• Bird brains suggest how vocal learning evolved

    DURHAM, N.C. – Though they perch far apart on the avian family tree, birds with the ability to learn songs use similar brain structures to sing their tunes. Neurobiologists at Duke University Medical Center now have an explanation for this puzzling likeness. In all three groups of birds with vocal learning abilities – songbirds, parrots and hummingbirds – the brain structures for singing and learning to sing are embedded in areas controlling movement, the researchers discovered. The team also found that areas in charge of movement share many functional similarities with the brain areas for singing. >> Read the Full Article
  • Measuring The Wind To Optimize For Wind Energy

    Researchers at the Endowed Chair of Wind Energy (SWE) of the University of Stuttgart are working together with researchers from the University of Oldenburg and other project partners on an alternative remote sensing technique. LIDAR technology (Light Detection and Ranging) is being developed and tested for wind energy applications. This laser-based measurement technique performs wind field measurements in a more flexible and economical way. Currently, LIDAR is the best candidate to replace the met mast based wind measurements, used in power curve calculations, for offshore wind farms. >> Read the Full Article
  • Wandering Albatrosses Follow Their Nose

    "This is the first time anyone has looked at the odor-tracking behavior of individual birds in the wild using remote techniques," said Gabrielle Nevitt, professor of neurobiology, physiology and behavior at UC Davis and an author on the study with UC Davis graduate student Marcel Losekoot of the Bodega Marine Laboratory and Henri Weimerskirch of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France. Wandering albatrosses fly for thousands of miles across the ocean, usually gliding a few feet above sea level. Floating carrion, especially squid, make up a large part of their diet. >> Read the Full Article
  • US stands to lose a generation of young researchers

    (Washington, D.C.) – Five consecutive years of flat funding the budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is deterring promising young researchers and threatening the future of Americans’ health, a group of seven preeminent academic research institutions warned today. In a new report released here, the group of concerned institutions (six research universities and a major teaching hospital) described the toll that cumulative stagnant NIH funding is taking on the American medical research enterprise. And the leading institutions warned that if NIH does not get consistent and robust support in the future, the nation will lose a generation of young investigators to other careers and other countries and, with them, a generation of promising research that could cure disease for millions for whom no cure currently exists. >> Read the Full Article
  • Tiny Palau skeletons suggest "hobbits" were dwarfs

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Tiny skeletons found in the caves of the Pacific islands of Palau undercut the theory that similar remains found in Indonesia might be a unique new species of humans, researchers reported on Monday. The Palau skeletons, which date to between 900 and 2,800 years ago, appear to have belonged to so-called insular dwarfs -- humans who grew smaller as a result of living on an island, the researchers said. >> Read the Full Article
  • Colourful idea sparks renewable electricity from paint

    Dr Dave Worsley (pictured), a Reader in the Materials Research Centre at the University's School of Engineering, is investigating ways of painting solar cells onto the flexible steel surfaces commonly used for cladding buildings. "We have been collaborating with the steel industry for decades," explains Dr Worsely, "but have tended to focus our attention on improving the long-term durability and corrosion-resistance of the steel. We haven't really paid much attention to how we can make the outside of the steel capable of doing something other than looking good. >> Read the Full Article
  • Britain makes camera that "sees" under clothes

    LONDON (Reuters) - A British company has developed a camera that can detect weapons, drugs or explosives hidden under people's clothes from up to 25 meters away in what could be a breakthrough for the security industry. The T5000 camera, created by a company called ThruVision, uses what it calls "passive imaging technology" to identify objects by the natural electromagnetic rays -- known as Terahertz or T-rays -- that they emit. >> Read the Full Article
  • MIT tackles urban gridlock with foldable car idea

    CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (Reuters) - Wouldn't it be nice to drive a car into town without worrying about finding a parking space? Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have devised just such a vehicle, a futuristic "City Car" that could even drive itself. >> Read the Full Article
  • Low-cost reusable material could capture carbon dioxide from power plants

    Researchers have developed a new, low-cost material for capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants and other generators of the greenhouse gas. Produced with a simple one-step chemical process, the new material has a high capacity for absorbing carbon dioxide – and can be reused many times. Combined with improved heat management techniques, the new material could provide a cost-effective way to capture large quantities of carbon dioxide from coal-burning facilities. Existing CO2 capture techniques involve the use of solid materials that lack sufficient stability for repeated use – or liquid adsorbents that are expensive and require significant amounts of energy. >> Read the Full Article
  • Indian government boosts science spending

    [NEW DELHI] India's new science budget, announced last week (29 February) includes a 16 per cent increase in science spending. The 2008–09 budget also includes a new fund to attract students to science careers, the establishment of three new Indian Institutes of Technology and a rise in funds for manned space missions. The total science budget is just over US$6 billion (around 242 billion Indian Rupees), compared with last year's budget of around US$5 billion. >> Read the Full Article