Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Evolution

Researchers in North America are developing a novel way to study the 'evolutionary arms ra...

A duck pond may seem like the ideal place to spend a peaceful spring afternoon, but during mating season it can look like the scene of a gang attack. Though ducks as a species are famously monogamous, unattached drakes can be extremely aggressive. They attack any female in sight in a mating frenzy that often ends in the injury or death of the victim. This has resulted in the ducks developing ways to prevent unwanted matings and the drakes ways to overcome their defenses. Researchers in North America are developing a novel way to study this "evolutionary arms race" that uses high-speed cameras, force transducers and model duck oviducts made of glass.  Read More

Two thirds of the world's population now carries a mobile phone but this was state-of-the-...

In his book The Artificial Ape, Dr Timothy Taylor convincingly argues that humans are biologically a product of technology. If Taylor is correct, then the ground edge stone tool pictured is of enormous significance. Stone tool-use among our earliest hominid ancestors dates to 3.4 million years ago, but the use of grinding to sharpen stone tool edges is very recent. This is the oldest ground-edge stone tool ever found and represents bleeding edge technology 35,000 years ago.  Read More

The upper toothrows of the giant rat compared to the skull of a common rat (Image: Ken Apl...

I’ve always thought of rats as being quite small and lightweight creatures – even verging on dainty. Well someone forgot to tell the rats in East Timor to keep an eye on their calorie count…archaeologists have discovered rodent bones that suggest the biggest rat that ever lived weighed about six kilograms. That’s about as much as a three month old baby!  Read More

The Beyss Go-One Evolution

Picture it: You’re zipping down the road in a sleek, exotic vehicle that looks like it came straight out of Blade Runner. You pull up at a red light, and a gawking onlooker asks what sort of an engine it has. To their amazement, you open the top to reveal that it’s propelled by nothing but the superhuman power of your own body. Well, that fantasy can become a reality if you’re willing to spend several thousand dollars on a velomobile. There are a number of such vehicles being produced, but perhaps none are more lusted-after than the German Beyss Go-One3. That model may soon be upstaged, however, as Beyss is set to release their latest creation, the Go-One Evolution.  Read More

Leonardo da Vinci used the golden ratio in the Mona Lisa

The golden ratio describes a rectangle with a length roughly one and a half times its width. Also known as the golden section, golden mean and divine proportion, among other names, it has intrigued mathematicians and artists alike for centuries. The Egyptians supposedly used it to guide the construction the Pyramids, the architecture of ancient Athens is thought to have been based on it, and many artists have fashioned their works around it. This includes Leonardo da Vinci, who used it in the Mona Lisa and the Vitruvian Man. Now a Duke University scientist believes he has figured out the secret behind the golden ratio’s popularity – and it’s all down to evolution.  Read More

A study on the glue that holds spider webs together brings us closed to producing bioadhes...

Spiders are remarkable animals: with over 40,000 classified species, they are among the most diverse known to man and can adapt to the most radical climatic conditions. The silky substance they produce to spin webs has been extensively studied and is known to rival steel in strength: a less-known fact, however, is that the "glue" that holds it all together is just as remarkable, and could soon become the key to producing stronger bioadhesives to replace petroleum-based products.  Read More

Professor Markram presents at TEDGlobal 2009

The jury is out on whether scientific and technological advancement will ultimately sound the death-knell for the human race, but such concerns have not stopped Henry Markram, director of the Blue Brain Project, from enthusing about the potential benefits of a synthetic human brain at TED Global 2009.  Read More

Logbook from the famous 1872-1876 journey of HMS Challenger goes to auction

A logbook from the famous 1872-1876 journey of HMS Challenger, described at the time as "the greatest advance in the knowledge of our planet since the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries" will go under the hammer in a September auction of exploration, travel and topographical items. Conducted just 13 years after Darwin’s Origin of the Species, Challenger was tasked with constructing a fossil record that would test the new theory of evolution and became inextricably intertwined within the God vs. Science debate.  Read More

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