The Psychology of Memory and the 2016 Election

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An intriguing new study uses the 2016 US Presidential election as a tool to examine the organization of human memory. The results show that events that occur around the same time are linked in memory. Remembering one past event tends to trigger the recall of other memories from that time. This chronological clustering makes intuitive sense, but it's a theory that's been debated in psychology for a while, under the name of the temporal-contiguity effect (TCE). According to the authors of th ...read more

Becoming a Bio-Engineer

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  The genetic modification of crops (GMOs) and the concept of designer babies (thanks to CRISPR technology) may be two of the most recognizable, yet controversial, topics related to the field of genetic engineering. At its core, genetic engineering, also known as bioengineering, is the genetic modification of an organism. Some view genetic engineering as an enigmatic topic, shrouded in mystery and limited to the lab. However, genetic engineering isn’t limited to the labora ...read more

Is Gender Identity Unique to Humans?

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This summer, in the introductory course I teach on the evolution and biology of human and animal behavior, I showed my students a website that demonstrates how to identify frog “genders.” I explained that this was a misuse of the term “gender”; what the author meant was how to identify frog sexes. Gender, I told the students, goes far beyond mere sex differences in appearance or behavior. It refers to something complex and abstract that may well be unique to Homo sapiens. ...read more

How Did Human Language Evolve? Scientists Still Don’t Know

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Humans have language and other animals don’t. That’s obvious, but how it happened is not. Since Darwin’s time, scientists have puzzled over the evolution of language. They can observe the present-day product: People today have the capacity for language, whether it be spoken, signed or written. And they can infer the starting state: The communication systems of other apes suggest abilities present in our shared ancestor. But the million-dollar question is what happened in betwe ...read more

Living in Space Makes Our Bodies More Susceptible to Infections

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Even just 30 days in space can significantly reduce our immune system’s ability to fight infection, suggests a new analysis of mice that spent a month aboard an orbiting spacecraft. The research, which was published December 6 in the journal Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, is a recent analysis of data from the Bion-M1 mission, which was a collaborative project carried out by NASA and the Russian Institute of Biomedical Problems in 2013. Space Mice As ...read more

Scientists Find Planets Hidden in a Far-Off Cloud of Gas and Dust

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Planet Hunting In a vast cloud of dust and gas 450 light-years from Earth in the Taurus constellation, scientists have found evidence of a treasure trove of super-Earths and Neptune-sized planets. Using the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, a team of researchers conducted a study of young stars in a gaseous, star-forming region of Taurus. The team observed and imaged 32 stars in the region that are surrounded by protoplanetary disks — rotating disks of dust and gas that surr ...read more

Awesome Ears: The Weird World of Insect Hearing

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In a small windowless room on a sweltering summer’s day, I find myself face-to-face with an entomological rock star. I’m at the University of Lincoln in eastern England, inside an insectary, a room lined with tanks and jars containing plastic plants and dozing insects. Before I know it, I’m being introduced to a vibrant-green katydid from Colombia. “Meet Copiphora gorgonensis,” says Fernando Montealegre-Z, discoverer of this six-legged celebrity. The name’s f ...read more

A Year of Citizen Science Calendar: December

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As a gift to the citizen science community, this holiday season, SciStarter created a beautiful citizen science calendar! This calendar was developed with the help of a lot of people. The Citizen Science Association Listservand Jill Nugent compiled an awesome collection of events, and then Erica Chenoweth took this list and created a Google Calendar with even more citizen science prompts. You can add to the Google Calendar whenever you wish, to ...read more

A New Generation of Atomic Clocks Could Help Find Dark Matter

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Detecting Dark Matter For years, researchers have been hunting for dark matter, which is thought to make up about 27 percent of the entire known universe. Now, an innovative team of scientists says they may have figured out a new way to detect the elusive substance using an international network of atomic clocks. In 1998, with observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists found that the universe was expanding faster and faster, which contradicted the expectation that gravity wou ...read more

Musicians Have Now Used Artificial Intelligence to Master Millions of Songs

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(Inside Science) -- When a song plays on the radio, there are invisible forces at work that go beyond the creative scope of the writing, performing and producing of the song. One of those ineffable qualities is audio mastering, a process that smooths out the song and optimizes the listening experience on any device. Now, artificial intelligence algorithms are starting to work their way into this undertaking. "Mastering is a bit of a black art," explained Thomas Birtchnell, a researcher at ...read more

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