Sci/tech

Gifted Research Parrot Alex Found Dead
September 11, 2007 11:37 AM - Associated Press

A gifted parrot that could count to six, identify colors and even express frustration with repetitive scientific trials has died after 30 years of helping researchers better understand the avian brain. The death of Alex, an African Grey parrot, left scientists at Brandeis University feeling as if they'd lost a colleague.

Ecosystems At Risk When Estrogens Mix With Other Chemicals
September 11, 2007 11:11 AM - Dr. Ed Orlando and Wendy Hessler, Environmental Health News

New experiments reveal that the synthetic estrogen used by women for birth control causes wide ranging health effects in minnows, but that the effects were different from when the drug was tested alone compared with when it was mixed with wastewater effluent. The tests found that when the estrogen, called 17α-ethinylestradiol, showed up in the water along with municipal wastewater, it caused feminization of male fish, altered their DNA integrity, changed their immune cell numbers and the ability to breakdown pollutants.

Researcher finds lake boiling with methane
September 11, 2007 10:59 AM - University of Alaska Fairbanks

Last month, UAF researcher Katey Walter brought a National Public Radio crew to Alaska’s North Slope, hoping to show them examples of what happens when methane is released when permafrost thaws beneath lakes.

Was ability to run early man's Achilles heel?
September 11, 2007 08:29 AM - University of Manchester

The earliest humans almost certainly walked upright on two legs but may have struggled to run at even half the speed of modern man, new research suggests. The University of Manchester study — presented to the BA (British Association for the Advancement of Science) Festival of Science in York on Tuesday — proposes that if early humans lacked an Achilles tendon, as modern chimps and gorillas do, then their ability to run would have been severely compromised.

Overweight Trucks Damage Infrastructure
September 11, 2007 07:32 AM - Aprol Castro -Associated Press

More than a half-million overweight trucks are allowed onto the nation's roads and bridges - an increasingly routine practice that some officials say is putting dangerous wear and tear on an already groaning infrastructure.

Primate behavior explained by computer "agents"
September 11, 2007 07:21 AM - University of Bath

The complex behaviour of primates can be understood using artificially-intelligent computer ”˜agents’ that mimic their actions, shows new research published in a special edition of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B and presented at the BA Festival of Science in York.

Astronomers Eager To Add To Sky On Google Earth
September 10, 2007 12:53 PM - Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley News

BERKELEY — Since Sky in Google Earth debuted two weeks ago to let the public explore the heavens from their computers, two University of California, Berkeley, astronomers have jumped in to populate Google's sky with the most recently discovered heavenly objects. One piece of the Sky in Google Earth, showing 7 planetary systems around nearby stars (blue & gold ovals) and a recently discovered gamma-ray burst in the constellation of Gemini (diamond-ring object). By clicking on these icons, Google Sky users can pull up detailed information about exoplanets and sudden flashes of light in the sky.

Wow, Apple Sells One Millionth iPhone
September 10, 2007 09:48 AM - Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Apple Inc said on Monday it has sold its one-millionth iPhone, just days after it cut the price of its smartphone by $200.

Studying Evidence From Ice Age Lakes
September 10, 2007 08:26 AM - Geological Survey of Norway

During the last Ice Age, the ice dammed enormous lakes in Russia. The drainage system was reversed several times and the rivers flowed southwards. A group of geologists is now investigating what took place when the ice melted and the lakes released huge volumes of fresh water into the Arctic Ocean.

New Cause Of Blindness Discovered
September 10, 2007 08:20 AM - PLOS

The scientific community is just starting to appreciate the importance of pH regulation in normal vision, according to researchers. Drs Joe Casey and Yves Sauvé found evidence for blindness associated with a gene involved in retinal pH regulation. Their characterization of a mouse model with a targeted disruption of the Slc4a3 gene has revealed a new cause of blindness. Identification of Slc4a3 as underlying a previously unrecognized cause of blindness has direct clinical implications: it opens the door to a new diagnostic possibility for many yet unknown causes of blindness, including hereditary vitreoretinal degenerations (HVDs). No link has been established between Slc4a3 and HVDs.

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