Growing algae as a source of fuel could consume vast amounts of water and fertilizer, according to a study by the National Academy of Sciences. There's also a risk that the energy required to produce these fuels would make them impractical. These daunting technical problems need to be overcome if the nation wants to turn to algae fuels as a substitute for gasoline.
We drink a lot of diet soda in this country, so when researchers disavowed a study linking aspartame to rare cancers just before publication, we took notice. The whole issue illustrates what makes scientific studies so confusing to the public. We'll keep you posted on this.
"One common property we see in animal groups from schooling fish to flocking birds to primate groups is that they effectively vote to decide where to go and what to do," says an evolutionary biologist. But like human leaders, successful animal leaders know they can't get too far ahead of their constituents.
Because we had better food, our brains grew bigger than those of our primate cousins, scientists say. Early humans cooked, which makes meat and veggies more digestible and nutrients more available to the body. Plus, there was all that chatting and chewing around the campfire.
Whales are among the great communicators of the animal world. They produce all sorts of sounds: squeaks, whistles and even epic arias worthy of an opera house. But in the mid-1980s, one beluga whale did something that had never been documented before: It imitated human speech.
Adolescent brains have gotten a bad rap, according to neuroscientists. It's true that teenage brains can be impulsive, scientists reported at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in New Orleans. But adolescent brains are also vulnerable, dynamic and highly responsive to positive feedback.
Amateur astronomers recently discovered a planet with four suns. The discovery itself is remarkable — but all the more so because it was made by amateurs. David Greene talks with Arfon Smith from the Adler Planetarium in Chicago about the discovery and the growing contributions that so-called "armchair" astronomers are making to the field.
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