Briefly Noted

first_imgHuman Body – You Smell Like a Dog:  Bloodhounds, we know, are good at telling the direction of a scent, but it turns out that humans have that ability, too.  Researchers at UC Berkeley did experiments with human subjects to see if they could tell which direction a scent came from.  Functional MRI (fMRI) was used to monitor their brain activity.  The subjects were able to tell which nostril found the scent, especially when they sniffed.  This means that the brain can judge time of arrival – as with hearing – to sense the direction of a source.  With practice, the researchers believe, we could get pretty good at it.  Source: LiveScience.com.Ethics – Most Science Papers Are Wrong:  There is less than a 50% chance that the results of any randomly chosen scientific paper are true, warns a researcher.  Personal biases, wish fulfillment, bad sampling, poor technique, conflict of interest and other biases combine to make most research findings false.  Source: New Scientist.  But how do we know that conclusion is true?Origin of Life – Light May Favor Left Hands:  Radiation from space might preferentially destroy one form of chiral molecules like amino acids, say researchers.  If amino acids were ferried to the early earth on icy dust, this may have favored one hand over the other.  But the experiments with circularly polarized light on one amino acid – leucine – produced an excess of only 2.6% – far less than the 100% purity required for life (see online book).  Source: New Scientist.Theology – Catholic Statement Worries Darwinists:  A letter from four Austrian scientists to Science Aug. 26 expressed dismay that a Viennese Cardinal said, “evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense is not true” and that there is “overwhelming evidence for design in biology.”  They called this a political move toward dogmatism and fundamentalism reminiscent of the Galileo affair.Early Man – Another Dmanisi Skull:  Another skull has been found in the republic of Georgia near Tblisi.  This one was in the best condition of the other five that had been found earlier.  The bones, a “million years older than any widely accepted pre-human remains in Europe, have provided additional evidence that Homo erectus left Africa a half-million years or more earlier than scientists had previously thought.”  That’s a lot of time for this human group to have done more than scratch, wouldn’t one think?  Source: LiveScience.com.Amazing Birds – Chickens Have Magnetic Compass:  Chickens are not so dumb; they have magnetic radar.  Two articles on EurekAlert (EurekAlert 1, EurekAlert 2) about experiments on birds with magnets and light suggest that “birds’ orientation abilities may be more complex than previously thought and that birds may be able to interpret magnetic signals by more than one mechanism.”  See also Current Biology Volume 15, Issue 16, 23 August 2005, Pages R620-R621.Amazing Bugs – Beetles Inspire Nanotechnology:  A Cornell scientist, intrigued by how beetles could adhere to leaves when threatened, decided to imitate them.  The beetles are able to take advantage of surface tension by exuding “120,000 droplets of secreted oil, each making a bridgelike contact between the beetle’s feet and the leaf.”  Each droplet is just a few microns wide, the report on Cornell University says, but in concert, they act like two wet pieces of paper sticking together.  A beetle can cling to a palm leaf with “adhesive strengths equal to a hundred times its own body weight – the human equivalent of carrying seven cars.”  Researchers are using the principle to create small, fast transistor switches.Cell Biology – Multi-Talented Telomerase:  Telomerase, the enzyme that keep DNA tips (telomeres) from unraveling, apparently does more than control the aging of a cell.  Science Now reports that it also regulates stem cells and spurs cell growth.  It can even grow hair on mice.Darwin – What Henslow Taught Darwin:  John S. Henslow, a “kindly Professor” at Cambridge and a creationist, taught Darwin how to collect plant specimens carefully and identify varieties within a species.  Henslow was the one who recommended Darwin to be naturalist on the HMS Beagle.  Four writers in Nature (436, 643-645, 4 August 2005, doi: 10.1038/436643a) believe that Darwin took the lessons he learned from Henslow with him on the voyage, and rather than use his data on varieties for demonstrating the stability of species, as Henslow did, began to entertain ideas of species transformation.(Visited 7 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img

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