

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January 9 2015

Orangutan Figures Out How to Communicate Like a Person


Tilda, a female orangutan at the Cologne Zoo in Germany, appears to have figured out that if she communicates like a person, she can better grab the attention of zookeepers.

She is the first wild-born Bornean orangutan known to produce novel human-like vocalizations, according to a paper published in PLOS ONE. She is also the only wild born orangutan that can whistle tunes, just as humans do.


Related: Cows communicate using individual sounds like human names

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January 9 2015

Monkeys can learn to see themselves in the mirror


Unlike humans and great apes, rhesus monkeys don't realize when they look in a mirror that it is their own face looking back at them. But, according to a new report, that doesn't mean they can't learn. What's more, once rhesus monkeys in the study developed mirror self-recognition, they continued to use mirrors spontaneously to explore parts of their bodies they normally don't see.

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January 9 2015

Humans, sparrows make sense of sounds in similar ways: Complex set of cognitive skills


The song of the swamp sparrow -- a grey-breasted bird found in wetlands throughout much of North America -- is a simple melodious trill. But according to a new study swamp sparrows are capable of processing the notes that make up their simple songs in more sophisticated ways than previously realized -- an ability that may help researchers better understand the perceptual building blocks that enable language in humans.

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January 9 2015

Seeing Electricity, Hearing Magnetism & Other Sensory Feats


It’s pretty obvious that dogs have sharper ears and cats a keener sense of smell than we do. But as powerful these senses are, they are merely keener versions of the ones we humans possess. The animal kingdom also boast some senses that are arguably more impressive—senses that are far more exotic than our pets’, and that seem unfathomable to the human brain.


Related: Human Eye Sometimes Sees the Unseeable - "Under certain conditions people can catch a glimpse of usually invisible infrared light"

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January 9 2015

Rave Drug "Special K" Holds Promise for Treating Depression Fast


Ketamine, a psychoactive ‘party drug’ better known as Special K, has pharma­ceutical companies riding high. Used clinically as an anaesthetic in animals and humans, it has proved an extremely effective treatment for depression, bipolar disorder and suicidal behaviour.

It also works incredibly fast. Unlike conventional antidepressants, which generally take weeks to start working, ketamine lifts depression in as little as two hours. “It blew the doors off what we thought we knew about depression treatment,” says psychiatrist James Murrough at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

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January 9 2015

New Implant Lets Paralyzed Rats Walk Again


An experimental flexible implant that connects directly to the spinal cord might someday lead to a treatment for people with spinal cord injuries, and could possibly help people with paraplegia move again, researchers say.

Now, researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne have built such an implant.

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January 9 2015

Game theorists crack poker


A new computer algorithm can play one of the most popular variants of poker essentially perfectly. Its creators say that it is virtually “incapable of losing against any opponent in a fair game”.

This is a step beyond a computer program that can beat top human players, as IBM's chess-playing computer Deep Blue famously did in 1997 against Garry Kasparov, at the time the game's world champion. The poker program devised by computer scientist Michael Bowling and his colleagues at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, along with Finnish software developer Oskari Tammelin, plays perfectly, to all intents and purposes.

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January 9 2015

Super-insulated clothing could eliminate need for indoor heating


By wearing clothes that have been dip-coated in a silver nanowire (AgNW) solution that is highly radiation-insulating, a person may stay so warm in the winter that they can greatly reduce or even eliminate their need for heating their home. Considering that 47% of global energy is spent on indoor heating, and 42% of that specifically for residential heating, such highly insulating clothing could potentially have huge cost savings.

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January 9 2015

Wind-powered freighters


To make ships more eco-efficient, engineers have been working with alternative fuels. A Norwegian engineer is currently pursuing a new approach: With VindskipTM, he has designed a cargo ship that is powered by wind and gas. Software developed by Fraunhofer researchers will ensure an optimum use of the available wind energy at any time.

International shipping is transporting 90 percent of all goods on earth.

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January 9 2015

US military is developing SILENT motorcycles


An elite group of special forces silently race across enemy lines on stealth motorcycles that fighters would never suspect were coming.

That's the scenario the US military is hoping for with its development of the 'Silent Hawk' – a hybrid engine dirt bike for use in reconnaissance missions.


Related: Bamboo bike recharges mobile devices, external batteries by peddling

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January 9 2015

Nasa throws robot into volcano to explore fissures, could help understand alien planets


Nasa is to throw a small robot into a volcano that will help explore the fissures and volcanic vents.

Nobody really knows how volcanoes erupt, and the experiment will shed light on what actually goes on inside a volcano, as well as being practice for exploring similar areas on the moon and Mars. So Nasa is sending the robot to explore a volcanic fissure — a crack that erupts magma.

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January 9 2015

Are volcanoes the energy source of the future?


The Reykjanes Peninsula, a finger of black rock jutting out over the Mid-Atlantic Ridge from Iceland's southwestern coast, has long leveraged its unique volcanic geology into economic opportunity. Its spectacularly carved edifices and vast lava fields draw naturalists from around the globe, while geothermal pools heated by deposits of steam and magma deep below ground provide the anchor for a thriving resort economy.

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January 9 2015

Rock art draws scientists to ancient lakes


Life imitates art. And sometimes science does the same. Seven thousand year-old rock paintings in the Sahara desert have, somewhat serendipitously, helped uncover evidence of ancient lake beds.

Researchers discovered the mineral remnants of the lake while studying a region well-known for its rock art. The most famous example is the Cave of the Swimmers, which provided a setting in the movie "The English Patient." The drawings in the cave depict humans that appear to be swimming, floating and diving. And yet this area in southwestern Egypt is one of the driest in the world.

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January 9 2015

Pharaonic Rock Carvings Found in Egypt


A rare wall relief showing an unidentified pharaoh has been discovered within the sandstone quarries of Gebel el Sisila, north of Aswan.

Carved into the vertical face of the quarry wall, some 5 feet above the ground, the stela depicts the pharaoh presenting offerings to Thoth, the ancient god of wisdom, and Amun-Ra, the king among gods.

“It’s particularly rare for these two deities to be portrayed together,”.

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January 9 2015

An Ancient Musical Instrument Has Been Discovered In China


Chinese archaeologists working in Hubei province's Zaoyang City have unearthed an ancient stringed instrument dating back thousands of years. It's said to be the earliest ever found in China.

It's called a "se" and it was found near a frame that holds chime bells. They were among a number of items pulled up by archaeologists working at the site, a complex of tombs which measures 4,920 feet (1,500 meters) by 2,620 feet (800 meters).

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