299 articles from MONDAY 8.2.2021

Synchronization of brain hemispheres changes what we hear

Most of the time, our brain receives different input from each of our ears, but we nevertheless perceive speech as unified sounds. This process takes place through synchronization of the areas of the brain involved with the help of gamma waves, neurolinguists have now discovered. Their findings may lead to new treatment approaches for tinnitus.

1918 pandemic second wave had fatal consequences

In a pandemic, delayed reactions and a decentralized approach by the authorities at the start of a follow-up wave can lead to longer-lasting, more severe and more fatal consequences, a new study has found. Researchers compared the influenza pandemic of 1918 and 1919 in the Canton of Bern with the coronavirus pandemic of 2020.

Robots sense human touch using camera and shadows

Researchers have created a low-cost method for soft, deformable robots to detect a range of physical interactions, from pats to punches to hugs, without relying on touch at all. Instead, a USB camera located inside the robot captures the shadow movements of hand gestures on the robot's skin and classifies them with machine-learning software.

Variable weather makes weeds harder to whack

From flooded spring fields to summer hailstorms and drought, farmers are well aware the weather is changing. It often means spring planting can't happen on time or has to happen twice to make up for catastrophic losses of young seedlings. It also means common pre-emergence herbicides are less effective.

How rocks rusted on Earth and turned red

How did rocks rust on Earth and turn red? A new study has shed new light on the important phenomenon and will help address questions about the Late Triassic climate more than 200 million years ago, when greenhouse gas levels were high enough to be a model for what our planet may be like in the future.

Cleaning Up the Mississippi River

A researcher has reconstructed a 100-year record chronicling water quality trends in the lower Mississippi River by compiling water quality data collected from 1901 to 2019. The Mississippi River is the largest river in North America with about 30 million people living within its watershed. He tracked pH levels and concentrations of bacteria, oxygen, lead and sulphate in this new study.

Deepfake detectors can be defeated, computer scientists show for the first time

Systems designed to detect deepfakes -- videos that manipulate real-life footage via artificial intelligence -- can be deceived, computer scientists have shown. Researchers showed detectors can be defeated by inserting inputs called adversarial examples into every video frame. The adversarial examples are slightly manipulated inputs which cause artificial intelligence systems such as machine...

Happiness really does come for free

Economic growth is often prescribed as a way of increasing the well-being of people in low-income countries. A new study suggests that there may be good reason to question this assumption. The researchers found that the majority of people in societies where money plays a minimal role reported a level of happiness comparable to that found in Scandinavian countries which typically rate highest in...

Scientists discover how a group of caterpillars became poisonous

The Atala butterfly (Eumaeus atala) and its five closest relatives in the genus Eumaeus like to display their toxicity. This sextet's toxicity comes from what they eat as caterpillars: plants called cycads that have been around since before dinosaurs roamed the Earth and contain a potent liver toxin called cycasin.

Cleaning up the Mississippi River

Louisiana State University College of the Coast & Environment Boyd Professor R. Eugene Turner reconstructed a 100-year record chronicling water quality trends in the lower Mississippi River by compiling water quality data collected from 1901 to 2019 by federal and state agencies as well as the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board. The Mississippi River is the largest river in North America with...

Where should future astronauts land on Mars? Follow the water

So you want to build a Mars base. Where to start? Like any human settlement, it would be best located near accessible water. Not only will water be crucial for life-support supplies, it will be used for everything from agriculture to producing the rocket propellant astronauts will need to return to Earth.

Camera captures the Southern Pinwheel galaxy in glorious detail

Astronomy enthusiasts might wonder why a camera called the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) would be used to image a single spiral galaxy. DECam has in fact already finished its main job, as the instrument was used to complete the Dark Energy Survey, which ran from 2013 to 2019. Like many people, rather than enjoying a quiet retirement, DECam is remaining occupied. Members of the astronomical community...

New technique used to discover how galaxies grow

For decades, space and ground telescopes have provided us with spectacular images of galaxies. These building blocks of the universe usually contain several million to over a trillion stars and can range in size from a few thousand to several hundred thousand light-years across. What we typically see in an image of a galaxy are the stars, gas and dust that constitute these sprawling systems.

Pollen season grows 20 days in 30 years as climate crisis hits hay fever sufferers

Pollen released by plants is also more intense than in 1990 in bad news for those with allergies, research in US and Canada findsThe climate crisis is multiplying the miseries faced by people with allergies, with new research finding that the pollen season in North America is now an average 20 days longer than it was three decades ago. Related: How urban planners' preference for male trees has...

Yes, allergy seasons are getting worse; blame climate change

If you live with seasonal allergies and feel like the pollen seasons feel longer and longer every year, you may be right. New research shows that pollen seasons start 20 days earlier, are 10 days longer, and feature 21% more pollen than in 1990—meaning more days of itchy, sneezy, drippy misery.

Quality education essential to closing the growing global skills gap

With rapid educational expansion in many developing countries, much progress has been made in terms of access to education. According to a new IIASA-led study, being in school is however not the same as learning and this expansion in quantity may come at the expense of quality, with the possible negative implications of the current COVID-19 pandemic on schooling possibly exacerbating the...

Fast-growing parts of Africa see a surprise: less air pollution from seasonal fires

Often, when populations and economies boom, so does air pollution—a product of increased fossil-fuel consumption by vehicles, industry and households. This has been true across much of Africa, where air pollution recently surpassed AIDS as the leading cause of premature death. But researchers have discovered at least a temporary bright spot: dangerous nitrogen oxides, byproducts of combustion,...

To figure out how dinosaurs walked, start with how they didn't

Paleontologists have made great strides in understanding how extinct animals like dinosaurs walked, ran, swam and flew when they were alive—but much about the mechanics of how different species moved remains uncertain. A new study led by researchers at Brown University offers a new perspective on this long-standing conundrum.