Fido bases his relief on the orientation of Earth’s magnetic field, scientists announce. “Dogs are very precisely oriented on the north-south axis while pooping, but only if the magnetic field is stable,” elaborates Petra Kovakova from the Czech University of Life Sciences, who studied the body positions of 70 pooches while they did their business outdoors. After observing 37 breeds, she concluded that all shapes and sizes eschewed relief toward the east or west if they had another option, though it’s still a mystery why.
Also in January:
Why did Stanford University researchers put flies on a treadmill? To see how their brains respond to motion. That's why. And how do they work? Like yours, they say. "The basic building blocks for how the circuits in the fly's brain work are really shockingly similar to the brains of humans and the brains of other vertebrae models that people have studied," said Thomas Clandinin, an associate professor of neurobiology. Now you know.
Also in February:
We knew that jewel wasps, an unlovely creature if ever there was one, lays its eggs in the cockroach brain. The egg hatches and the larva eats the living roach, eventually hatching from its abdomen. But now scientists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have identified the sensors on the wasp’s stinger that guide it into the cockroach’s tiny brain. Aren't you happy you know that?
Also in March:
Not super-volcanoes, not comet crashes but a humble germ that exists today seems to have caused the great Permian Extinction. How? Methanosarcina began a growth frenzy, emitting vast quantities of methane that heated up the climate and acidified the oceans (sound familiar)?
NBC News: Permafrost Methane Time Bomb>
Also in April:
Also in May:
Jellyfish is a feature in some Asian dinners, aside from which man hasn't found much use for the primitive animals. One man is working on a way to turn them into a perishable resource for medical treatments, advanced bandages and perishable plastic products. They grind the things into sludge, throw out the 90% water content and are left with – well, slime, to which nanoparticles with useful properties are added - such as electrical conductivity, anti-bacterial materials, medicines and glowing substances.
50 million years ago a hedgehog roamed the land today known as Canada. Unlike say the giant sloth and gargantuan mammoth, this was a dinky little thing: a whole family could have fit in the palm of your hand. We don't know if the animal, which was about the size of your thumb, had quills or not, because of its poor state of preservation. It probably did. It is a distant cousin of the moonrat.
Also in July:
Study: Marijuana helps prevent PTSD
At least, it works in rats, according to the Haifa University team, which used synthetic marijuana to avert the development of post-traumatic syndrome disorder in the hapless rodents. And how does fake pot work? Not entirely surprisingly, it seems to prevent the rat from developing the traumatic memory. It then doesn't respond when exposed to a "trauma reminder" - an event that is not traumatic in itself but that evokes the memory of the experience of the traumatic event. Yeah. But other studies on weed indicate that it doesn't do anything good to memories you want to keep either.
Also in August:
Using artificial sweeteners can increase the probability of developing diabetes and obesity, ironically the very conditions they're supposed to prevent, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science announced. They discovered that while artificial sweeteners don't contain glucose, they do affect how our bodies process sugar: our bodies can lose the ability to handle sugar. Since our intestines don't even absorb these sweeteners, genocide the scientists wondered who does and found: it's the bacteria in your guts. If you have certain types, eating the sweeteners has exactly the wrong effect on you.
Actually, Rana kauffeldi had been discovered 80 years ago, but nobody noticed until one scientist wondered who the devil was making that weird croaking sound. "That's no southern leopard frog," he thought to himself.
Also in October:
It's no great trick to measure changes in water acidification in one location. Doing it for a whole ocean is a whole other kettle of fish.
Also in November:
A cancer drug may work wonders in one patient and do nothing for another. An Israeli chemical engineer thought of a new way to personalize medicine and match the right drug to the right patient – while bypassing the painful, sometimes deadly, trial-and-error stage. DNA barcoding in nanoparticles, anyone?
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