65 Different Species of Animals Laugh, Says a New Study:
Primatologist and UCLA anthropology graduate student Sasha Winkler and UCLA professor of communication Greg Bryant have taken a closer look at the phenomenon of laughter across the animal kingdom. The pair combed through the existing scientific literature on animal play behavior, looking for mentions of vocal play signals or what might be thought of as laughter. The researchers looked for information on whether the animal vocalizations were recorded as noisy or tonal, loud or quiet, high-pitched or low-pitched, short or long, a single call or known rhythmic pattern-seeking features of play sounds. Since what constitutes “play” in much of the animal kingdom is rough-and-tumble and can also resemble fighting, play sounds can help emphasize non-aggression during such physical moments, the article suggests. They found such vocal play behavior documented in at least 65 species. That list includes a variety of primates, domestic cows and dogs, foxes, seals, and mongooses, as well as three bird species, including parakeets and Australian magpies. The researchers wrote that paying attention to other species in this way sheds light on the form and function of human laughter, and this helps us to better understand the evolution of human social behavior.
Precision machining produces tiny, light-guiding cubes for advancing info tech:
Credit: Kevin Roccapriore/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy
Drilling with the beam of an electron microscope, scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory precisely machined tiny electrically conductive cubes that can interact with light and organized them in patterned structures that confine and relay light's electromagnetic signal. This demonstration is a step toward potentially faster computer chips and more perceptive sensors. The seeming wizardry of these structures comes from the ability of their surfaces to support collective waves of electrons, called plasmons, with the same frequency as light waves but with much tighter confinement. The light-guiding structures are measured in nanometers, or billionths of a meter—100,000 times thinner than a human hair. The feat may prove critical for quantum and optical computing since they could be used for quantum computing, which may allow us to sense information and patterns at an imperceptibly small level in what physicists call the quantum realm. This will help scientists to test hypotheses such as multi-dimensional theory and pocket universe theories. The researchers who made this discovery and now moving to create a library of relationships between materials, structures, and plasmonic properties. This will eventually allow the mass production of the circuits they discovered and allow electric relays of the sensor systems to be read and encoded for humans to read and analyze.
Machine learning points to prime places in Antarctica to find meteorites:
Researchers discover a meteorite in the Nansen blue ice area near Belgium’s Princess Elisabeth Antarctic research station during a 2019–2020 expedition.
The hunt for meteorites may have just gotten some new leads. A powerful new machine learning algorithm has identified over 600 hot spots in Antarctica where scientists are likely to find a bounty of the fallen alien rocks, researchers report January 26 in Science Advances. Antarctica isn’t necessarily the No. 1 landing spot for meteorites, but the southern continent is still the best place to find them, says Veronica Tollenaar, a glaciologist at the Université libre de Bruxelles in Belgium. Not only are the dark specks at the surface starkly visible against the white background, but quirks of the ice sheet’s flow can also concentrate meteorites in “stranding zones.” Such stranding zones form when the slow creep of the ice sheet over the land encounters a mountain or hidden rise in the ground. That barrier shifts the flow upward, carrying any embedded space rocks toward the surface. Combining a machine learning algorithm with data on the ice’s velocity and thickness, surface temperatures, the shape of the bedrock, and known stranding zones, Tollenaar and colleagues created a map of 613 probable meteorite hot spots, including some near existing Antarctic research stations. To date, about 45,000 meteorites have been plucked from the ice. But that’s a fraction of the 300,000 bits of space rock estimated to lie somewhere on the continent’s surface.