Using geometry, researchers coax human embryonic stem cells to organize themselves
June 30, 2014 | SCIENCE NEWS


About seven days after conception, something remarkable occurs in the clump of cells that will eventually become a new human being. They start to specialize. They take on characteristics that begin to hint at their ultimate fate as part of the skin, brain, muscle or any of the roughly 200 cell types that exist in people, and they start to form distinct layers.
Although scientists have studied this process in animals, and have tried to coax human embryonic stem cells into taking shape by flooding them with chemical signals, until now the process has not been successfully replicated in the lab. But researchers led by Ali Brivanlou, Robert and Harriet Heilbrunn Professor and head of the Laboratory of Stem Cell Biology and Molecular Embryology at The Rockefeller University, have done it, and it turns out that the missing ingredient is geometrical, not chemical.
[Click image to read on…]

Using geometry, researchers coax human embryonic stem cells to organize themselves

About seven days after conception, something remarkable occurs in the clump of cells that will eventually become a new human being. They start to specialize. They take on characteristics that begin to hint at their ultimate fate as part of the skin, brain, muscle or any of the roughly 200 cell types that exist in people, and they start to form distinct layers.

Although scientists have studied this process in animals, and have tried to coax human embryonic stem cells into taking shape by flooding them with chemical signals, until now the process has not been successfully replicated in the lab. But researchers led by Ali Brivanlou, Robert and Harriet Heilbrunn Professor and head of the Laboratory of Stem Cell Biology and Molecular Embryology at The Rockefeller University, have done it, and it turns out that the missing ingredient is geometrical, not chemical.

[Click image to read on…]



mothernaturenetwork:

Why some chimpanzees are smarter than othersIs it nature? Is it nurture? Scientists think intelligence in chimps may mostly be nature, and it may help gain insight into human intelligence as well.

Researchers measured how well 99 captive chimpanzees performed on a series of cognitive tests, finding that genes determined as much as 50 percent of the animals’ performance… In the new study, Hopkins and his colleagues gave chimpanzees at the Yerkes Primate Center, in Atlanta, a battery of cognitive tests adapted from ones developed by German researchers for comparing humans and great apes. The tests measured a range of abilities in physical cognition, such as the ability to discriminate quantity, spatial memory and tool use. The tests also examined aspects of social cognition, such as communication ability….
About half of the variability in the chimps’ performance on the cognitive tests could be attributed to their relatedness, the results showed…
In addition, neither the sex of the animals nor their rearing history (whether they were raised by their mother or by humans) seemed to affect cognitive performance, the researchers found…


But while the results suggest that “nature” matters a bit more than “nurture” for intelligence, Hopkins said other findings don’t support that interpretation. Environment and experience still have an influence on cognitive performance. For example, if you compare chimps that have been trained to use sign language to ones that haven’t, the trained animals do much better on cognitive tests, he said. “So there’s a case where nurture really matters.”
Curiously, the results of the study support the idea of general intelligence, rather than the theory of multiple intelligences — such as mathematical, verbal or musical ability — that American psychologist Howard Gardner developed. General intelligence suggests that individuals posses a general learning ability that makes it likely that a person who possesses one form of intelligence will posses others.

mothernaturenetwork:

Why some chimpanzees are smarter than others
Is it nature? Is it nurture? Scientists think intelligence in chimps may mostly be nature, and it may help gain insight into human intelligence as well.

Researchers measured how well 99 captive chimpanzees performed on a series of cognitive tests, finding that genes determined as much as 50 percent of the animals’ performance… 

In the new study, Hopkins and his colleagues gave chimpanzees at the Yerkes Primate Center, in Atlanta, a battery of cognitive tests adapted from ones developed by German researchers for comparing humans and great apes. The tests measured a range of abilities in physical cognition, such as the ability to discriminate quantity, spatial memory and tool use. The tests also examined aspects of social cognition, such as communication ability….

About half of the variability in the chimps’ performance on the cognitive tests could be attributed to their relatedness, the results showed…

In addition, neither the sex of the animals nor their rearing history (whether they were raised by their mother or by humans) seemed to affect cognitive performance, the researchers found…
But while the results suggest that “nature” matters a bit more than “nurture” for intelligence, Hopkins said other findings don’t support that interpretation. Environment and experience still have an influence on cognitive performance. For example, if you compare chimps that have been trained to use sign language to ones that haven’t, the trained animals do much better on cognitive tests, he said. “So there’s a case where nurture really matters.”

Curiously, the results of the study support the idea of general intelligence, rather than the theory of multiple intelligences — such as mathematical, verbal or musical ability — that American psychologist Howard Gardner developed. General intelligence suggests that individuals posses a general learning ability that makes it likely that a person who possesses one form of intelligence will posses others.


Why whale poo could be the secret to reversing the effects of climate change

A new scientific report from the University of Vermont, which gathers together several decades of research, shows that the great whales which nearly became extinct in the 20th century – and are now recovering in number due to the 1983 ban on whaling – may be the enablers of massive carbon sinks via their prodigious production of faeces.

Not only do the nutrients in whale poo feed other organisms, from phytoplankton upwards – and thereby absorb the carbon we humans are pumping into the atmosphere – even in death the sinking bodies of these massive animals create new resources on the sea bed, where entire species exist solely to graze on rotting whale. There’s an additional and direct benefit for humans, too. Contrary to the suspicions of fishermen that whales take their catch, cetacean recovery could “lead to higher rates of productivity in locations where whales aggregate to feed and give birth”. Their fertilizing faeces here, too, would encourage phytoplankton which in turn would encourage healthier fisheries.
(Read more…)

Why whale poo could be the secret to reversing the effects of climate change

new scientific report from the University of Vermont, which gathers together several decades of research, shows that the great whales which nearly became extinct in the 20th century – and are now recovering in number due to the 1983 ban on whaling – may be the enablers of massive carbon sinks via their prodigious production of faeces.

Not only do the nutrients in whale poo feed other organisms, from phytoplankton upwards – and thereby absorb the carbon we humans are pumping into the atmosphere – even in death the sinking bodies of these massive animals create new resources on the sea bed, where entire species exist solely to graze on rotting whale. There’s an additional and direct benefit for humans, too. Contrary to the suspicions of fishermen that whales take their catch, cetacean recovery could “lead to higher rates of productivity in locations where whales aggregate to feed and give birth”. Their fertilizing faeces here, too, would encourage phytoplankton which in turn would encourage healthier fisheries.

(Read more…)



Plants Can Hear Themselves Being Eaten

A small, flowering plant called Arabidopsis thaliana can hear the vibrations that caterpillars trigger when they chew on its leaves. According to a new study, the plants can hear danger loud and clear, and they respond by launching a chemical defense. 
From anecdotes and previous studies, we know that plants respond to wind, touch, and acoustic energy. “The field is somewhat haunted by its history of playing music to plants. That sort of stimulus is so divorced from the natural ecology of plants that it’s very difficult to interpret any plant responses,” says Rex Cocroft from the University of Missouri, Columbia. “We’re trying to think about the plant’s acoustical environment and what it might be listening for.”
In this first example of plants responding to ecologically relevant vibrational sounds (i.e. predation), Cocroft and Mizzou’s Heidi Appel combined audio and chemical analyses. First, they placed a tiny piece of reflective tape on a leaf; that way, using a laser beam, they can measure the leaf’s movements as the caterpillar munches. 
After they recorded the seemingly inaudible vibrational sounds of caterpillar chewing, they played the recordings back to one set of Arabidopsis plants, while silence was played to another set. To mimic the acoustic signature of feeding, they used piezoelectric actuators, tiny speakers that play vibrations instead of airborne sound. “It’s a delicate process to vibrate leaves the way a caterpillar does while feeding, because the leaf surface is only vibrated up and down by about 1/10,000 of an inch,” Cocroft explains in an university blog post. “But we can attach an actuator to the leaf with wax and very precisely play back a segment of caterpillar feeding to recreate a typical 2-hour feeding session.”
Then, they let cabbage butterfly caterpillars eat about a third of three leaves on each plant from both sets. They gave the plants 24 to 48 hours to respond to the attack, after which the leaves were harvested. “We looked at glucosinolates that make mustards spicy and have anticancer properties and anthocyanins that give red wine its color and provide some of the health benefits to chocolate,” Appel says. “When the levels of these are higher, the insects walk away or just don’t start feeding.”

Plants Can Hear Themselves Being Eaten

A small, flowering plant called Arabidopsis thaliana can hear the vibrations that caterpillars trigger when they chew on its leaves. According to a new study, the plants can hear danger loud and clear, and they respond by launching a chemical defense. 

From anecdotes and previous studies, we know that plants respond to wind, touch, and acoustic energy. “The field is somewhat haunted by its history of playing music to plants. That sort of stimulus is so divorced from the natural ecology of plants that it’s very difficult to interpret any plant responses,” says Rex Cocroft from the University of Missouri, Columbia. “We’re trying to think about the plant’s acoustical environment and what it might be listening for.”

In this first example of plants responding to ecologically relevant vibrational sounds (i.e. predation), Cocroft and Mizzou’s Heidi Appel combined audio and chemical analyses. First, they placed a tiny piece of reflective tape on a leaf; that way, using a laser beam, they can measure the leaf’s movements as the caterpillar munches. 

After they recorded the seemingly inaudible vibrational sounds of caterpillar chewing, they played the recordings back to one set of Arabidopsis plants, while silence was played to another set. To mimic the acoustic signature of feeding, they used piezoelectric actuators, tiny speakers that play vibrations instead of airborne sound. “It’s a delicate process to vibrate leaves the way a caterpillar does while feeding, because the leaf surface is only vibrated up and down by about 1/10,000 of an inch,” Cocroft explains in an university blog post. “But we can attach an actuator to the leaf with wax and very precisely play back a segment of caterpillar feeding to recreate a typical 2-hour feeding session.”

Then, they let cabbage butterfly caterpillars eat about a third of three leaves on each plant from both sets. They gave the plants 24 to 48 hours to respond to the attack, after which the leaves were harvested. “We looked at glucosinolates that make mustards spicy and have anticancer properties and anthocyanins that give red wine its color and provide some of the health benefits to chocolate,” Appel says. “When the levels of these are higher, the insects walk away or just don’t start feeding.”



An Oculus Rift For Chickens Gives Animals The Freedom To Roam Without The Roaming

…
It sounds absurd because it is, in part; Stewart’s so-called Second Livestock project is actually more of a social experiment than a genuine project aiming to bring virtual reality to farm flocks. He’s pitching it via a website with a deadpan seriousness that is fairly convincing, right down to the description of what are essentially high density livestock condominium complexes that purport to generate as little waste as possible by recycling waste and using animal body heat as the source for facility environment controls.
Stewart’s MO is to create tech-based projects that shed light on our relationship with gadgets and the world, however, and the way in which we can sometimes lean too heavily on tech in pursuit of relatively simple ends without stopping to consider how we might do it better without the bells and whistles. But in the end, the project isn’t designed to purely deride tech, its users or the people he claims to be selling to. Instead, Stewart hopes to spark discussion among even audiences that normally gloss over tech pitches about what we’re creating with digital environments.

An Oculus Rift For Chickens Gives Animals The Freedom To Roam Without The Roaming

It sounds absurd because it is, in part; Stewart’s so-called Second Livestock project is actually more of a social experiment than a genuine project aiming to bring virtual reality to farm flocks. He’s pitching it via a website with a deadpan seriousness that is fairly convincing, right down to the description of what are essentially high density livestock condominium complexes that purport to generate as little waste as possible by recycling waste and using animal body heat as the source for facility environment controls.
Stewart’s MO is to create tech-based projects that shed light on our relationship with gadgets and the world, however, and the way in which we can sometimes lean too heavily on tech in pursuit of relatively simple ends without stopping to consider how we might do it better without the bells and whistles. But in the end, the project isn’t designed to purely deride tech, its users or the people he claims to be selling to. Instead, Stewart hopes to spark discussion among even audiences that normally gloss over tech pitches about what we’re creating with digital environments.


Tiny Bubbles Explain Puzzle about Light from Sound


Sonoluminescence¿the physical phenomenon by which sound turns into light¿is as mystifying as a magic trick. Despite 70 years of trying, scientists still cannot fully explain how a bubble of air in water focuses acoustic energy a trillionfold to spit out picosecond bursts of ultraviolet radiation. Initially physicists attributed the flashes to friction. In the late 1980s, though, they came to see that bubbles in a sound wave’s path expanded and rapidly collapsed¿heating the gas inside them to temperatures hotter than the sun’s surface. This collapse and heat, they determined, created a glowing plasma.
In this week’s issue of Physical Review Letters, Gary A. Williams and his colleagues from the University of California at Los Angeles present evidence that lends further support to that theory. The researchers set out to explain earlier observations that the spectra of light from a single bubble lacked an emission line¿for the molecule OH¿seen from multiple bubbles. Because of the discrepancy, some had suggested that different physical mechanisms were at work and that there were, in essence, two kinds of sonoluminescence. But Williams’s group proved that isn’t the case, creating larger-than-usual single bubbles whose spectra included the missing emission.
Although they don’t know why, the researchers say that bubble size alone seems to predict the OH line and suggest that, compared with smaller single bubbles that collapse symmetrically (top right), larger bubbles in multibubble systems are unstable (bottom right). The team further fitted the spectra to a blackbody radiation curve and showed that it corresponded to plasma at a temperature of about 8,000 degrees Kelvin. “It’s a nice connecting together of the underlying physical phenomena,” Ken Suslick of the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign toldPhysical Review Focus. “And the ability to recognize the OH emission line is pretty cool.”

Tiny Bubbles Explain Puzzle about Light from Sound

Sonoluminescence¿the physical phenomenon by which sound turns into light¿is as mystifying as a magic trick. Despite 70 years of trying, scientists still cannot fully explain how a bubble of air in water focuses acoustic energy a trillionfold to spit out picosecond bursts of ultraviolet radiation. Initially physicists attributed the flashes to friction. In the late 1980s, though, they came to see that bubbles in a sound wave’s path expanded and rapidly collapsed¿heating the gas inside them to temperatures hotter than the sun’s surface. This collapse and heat, they determined, created a glowing plasma.

In this week’s issue of Physical Review Letters, Gary A. Williams and his colleagues from the University of California at Los Angeles present evidence that lends further support to that theory. The researchers set out to explain earlier observations that the spectra of light from a single bubble lacked an emission line¿for the molecule OH¿seen from multiple bubbles. Because of the discrepancy, some had suggested that different physical mechanisms were at work and that there were, in essence, two kinds of sonoluminescence. But Williams’s group proved that isn’t the case, creating larger-than-usual single bubbles whose spectra included the missing emission.

Although they don’t know why, the researchers say that bubble size alone seems to predict the OH line and suggest that, compared with smaller single bubbles that collapse symmetrically (top right), larger bubbles in multibubble systems are unstable (bottom right). The team further fitted the spectra to a blackbody radiation curve and showed that it corresponded to plasma at a temperature of about 8,000 degrees Kelvin. “It’s a nice connecting together of the underlying physical phenomena,” Ken Suslick of the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign toldPhysical Review Focus. “And the ability to recognize the OH emission line is pretty cool.”



Scientists Have Simulated Time Travel With Photons
June 20, 2014
Looks like time travel is possible… for particles of light. 
Using a photon, physicists have managed to simulate quantum particles traveling through time. Studying the photon’s behavior could help scientists understand some inexplicable aspects of modern physics.  
"The question of time travel features at the interface between two of our most successful yet incompatible physical theories — Einstein’s general relativity and quantum mechanics," University of Queensland’s Martin Ringbauer says in a news release. “Einstein’s theory describes the world at the very large scale of stars and galaxies, while quantum mechanics is an excellent description of the world at the very small scale of atoms and molecules.”
Time slows down or speeds up depending on how fast you move relative to another object. Einstein’s theory suggests the possibility of traveling backwards in time by following a space-time path that returns to the starting point in space — but at an earlier time. This is called a closed timelike curve (pictured above). It’s a traversable wormhole. 
In a quantum regime, the authors say, the paradox of time travel can be resolved, leaving closed timelike curves consistent with relativity. Near a black hole, for example, the extreme effects of general relativity play a role. 
Pictured above, a space-time structure exhibiting closed paths in space (horizontal) and time (vertical). A quantum particle travels through a wormhole back in time and returns to the same location in space and time.
"The properties of quantum particles are ‘fuzzy’ or uncertain to start with, so this gives them enough wiggle room to avoid inconsistent time travel situations," UQ’s Tim Ralph explains. “Our study provides insights into where and how nature might behave differently from what our theories predict.” These include the violation of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, cracking of quantum cryptography, and perfect cloning of quantum states. 
The work was published in Nature Communications this week. 
Read more at http://www.iflscience.com/physics/scientists-have-simulated-time-travel-photons#YvtzusYZdHfFPmvk.99

Scientists Have Simulated Time Travel With Photons

June 20, 2014

Looks like time travel is possible… for particles of light. 

Using a photon, physicists have managed to simulate quantum particles traveling through time. Studying the photon’s behavior could help scientists understand some inexplicable aspects of modern physics.  

"The question of time travel features at the interface between two of our most successful yet incompatible physical theories — Einstein’s general relativity and quantum mechanics," University of Queensland’s Martin Ringbauer says in a news release. “Einstein’s theory describes the world at the very large scale of stars and galaxies, while quantum mechanics is an excellent description of the world at the very small scale of atoms and molecules.”

Time slows down or speeds up depending on how fast you move relative to another object. Einstein’s theory suggests the possibility of traveling backwards in time by following a space-time path that returns to the starting point in space — but at an earlier time. This is called a closed timelike curve (pictured above). It’s a traversable wormhole. 

In a quantum regime, the authors say, the paradox of time travel can be resolved, leaving closed timelike curves consistent with relativity. Near a black hole, for example, the extreme effects of general relativity play a role. 

Pictured above, a space-time structure exhibiting closed paths in space (horizontal) and time (vertical). A quantum particle travels through a wormhole back in time and returns to the same location in space and time.

"The properties of quantum particles are ‘fuzzy’ or uncertain to start with, so this gives them enough wiggle room to avoid inconsistent time travel situations," UQ’s Tim Ralph explains. “Our study provides insights into where and how nature might behave differently from what our theories predict.” These include the violation of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, cracking of quantum cryptography, and perfect cloning of quantum states. 

The work was published in Nature Communications this week. 


Read more at http://www.iflscience.com/physics/scientists-have-simulated-time-travel-photons#YvtzusYZdHfFPmvk.99



pbsdigitalstudios:

"Time Flies When You Have No Idea Why It Exists" … or something like that. Learn about time: http://youtu.be/-LZq_w-tIl8

"The universe fits our expectations because our expectations were written by the universe." 

pbsdigitalstudios:

"Time Flies When You Have No Idea Why It Exists" … or something like that. Learn about time: http://youtu.be/-LZq_w-tIl8

"The universe fits our expectations because our expectations were written by the universe." 



Ginkgo doesn't work: Are there better ways to save your brain?

…In the new study, the largest of its kind to date, DeKosky and his colleagues followed more than 3,000 people between the ages of 72 and 96 for an average of six years. Half of the participants took two 120-milligram capsules of ginkgo a day during the study period, and the other half took a placebo.

The people who took ginkgo showed no differences in attention, memory, and other cognitive measures compared to those who took the placebo, according to the study, which was published in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association.

…DeKosky says he and his colleagues were surprised to find that ginkgo failed to produce any benefit, given how long the herb has been used and how many people swear by it. “We figured that if [ginkgo] was still in use and still endorsed by people — even if it’s only your grandmother — it probably does have some basis to it,” he says…

Ginkgo may not be effective, but there are many other healthy habits you can try to help keep your brain healthy:

Exercise your mind. Activities that stimulate the brain — such as learning a new language, playing brain-teasing games, or doing crossword puzzles — appear to delay the onset of dementia, says Steinerman, although it’s still unclear if they can actually prevent or slow down cognitive decline. These activities can’t hurt, however, and many new brain games for computers and video-game consoles (such as Brain Age and Brain Challenge) provide more options than ever before.

Exercise your body. The evidence linking physical activity with slower cognitive decline is convincing, says Steinerman. Animal studies have shown that exercise targets a part of the brain directly related to memory and aging, and other research suggests that even moderate exercise — a weekly bike ride, say — is associated with maintaining cognitive function.

Manage stress. Staying as stress-free as possible is essential for maintaining your sanity in the short term, but it may also be important to your long-term brain function. “High levels of stress can kill nerve cells in the most important areas of the brain for memory,” says Steinerman. “Stress can actually accelerate cognitive decline and increase the risk for Alzheimer’s.”

Eat right. Diets that are good for the heart are also believed to have beneficial effects on the brain, says Steinerman. Research suggests that a diet rich in fish, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats may promote brain health. A 2009 study in the Archives of Neurology, for instance, found that people who adhered most closely to the Mediterranean Diet had a 28 percent lower risk for mild cognitive decline than those who didn’t stick to the diet.

Make friends. Having a rich social life may help delay cognitive decline (although it may not reverse it). Studies have shown that “more social contacts and more social interactions [appear] to be present in people who [don’t] develop dementia,” says DeKosky. “Your number of social contacts [translates] into some kind of brain change” that affects your risk of developing dementia, he says.

None of these habits is a silver bullet, however, and they are probably most effective in combination, says Steinerman.



Scientists learn to selectively erase and restore memories in brain

“We can form a memory, erase that memory and we can reactivate it, at will, by applying a stimulus that selectively strengthens or weakens synaptic connections,” study senior researcher Dr. Roberto Malinow, a professor of neurosciences said in a university press release.

Scientists learn to selectively erase and restore memories in brain

“We can form a memory, erase that memory and we can reactivate it, at will, by applying a stimulus that selectively strengthens or weakens synaptic connections,” study senior researcher Dr. Roberto Malinow, a professor of neurosciences said in a university press release.



anarcho-queer:

Study Reveals It Costs Much Less to House The Homeless Than to Leave Them on the Street

Not only is it morally wrong to let people live desperately on the streets, but it doesn’t make much economical sense either.

A new study has found that it’s significantly cheaper to house the homeless than leave them on the streets.

University of North Carolina Charlotte researchers released a study on Monday that tracked chronically homeless adults housed in the Moore Place facility run by Charlotte’s Urban Ministry Center (UMC) in partnership with local government. Housing these people led to dramatic cost savings that more than paid for the cost of putting them in decent housing, including $1.8 million in health care savings from 447 fewer ER visits (78% reduction) and 372 fewer hospital days (79% reduction). Tenants also spent 84 fewer days in jail, with a 72% drop in arrests.

Moore Place cost $6 million in land and construction costs, and tenants are required to contribute 30% of their income (mainly benefits) towards rent. The remainder of the $14,000 per tenant annually is covered by donations and local and federal funding. According to the UNCC study, that $14,000 pales in comparison to the costs a chronically homeless person racks up every year to society — a stunning $39,458 in combined medical, judicial and other costs.

What’s more, Moore Place is enabling the formerly homeless to find their own sources of income. Without housing, just 50% were able to generate any income. One year after move-in, they’re up to 82%. And after an average length of 7 years of homelessness, 94% of the original tenants retained their housing after 18 months, with a 99% rent collection rate.

The general population is biased: The original proposal for Moore Place was “controversial, if not ridiculed,” according to the Charlotte Observer. Locals mocked the idea that giving the homeless subsidized housing would do any good. A 2011 report commissioned by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority found that people have condescending attitudes towards the homeless, with the public perceiving higher levels of substance abuse problems (91%) and mental health issues (85%) than reported by the homeless themselves (41% and 24% respectively). It concluded that if “personal failings as the main cause of homelessness, it is unlikely that they will vote for increased public assistance or volunteer to help the homeless themselves.

But “you can’t argue with the statistics," said UMC housing director Caroline Chambre. “This approach was controversial at one time because of the stereotype of who the homeless are, and we had to change that stereotype.

In 2012, total welfare spending for the poor was just 0.47% of the federal budget. It turns out that maybe if we spent a little more to help the chronically destitute solve their problems, we could save a lot of money.



fightingforanimals:

Why feeding water birds bread is harmful:
Duckling Malnutrition: In an area where ducks are regularly fed bread, ducklings will not receive adequate nutrition for proper growth and development. Furthermore, because ducks will naturally seek out an easy food source such as human handouts, ducklings will not learn to forage for natural foods as easily.
Overcrowding: Where an easy food source is abundant, ducks and other waterfowl will lay more eggs and the pond or lake will become overcrowded. This makes it more difficult for the birds to seek out healthier food sources and increases the likelihood of territorial aggression.
Pollution: When too much bread is offered to ducks, not all of it will be eaten. The soggy, uneaten bread is unsightly and rotting bread can create noxious odors as well as lead to greater algae growth that can clog natural waterways. This concentrates the pollution and can eventually eradicate fish and other life in the vicinity.
Diseases: Feeding ducks bread can increase the spread of diseases in two ways. First, a carbohydrate-rich diet leads to greater defecation, and bird feces easily harbor bacteria responsible for numerous diseases, including avian botulism. Second, moldy bread can cause aspergillosis, a fatal lung infection that can decimate entire duck and waterfowl flocks.
Pest Attraction: Rotting supplies of food leftover from sated ducks will attract other unwelcome pests such as rats, mice and insects. These pests can also harbor additional diseases that can be dangerous to humans.
Loss of Natural Behaviour: When birds become accustomed to handouts, they lose their natural fear of humans and may become aggressive in order to get more food. Their loss of fear can also cause other dangers, such as a willingness to cross busy roads in order to reach picnickers and other likely sources of food.
Good Foods to Feed Ducks:
The best foods for ducks are those that provide the nutrients, minerals and vitamins the birds need for healthy growth and development. Many of these foods are similar to the natural seeds, grains and plants the birds will forage on their own. As omnivorous birds, ducks will eat a great deal of different foods, and the best foods to offer ducks include:
Cracked corn
Wheat, barley or similar grains
Oats (uncooked; rolled or quick)
Rice (cooked or uncooked)
Birdseed (any type or mix)
Grapes (cut in half)
Frozen peas or corn (defrosted, no need to cook)
Earthworms
Mealworms (fresh or dried)
Chopped lettuce or other greens or salad mixes
Vegetable trimmings or peels (chopped)
Duck feed pellets or poultry starter pellets (x)

fightingforanimals:

Why feeding water birds bread is harmful:

  • Duckling Malnutrition: In an area where ducks are regularly fed bread, ducklings will not receive adequate nutrition for proper growth and development. Furthermore, because ducks will naturally seek out an easy food source such as human handouts, ducklings will not learn to forage for natural foods as easily.
  • Overcrowding: Where an easy food source is abundant, ducks and other waterfowl will lay more eggs and the pond or lake will become overcrowded. This makes it more difficult for the birds to seek out healthier food sources and increases the likelihood of territorial aggression.
  • Pollution: When too much bread is offered to ducks, not all of it will be eaten. The soggy, uneaten bread is unsightly and rotting bread can create noxious odors as well as lead to greater algae growth that can clog natural waterways. This concentrates the pollution and can eventually eradicate fish and other life in the vicinity.
  • Diseases: Feeding ducks bread can increase the spread of diseases in two ways. First, a carbohydrate-rich diet leads to greater defecation, and bird feces easily harbor bacteria responsible for numerous diseases, including avian botulism. Second, moldy bread can cause aspergillosis, a fatal lung infection that can decimate entire duck and waterfowl flocks.
  • Pest Attraction: Rotting supplies of food leftover from sated ducks will attract other unwelcome pests such as rats, mice and insects. These pests can also harbor additional diseases that can be dangerous to humans.
  • Loss of Natural Behaviour: When birds become accustomed to handouts, they lose their natural fear of humans and may become aggressive in order to get more food. Their loss of fear can also cause other dangers, such as a willingness to cross busy roads in order to reach picnickers and other likely sources of food.

Good Foods to Feed Ducks:

The best foods for ducks are those that provide the nutrients, minerals and vitamins the birds need for healthy growth and development. Many of these foods are similar to the natural seeds, grains and plants the birds will forage on their own. As omnivorous birds, ducks will eat a great deal of different foods, and the best foods to offer ducks include:

  • Cracked corn
  • Wheat, barley or similar grains
  • Oats (uncooked; rolled or quick)
  • Rice (cooked or uncooked)
  • Birdseed (any type or mix)
  • Grapes (cut in half)
  • Frozen peas or corn (defrosted, no need to cook)
  • Earthworms
  • Mealworms (fresh or dried)
  • Chopped lettuce or other greens or salad mixes
  • Vegetable trimmings or peels (chopped)
  • Duck feed pellets or poultry starter pellets (x)


The Opal’s Fire

Opals, a rainbow of fire locked in rock, are among the most wonderful of nature’s gifts. Maggie Koerth-Baker returns with the light truth about weird silica.

The Opal’s Fire

Opals, a rainbow of fire locked in rock, are among the most wonderful of nature’s gifts. Maggie Koerth-Baker returns with the light truth about weird silica.




The Universe Isn’t a Fractal, Study Finds






This image of the large-scale universe is a slice from a large simulation called ‘GiggleZ’ which complements the WiggleZ survey. It shows a snapshot of the large-scale matter distribution. Released Aug. 21, 2012. 







Credit: Greg Poole, Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University
View full size image



The finding comes from Morag Scrimgeour at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) at the University of Western Australia in Perth and her colleagues. Using the Anglo-Australian Telescope, the researchers pinpointed the locations of 200,000 galaxies filling a cubic volume 3 billion light-years on a side. The survey, called the WiggleZ Dark Energy Survey, probed the structure of the universe at larger scales than any survey before it.  
The researchers found that matter is distributed extremely evenly throughout the universe on extremely large distance scales, with little sign of fractal-like patterns. [5 Mind-Boggling Math Facts]
Scrimgeour explained the process that led to that conclusion. “We placed imaginary spheres around galaxies in the [WiggleZ survey] and counted the number of galaxies in the spheres,” she explained in a video. “We wanted to compare this to a random homogeneous distribution” — one in which galaxies are spread evenly throughout space —”so we generated a random distribution of points and counted the number of random galaxies inside spheres of the same size.”
The researchers then compared the number of WiggleZ galaxies inside the spheres with the number of random galaxies inside the similar spheres. When the spheres contained small volumes of space, WiggleZ galaxies were much more clumped together inside them than were the random galaxies. “But as we go to large spheres, this ratio tends to 1, which means we count the same number of Wigglez galaxies as random galaxies,” Scrimgeour said.
And that means matter is evenly distributed throughout the universe at large distance scales, and thus that the universe isn’t a fractal.
If it had been fractal-like, “it would mean our whole picture of the universe could be wrong,” Scrimgeour said. According to the accepted history of the universe, there hasn’t been enough time since the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago for gravity to generate such large structures.
Furthermore, the assumption that matter is distributed evenly throughout the cosmos has allowed cosmologists to model the universe using Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which relates the geometry of space-time to the matter spread uniformly within it.
Turns out, both assumptions are safe.


Stephen Hawking Says A.I. Could Be Our ‘Worst Mistake In History’

The world’s most famous physicist is warning about the risks posed by machine superintelligence, saying that it could be the most significant thing to ever happen in human history — and possibly the last.

Stephen Hawking Says A.I. Could Be Our ‘Worst Mistake In History’

The world’s most famous physicist is warning about the risks posed by machine superintelligence, saying that it could be the most significant thing to ever happen in human history — and possibly the last.