Saturday, June 12, 2010

Spider study: Women are dirty fighters, men have dance-offs.

From Discovery, thanks to Coozer-Phile Jeff!
Pairs of female jumping spiders were matched off in a mini, gladiator-like arena, while researchers recorded fight tactics in an effort to find a pattern.

What did they find? The females fight dirty.

While the males "push each other back and forth like sumo wrestlers," lead author Damian Elias of the University of California at Berkeley said in a press release, the females displayed less civil tactics.

The research is published online in the journal Behavioral Ecology.

"Males have a more gentlemanly form of combat, whereas in females it's an all-out fight," said Elias. "At the drop of a hat they start bashing and biting each other."

Another difference was that the female fights were often duels to the death, whereas males tended to resolve things through elaborate dance displays rather than fighting.

Schumer: Strangle Palestinians until they believe in the Torah.

What a schmuck. From Think Progress (thanks Larissa!):
This past Wednesday, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) delivered a wide-ranging speech at an Orthodox Union event in Washington, D.C. The senator’s lecture touched on areas such as Iran’s nuclear program, the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and several domestic policy issues.

During one point of his speech, Schumer turned his attention to the situation in Gaza. He told the audience that the “Palestinian people still don’t believe in the Jewish state, in a two-state solution,” and also that “they don’t believe in the Torah, in David.” He went on to say “you have to force them to say Israel is here to stay.”

New York’s senior senator explained that the current Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip — which is causing a humanitarian crisis there — is not only justified because it keeps weapons out of the Palestinian territory, but also because it shows the Palestinians living there that “when there’s some moderation and cooperation, they can have an economic advancement.” Summing up his feelings, Schumer emphasized the need to “to strangle them economically until they see that’s not the way to go.”

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Engineers convince ground robots to come together and form flying machine.

It's true - the future gets a little bit closer every day.

For some, that's not such a great prospect, but for Voltron fans at least, news out of Switzerland this week will have them thinking it can't come fast enough

Engineers from the Federal Institute of Technology have built a flying drone that can rebuild itself.

Called the Distributed Flight Array (DAR), the flying platform is enough to bring a tear to the eye of those who remember the giant robot made of vehicles that came together whenever a giant evil adversary presented itself.

Instead of 15 cars, buses and planes, the DFR is made up of four hexagonal modules, although the engineers promise they'll have at least 12 working together within months.

Each of the modules are self-contained with motors, power and on-board computers capable of driving and flying them in their own right.

On the ground, they happily wheel around individually. Give them the signal, though, and they pull together randomly to form a single entity, capable of lifting off the ground.

Personalized toys give you a chance to play with yourself.

By the power of Grayskull! From Orange:

A US toy company is offering the chance to play with yourself - thanks to its personalised action figures.

Oregon-based That's My Face offer to create dolls with life-like mini heads based on photos provided by customers.

The firm uses advanced software to map out a 3D map of your features which they can apply to a scale version of your head.

It is then a matter of choosing a body from the range available - from soldier to photographer - or just buying a head and attaching it to an action figure or doll of your choice.

There is even an option to provide details of an outfit of your choice for your figure.

The company have used famous faces such as Twilight's Robert Pattinson and Colin Farrell to showcase their work.

Spokesman John Keaton says: "I've always been a fan of action figures and thought it would be a great idea to personalise them so you can, in essence, play with yourself."

Prices range from £27 for a head to more than £100 for a custom-made doll.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Indonesian census discovers 157-year-old woman.

Estimates of the size and composition of Indonesia's booming population may remain just that despite an ongoing census, if the "discovery" of a 157-year-old woman is anything to go by.

Census officials have said they believe the woman's claims to have been born in 1853, when Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata debuted in Venice, the Crimean War erupted and San Francisco got its first street signs at intersections.

"There's no authentic data to prove her age but judging from her statements and the age of her adopted daughter, who's now 108 years old, it's difficult to doubt it," statistics bureau official Jhonny Sardjono said.

The only person verified to have lived past 120 years of age was Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 at the age of 122.

South Sumatran villager Turinah would be fully 25 years older than Calment when she died, according to officials.

Even more incredible, she still works around the house and has smoked clove cigarettes all her life, Mr Sardjono said.

"Despite her age she still has an incredible memory, clear sight and has no hearing problems. She speaks Dutch quite fluently," he added. Indonesia was a Dutch colony for hundreds of years until 1945.

He said Turinah burnt all her identification documents to avoid being linked to an alleged communist coup in 1965.

Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous country with a population of about 240 million people.

Men are willing to die for sex.

Study published in No Duh Monthly. From Live Science:
Men evolved willing to risk death for sex, partly explaining why men die faster than women in virtually every country worldwide.

But monogamy and economic equality could counteract this trend — by assuring men they are likely to get some loving, a new study suggests.

The study was published in the current issue of the journal Evolutionary Psychology.

"The name of the game in evolution is to get your genes in the next generation," said study researcher Daniel Kruger of the University of Michigan.

Reproductively speaking, men have more to gain, and less to lose, from risk-taking behavior than women, researchers have long said. Essentially, it's okay if the guy dies, because at least once he's done the initial deed, there a chance his offspring will survive.

Fed-up father of three fights his drug dealing neighbors, makes arrest.

From the Daily Mail:
When a notorious drug dealer moved in next door, Charlie Skinner feared for his young family.

The father of three contacted police after Xiao-Po He started to peddle cocaine and crystal meth on his doorstep.

But when officers failed to respond, telling him instead to keep a log of the activities of the illegal immigrant - who was already on bail at the time for supplying drugs - Mr Skinner decided to take matters into his own hands.

The property developer risked his own life, posing as a customer to slip into his neighbour's flat and challenge the 26-year-old.

He fought off an attack by two of his henchman before chasing the dealer down the street and wrestling him to the ground.

Then the 47-year-old held him in a headlock until police arrived.

Searches revealed the former chef was carrying 3.6g of crystal meth and a search of his home uncovered another 4.48g of the drug. Yesterday Mr Skinner was hailed a hero after the dealer was jailed for six years.

He had been on police bail after being caught in November last year with a stash of drugs worth £12,000 including crystal meth, cocaine, the rave drug ketamine and ecstasy pills in a flat in Camberwell, South London.

But when a court granted him bail, the dealer simply moved and set up shop in a flat next door to Mr Skinner, who lives with his wife Sian, 44, and daughters Florence, 12, Maisie, 11, and son Teddy, nine, in Kennington.

Monday, June 7, 2010

New Cassini findings show possible signs of methane-based life on Titan.

From PopSci:
Something is consuming hydrogen and organic molecules on Saturn's moon Titan, and the recipe matches astrobiologists' theories about possible methane-based life. Granted, there may be other chemical explanations -- it's just that no one knows what they are yet.

New data from the Cassini spacecraft show hydrogen is disappearing near Titan's surface. What's more, scientists have not been able to find acetylene, an organic molecule that should be pretty abundant in the moon's thick atmosphere.

All this fits very nicely with a theory from NASA astrobiologist Chris McKay, who proposed five years ago that microbial life on Titan could breathe hydrogen and eat acetylene, producing methane as a result.

Scientists emphasize that the findings are not proof of life, and there's plenty of work to do before non-biological causes can be ruled out. Scientific conservatism suggests that a biological explanation should be the last choice after all non-biological explanations are addressed," says Mark Allen of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., in a NASA release.

The good news is that even if life is ruled out, the non-biological explanations are still interesting. According to previous studies, hydrogen should be distributed pretty evenly throughout Titan's atmosphere. But it's disappearing at the surface.

Animal-human hybrids banned in some states.

From ABC News:
Dren, the half-human, half-animal hybrid set to terrorize Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley in the new movie "Splice," is pure science fiction, but politicians across the country aren't taking any chances.

In the last month Ohio and Arizona have both passed laws forbidding research of animal human hybrids.

Proponents of the laws fear Dren-like creations and object morally to the combining human and animal cells. But scientists say the research could lead to cure for AIDS, immunize people against cancer, or grow replacement organs.

The potential for medical cures or advances is huge, said Esmail Zanjani, a scientist at the University of Nevada Reno who has created sheep that produce livers that are up to 20 percent human.

"But just because we can do something doesn't mean we should," said Zanjani. "We need to have a full discussion with the public," about this kind of research.