science stuff from the wise mammoth

Where science and occasional humor meet.

sheerdarwinism:

The WWF and the Zoological Society of London have released a new analysis that shows the earth has lost 50% of its vertebrate wildlife in the last 40 years.

This steep decline of vertebrates was calculated by analysing 10,000 populations of more than 3,000 species. The data was then used to create a ‘Living Planet Index’ (LPI), to reflect the state of all 45,000 known species of vertebrates. And the result is this - in the last 40 years, we have managed to kill 50% of all earth’s known vertebrates. And remember, this analysis didn’t include invertebrates, so the total overall loss could be much, much higher.

The fastest declines are in freshwater ecosystems, where numbers have dropped 75% since 1970. Freshwater rivers often represent the end of a system, where effluent often ends up.

The graph above shows the causes of vertebrate decline based on analysis of 3,430 species’ populations. As it stands, we are cutting down trees for soy, timber, and beef faster than they can grow. We are hunting animals faster than they can reproduce. We are pumping water out of rivers faster than rainfall can replenish them. And we are pumping out carbon faster than can be absorbed (and even then, the absorption of carbon dioxide by oceans is another issue).

The photos above show just some of the animals that have been experienced serious declines in the last 40 years. As reported by The Guardian:

David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF-UK said: “The scale of the destruction highlighted in this report should be a wake-up call for us all. But 2015 – when the countries of the world are due to come together to agree on a new global climate agreement, as well as a set of sustainable development goals – presents us with a unique opportunity to reverse the trends.

“We all – politicians, businesses and people – have an interest, and a responsibility, to act to ensure we protect what we all value: a healthy future for both people and nature.”

ibmblr:

Fantastical NonfictionMutant Clouds!It’s the… Cloud! The name sounds more suited for a comic book character than the moniker for a $100 billion dollar computer services industry. But soon even the most mild-mannered clouds will be getting some uncanny powers. Researchers at IBM, AT&T and ACS have developed a prototype system creating elastic bandwidth between clouds, reducing cloud-to-cloud set-up times from days to seconds. So all kinds of clouds, with all kinds of data sets, can join forces in an instant to become exponentially more powerful. For more about these mighty shapeshifters, read on →

ibmblr:

Fantastical Nonfiction
Mutant Clouds!

It’s the… Cloud! The name sounds more suited for a comic book character than the moniker for a $100 billion dollar computer services industry. But soon even the most mild-mannered clouds will be getting some uncanny powers. Researchers at IBM, AT&T and ACS have developed a prototype system creating elastic bandwidth between clouds, reducing cloud-to-cloud set-up times from days to seconds. So all kinds of clouds, with all kinds of data sets, can join forces in an instant to become exponentially more powerful. For more about these mighty shapeshifters, read on →

futurescope:

Zoobotics is developing modular animal-like robots made from paper, wood or plastics that can be assembled with a few tools

A startup from Hamburg (Germany) is experimenting with tetra- and hexapods, made from cardboard and paper. All technical functions are controlled by an Arduino Uno. Estimated base price incl all parts and reusable components atm around 300 €. They’re aiming for a crowdfunding release at the end of 2014. Count me in.

Description of Zuri 01:

ZURI is a programmable robot made from paper and grey cardboard. This motion machine, conceived of as a kit, can be assembled with a few tools (cutter, ruler, cutting mat, bone folder, glue and screwdriver). In addition to a distance sensor, the Paper Robot has servo motors, servo controllers and a Bluetooth module for wireless control via PC or smartphone.

ZURI is a modular robotic system. It is based on two leg variants (2DOF / 3DOF) and two different body modules (1M / 2M). The combination of leg and body modules allows for a lot of robot variations. This results in different degrees of difficulty regarding programming and coordination of the running gaits.

The ZURI-PAPERBOT-SYSTEM combines disciplines such as modeling, the use of electronics and programming. It is perfect for use in the classroom.

[Zoobotics] [long feature in german on golem] [all pictures by zoobotics]

futurescope:

The future is flexible

Take a look around the headquarters of MC10, a company developing electronics that can bend and flex, leading to applications such as sensors that can conform to clothing and skin.

[MC10]

neurosciencestuff:

Infant Cooing, Babbling Linked to Hearing Ability
Infants’ vocalizations throughout the first year follow a set of predictable steps from crying and cooing to forming syllables and first words. However, previous research had not addressed how the amount of vocalizations may differ between hearing and deaf infants. Now, University of Missouri research shows that infant vocalizations are primarily motivated by infants’ ability to hear their own babbling. Additionally, infants with profound hearing loss who received cochlear implants to help correct their hearing soon reached the vocalization levels of their hearing peers, putting them on track for language development.
“Hearing is a critical aspect of infants’ motivation to make early sounds,” said Mary Fagan, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Science and Disorders in the MU School of Health Professions. “This study shows babies are interested in speech-like sounds and that they increase their babbling when they can hear.”
Fagan studied the vocalizations of 27 hearing infants and 16 infants with profound hearing loss who were candidates for cochlear implants, which are small electronic devices embedded into the bone behind the ear that replace some functions of the damaged inner ear. She found that infants with profound hearing loss vocalized significantly less than hearing infants. However, when the infants with profound hearing loss received cochlear implants, the infants’ vocalizations increased to the same levels as their hearing peers within four months of receiving the implants.
“After the infants received their cochlear implants, the significant difference in overall vocalization quantity was no longer evident,” Fagan said. “These findings support the importance of early hearing screenings and early cochlear implantation.”
Fagan found that non-speech-like sounds such as crying, laughing and raspberry sounds, were not affected by infants’ hearing ability. She says this finding highlights babies are more interested in speech-like sounds since they increase their production of those sounds such as babbling when they can hear.
“Babies learn so much through sound in the first year of their lives,” Fagan said. “We know learning from others is important to infants’ development, but hearing allows infants to explore their own vocalizations and learn through their own capacity to produce sounds.”
In future research, Fagan hopes to study whether infants explore the sounds of objects such as musical toys to the same degree they explore vocalization.
Fagan’s research, “Frequency of vocalization before and after cochlear implantation: Dynamic effect of auditory feedback on infant behavior,” was published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.

neurosciencestuff:

Infant Cooing, Babbling Linked to Hearing Ability

Infants’ vocalizations throughout the first year follow a set of predictable steps from crying and cooing to forming syllables and first words. However, previous research had not addressed how the amount of vocalizations may differ between hearing and deaf infants. Now, University of Missouri research shows that infant vocalizations are primarily motivated by infants’ ability to hear their own babbling. Additionally, infants with profound hearing loss who received cochlear implants to help correct their hearing soon reached the vocalization levels of their hearing peers, putting them on track for language development.

“Hearing is a critical aspect of infants’ motivation to make early sounds,” said Mary Fagan, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Science and Disorders in the MU School of Health Professions. “This study shows babies are interested in speech-like sounds and that they increase their babbling when they can hear.”

Fagan studied the vocalizations of 27 hearing infants and 16 infants with profound hearing loss who were candidates for cochlear implants, which are small electronic devices embedded into the bone behind the ear that replace some functions of the damaged inner ear. She found that infants with profound hearing loss vocalized significantly less than hearing infants. However, when the infants with profound hearing loss received cochlear implants, the infants’ vocalizations increased to the same levels as their hearing peers within four months of receiving the implants.

“After the infants received their cochlear implants, the significant difference in overall vocalization quantity was no longer evident,” Fagan said. “These findings support the importance of early hearing screenings and early cochlear implantation.”

Fagan found that non-speech-like sounds such as crying, laughing and raspberry sounds, were not affected by infants’ hearing ability. She says this finding highlights babies are more interested in speech-like sounds since they increase their production of those sounds such as babbling when they can hear.

“Babies learn so much through sound in the first year of their lives,” Fagan said. “We know learning from others is important to infants’ development, but hearing allows infants to explore their own vocalizations and learn through their own capacity to produce sounds.”

In future research, Fagan hopes to study whether infants explore the sounds of objects such as musical toys to the same degree they explore vocalization.

Fagan’s research, “Frequency of vocalization before and after cochlear implantation: Dynamic effect of auditory feedback on infant behavior,” was published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.