Posts

August 29, 2014

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1:42 PM | Laughter Is OK Medicine, Unless It Kills You
Have a great Labor Day weekend, everybody! But be careful not to enjoy yourself too much. (This post on the dangers of laughter first appeared in December 2013.) Careful with the bedside banter, doctors. Before you put on your best Patch Adams impression, you might want to consider whether your attempts at humor will ease […]The post Laughter Is OK Medicine, Unless It Kills You appeared first on Inkfish.

August 26, 2014

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4:09 PM | For These Bats, the Best Falsetto Wins Over the Ladies
A bat’s voice is its livelihood. Chirping and squeaking at just the right frequencies lets it echolocate food and stay alive. Sounding pretty isn’t the point—except when it is. For the first time, scientists think they’ve found a bat species in which females choose mates based on their voices. Even if a lower-frequency squeak might […]The post For These Bats, the Best Falsetto Wins Over the Ladies appeared first on Inkfish.

Puechmaille, S., Borissov, I., Zsebok, S., Allegrini, B., Hizem, M., Kuenzel, S., Schuchmann, M., Teeling, E. & Siemers, B. (2014). Female Mate Choice Can Drive the Evolution of High Frequency Echolocation in Bats: A Case Study with Rhinolophus mehelyi, PLoS ONE, 9 (7) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0103452

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Editor's Pick

August 22, 2014

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1:42 PM | These Cave Rocks Are Made out of Bacteria
Stalactites hold tight to the ceiling, the saying goes, and stalagmites might grow high enough to reach it. But the simple mnemonic doesn’t come close to covering the variety of weird, rocky shapes growing all over a cave. There are even, it turns out, rocks made from bacteria. They’re not putting the “tight” in “stalactite” so […]The post These Cave Rocks Are Made out of Bacteria appeared first on Inkfish.

Sallstedt, T., Ivarsson, M., Lundberg, J., Sjöberg, R. & Vidal Romaní, J. (2014). Speleothem and biofilm formation in a granite/dolerite cave, Northern Sweden, International Journal of Speleology, 43 (3) 305-313. DOI: 10.5038/1827-806X.43.3.7

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August 20, 2014

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2:07 PM | How Humans Are Helping Ravens and Hurting Hawks
You’ve already picked a side in the bird wars, whether or not you know it. As humans carve up formerly empty expanses of the western United States with our roads, electrical towers, and power lines, we’re inadvertently giving a boost to ravens. Meanwhile, the birds of prey that once ruled the land are being left […]The post How Humans Are Helping Ravens and Hurting Hawks appeared first on Inkfish.

Coates, P., Howe, K., Casazza, M. & Delehanty, D. (2014). Landscape alterations influence differential habitat use of nesting buteos and ravens within sagebrush ecosystem: Implications for transmission line development, The Condor, 116 (3) 341-356. DOI: 10.1650/CONDOR-13-126.1

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August 15, 2014

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1:16 PM | Your Childhood Was Lame: Tops Don’t Have to Be Round Anymore
Sure, the baby doll that closed her eyes when you held her horizontally was kind of cool. But she’s not much competition for a break-dancing armadillo. Researchers at Disney Research Zurich—who normally work on computer graphics, video manipulation, and animation—recently took a spin in the physical world instead. Along with researchers at the Swiss Federal […]The post Your Childhood Was Lame: Tops Don’t Have to Be Round Anymore appeared first on Inkfish.

August 12, 2014

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2:47 PM | Even Kindergarteners Can Rate Their Own Confidence
Do you remember on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire—apparently this show is still on, but I’ll assume no one else has seen it this decade—how after contestants picked an answer, Regis Philbin sometimes asked, “How sure are you?” They’d pull a number seemingly out of the air: “Oh, eighty-five percent.” This trick of estimating our […]The post Even Kindergarteners Can Rate Their Own Confidence appeared first on Inkfish.

August 08, 2014

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2:27 PM | It Only Takes Six Generations to Turn a Brown Butterfly Purple
Evolution can seem like a slow way to get things done. It took more than a billion years for Earth’s life forms to try having more than one cell. In the famous March of Progress illustration showing an ape becoming an upright human, you can almost hear the stoop-shouldered cave guy in the middle groaning, “Hurry […]The post It Only Takes Six Generations to Turn a Brown Butterfly Purple appeared first on Inkfish.

Wasik, B., Liew, S., Lilien, D., Dinwiddie, A., Noh, H., Cao, H. & Monteiro, A. (2014). Artificial selection for structural color on butterfly wings and comparison with natural evolution, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1402770111

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August 05, 2014

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2:51 PM | Kids Name the Darnedest Animals
Here’s an experiment that’s easy to do on your own. Grab the nearest elementary- or middle-school-age kid, sit her down in a quiet place, and ask her to name everything she can think of that’s alive. The results might tell you a lot about your young subject’s life. The wilder the animals, the more domestic […]The post Kids Name the Darnedest Animals appeared first on Inkfish.

Taverna, A., Moscoloni, N., Peralta, O., Medin, D. & Waxman, S. (2014). Naming the Living Things: Linguistic, Experiential and Cultural Factors in Wichí and Spanish Speaking Children, Journal of Cognition and Culture, 14 (3-4) 213-233. DOI: 10.1163/15685373-12342122

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