The Week: Most Recent Science Posts recent posts.en-usThu, 17 Apr 2014 14:31:00 -0400http://theweek.com Recent Science Posts from THE WEEKThu, 17 Apr 2014 14:31:00 -0400How some bugs are like bad Elvis impersonators<img src="" /></P><p class="p1">If you're an Elvis impersonator, your impression better be pretty spot-on if you want to avoid getting heckled by the audience. But if you're any one of a number of animals that mimic other species to survive, a poor impression can mean death. Thankfully, a new study suggests that nature can be pretty forgiving of an imperfect imitation.</p><p class="p1">Some animals defend themselves from predators through what biologists call Batesian mimicry: they take on the appearance of another prey species that's poisonous, dangerous in some other way, or just plain unpalatable. Predators avoid the model species for good...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/matt-soniak" ><span class="byline">Matt Soniak</span></a>Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:31:00 -0400Massive asteroid may have kickstarted the movement of continents<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>The Conversation<br /></p><p>Earth was still a violent place shortly after life began, with regular impactors arriving from space. For the first time, scientists have modeled the effects of one such violent event &mdash; the strike of a giant asteroid. The effects were so catastrophic that, along with the large earthquakes and tsunamis it created, this asteroid may have also set continents into motion.</p><p>The asteroid to blame for this event would have been at least 37km in diameter, which is roughly four times the size of the asteroid that is alleged to have caused the death of dinosaurs. It would have hit the surface of...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Akshat RathiThu, 17 Apr 2014 07:12:00 -0400Why we can't stop procrastinating, according to science<img src="" /></P><p>If you are constantly running late or finding yourself behind on deadline, admit it: You're a procrastinator.</p><p>And you're not alone. A study in <em>Psychological Bulletin</em> by University of Calgary professor Piers Steel showed that the percentage of chronic procrastinators has grown from about 5 percent in 1978 to 26 percent in 2007. (Other researchers have put more recent numbers at around 20 percent, but it&rsquo;s clear the problem is on the rise.)</p><p>So what's going on?</p><p>Part of the reason may have to do with technology, Steel hypothesized. There&rsquo;s so much to do online, and so many different...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/michelle-castillo" ><span class="byline">Michelle Castillo</span></a>Wed, 16 Apr 2014 06:21:00 -0400Conservationists are murdering invasive fish to save the Caribbean. It might be backfiring.<img src="" /></P><p>With their zebra-esque stripes and fluttering spines, the lionfish looks pretty in an aquarium tank. But let them loose in the Atlantic Ocean, and things can get pretty ugly.</p><p>The fish are native to the Indo-Pacific, but were accidentally introduced to this side of the globe a few decades ago. They've since established themselves around the southeastern U.S., the Caribbean, and Central and South America. Here, they wreak havoc, decimating native fish (including commercially important species like snapper and grouper) and upsetting local ecosystems. In just a few years, their numbers in some areas...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/matt-soniak" ><span class="byline">Matt Soniak</span></a>Mon, 14 Apr 2014 10:12:00 -0400How ants use 'death signals' to scavenge for food<img src="" /></P><p>The desert ant <em>‪Cataglyphis‬ fortis</em> doesn't have it easy when it comes to grabbing a bite to eat.</p><p>The ants live as scavengers, picking what they can from dead insects and arachnids on the punishing salt pans (a flat area of desert covered with salt and minerals) of the Sahara Desert. Their meals are scattered, unpredictably, in both space and time, and finding them before the desert heat becomes too much to bear seems challenging. But the ants are able find their meals quickly and dash home as soon as they've found one. Now European biologists have figured out how ants are able to find their...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/matt-soniak" ><span class="byline">Matt Soniak</span></a>Thu, 10 Apr 2014 11:50:00 -0400Listen to a quartet sing while you watch a close-up of their vocal cords<img src="" /></P><p>The human voice box is a strange and amazing thing. In this video of a quartet singing, you can see the voice box in action via laryngoscope &mdash; a tiny camera on a flexible tube inserted through the nose and down the throat.</p><p><iframe width="620" height="465" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p><p>First, you see the camera enter the nostril and continue over the back of the tongue until you see the larynx. The opening in the center is the entrance to the airway. The whitish bands on either side of the opening are the vocal cords. When they are open, that means the singer is taking a breath. When they are closed, the air is being pushed through them, making them...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/arika-okrent" ><span class="byline">Arika Okrent</span></a>Wed, 09 Apr 2014 10:25:00 -0400How to avoid getting sick<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>Even though spring is officially here, not a day goes by where I don't see someone sniffling or coughing. </span><span>Here are seven simple tips to keep in mind that will help prevent cold and flu. </p><p><strong>1. Wash your hands.</strong><br /> This is something you should be doing a lot. Most of what we do every day involves touch. Consider my local coffee shop, at least two &mdash; and often three &mdash; people touch that cup before it even gets to me. I'm not a germaphobe, yet if you're only going to do one thing, do this.</p><p><strong>2. Don't pick your nose, rub your eyes, or otherwise touch your face.</strong><br /> My mom told me "this is the way...</p></span> <a href="">More</a>By Shane ParrishTue, 08 Apr 2014 08:22:00 -0400Here's how to really detect lies<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p><strong>Lying well is hard &mdash; but not in the way you might think.</strong></p><p>We usually look for nervousness as one of the signs of lying. Like the person is worried about getting caught. But that's actually a weak predictor.</p><p>Some people are so confident they don't fear getting caught. Others are great at hiding it.</p><p>Some get nervous when questioned so you get false positives. And others are lying to themselves &mdash; so they show no signs of deliberate deception.</p><p><strong>So lying isn't necessarily hard in terms of stress. But it is hard in terms of "cognitive load." What's that mean?</strong></p><p><strong>Lying is hard because it...</strong></p> <a href="">More</a>By Eric BarkerTue, 08 Apr 2014 08:11:00 -0400Why don't different species have sex more often?<img src="" /></P><p>Desert woodrats and Bryant's woodrats are closely related. So close, in fact, that the two species can interbreed and produce healthy hybrid offspring. What has scientists puzzled is why they don't do it more often.</p><p>Both species are members of the genus <em>Neotoma</em>, collectively known as the packrats. They diverged, probably because of geographic isolation, some 1.6 million years ago. Today, the two species are neighbors again in the American West, and despite their genetic distinctions, they can and do mate where their territories butt against each other and produce hybrid rats.</p><p>In these hybrid...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Matt Soniak Mon, 07 Apr 2014 13:55:00 -0400How 3D printing could revolutionize organ transplants<img src="" /></P><p>Best known for building plastic objects, 3D printers are quickly becoming a promising tool in medicine.</p><p>The medical community has already used the printers to create skulls, tracheas, and even miniature model kidneys. And, one day, they may even be the solution for the organ shortage. <br /> <br /> Dr. Faiz Y. Bhora, associate professor of surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, explained that artificial materials have been long been used in the human body to help fix broken or worn out bones and other internal structures.</p><p>Where 3D printing stands out is that it can help...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/michelle-castillo" ><span class="byline">Michelle Castillo</span></a>Mon, 07 Apr 2014 07:08:00 -0400