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Through computer analysis, scientists have developed a more objective way of analysing the social behaviour of fruit flies, which could lead to insights into the genetic and neurological mechanisms underlying our own social behaviour. (Photo credit: John Tann, via Flickr)

Is this fruit fly being friendly?

A new computer-based tool for analyzing the social behaviour of fruit flies and could tell us more about how genes affect social behaviour. Previous studies of social behaviour in fruit flies relied on researchers to judge for themselves what constituted a true social interaction. The computer method uses machine vision to analyze the distance between […]

Alternative hospital funding can be risky

A review of worldwide experience with an alternative model of hospital funding suggests that it increases the number of patients needing post-acute care. Activity-based funding (ABF) is a system whereby hospitals are paid a set rate for each episode of care, intended to fund the bundle of services provided to patients with particular diagnoses, as […]

Hydrocarbon contamination from Deepwater Horizon at the seafloor near the Macondo Well, with dots indicating affected coral communities. Lower right inset depicts the molecular structure of hopane. (Credit: Image courtesy of G. Burch Fisher.)

Deepwater Horizon: soiled ocean floor

After the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident, the fate of around two million barrels of oil out of the five million barrels released in the Gulf of Mexico was uncertain. R esearchers now estimate that much of these two million barrels has settled on the ocean floor around the well at a depth of 1.5 km. They looked […]

“An ice core containing ancient caribou feces. For thousands of years, caribou gathered on ice patches to escape summer heat and insects. The caribou feces, which contain caribou DNA, digested plants, and viruses, were frozen within layers of ice, enabling researchers to detect the genomes of ancient viruses.” (Credit: Image courtesy of Brian Moorman)

Ancient Arctic viruses still infect plants

The genome of a virus found in 700-year-old frozen caribous feces was shown to infect plants in the laboratory, a new study reveals. Researchers analyzed the viral genetic material contained in a core drilled through layers of accumulated caribou feces up to 4,000 years old in an ice patch in Canada’s Selwyn Mountain in the […]

‘Meaningful’ mistakes help learning at any age

A new study suggests that trial-and-error learning benefits memory in both young and old people, but only  when errors are meaningfully related to the right answer. The study tracked 65 younger (average age 22) and 65 older (average age 72) people who tried to memorize lists of words. Making wrong guesses when given a clue […]

Screening software could help find new drugs

A new method of screening molecules for their ability to bind to enzymes and other proteins could help discover potential new drugs. A newly built model looks at covalent bonding, a much stronger type of chemical attraction but one that is harder to model. Computer models that predict which molecules will interact with enzymes have existed […]

Arctic sea-ice decline has made severe Eurasian winters twice as likely

The decline in Arctic sea ice over the past few decades has doubled the chance of severe winters in Europe and Asia, a new study shows. Researchers performed computer simulations to show that sea-ice decline in the Arctic Barents and Kara seas since 2004 is linked to blocking situations of the jetstream which in turn […]

An experiment in the Saanich Inlet has provided new insight on how dissolved oxygen levels affect the marine scavengers that determine the fate of decomposing bodies (Photo credit: SFU University Communications, via Flickr)

Dissolved oxygen is key for underwater forensics

A new study indicates that dissolved oxygen has a big impact on how bodies decay underwater, a finding that could help in forensic investigations. Researchers deployed three pig carcasses outside the Victoria Experimental Network Under the Sea (VENUS), a cabled underwater laboratory with underwater cameras and sensors to record oxygen levels, temperature, pressure, salinity, density […]

Researchers Kurt Rademaker and Sonia Zarrillo in an excavation at Cuncaicha, in Peru. New evidence suggests that humans colonized the extreme environment over 12,000 years ago, a mere 2000 years after they first arrived in South America. (Photo credit: Kurt Rademaker)

Early mountain-dwellers offer insight on adaptation

Evidence of the highest and oldest human settlements in the Peruvian andes offers insight on how quickly humans can adapt to extreme environments. Researchers found tools, animal bones and plant remains that suggest a human habitation in three locations: the Pucuncho workshop site (4355 metres above sea level), the Cunchaicha workshop (4445 metres above sea […]

How to reduce damage from unregulated fisheries

Canadians are used to the idea that governments regulate fisheries, but around the world more than 100 million people – 90 per cent of the worlds’ fishers – operate in small-scale fisheries with no records or controls. In a Policy Forum article, the authors recommend methods to reduce the damage that illegal, unregulated and unreported […]

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