Did you know


Cats 'control mice' with chemicals in their urine

Photo Source: bbc.co.uk

Cat v mouse: it is probably the most famous predator-prey pairing, enshrined in idioms and a well-known cartoon.
And cats, it turns out, even have chemical warfare in their anti-mouse arsenal - contained in their urine.
Researchers found that when very young mice were exposed to a chemical in cat urine, they were less likely to avoid the scent of cats later in life.
The findings were presented at the Society for Experimental Biology's annual meeting in Prague.
The researchers, from the AN Severtov Institute of Ecology and Evolution in Moscow, had previously found that the compound - aptly named felinine - causes pregnant mice to abort.
Dr Vera Voznessenskaya explained that mice have a physiological response to this cat-specific compound.


Why do people laugh? You asked Google – and here’s the answer

Photo Source: theguardian.com

If you ask people why they laugh, they tend to talk about humour, comedy and jokes. Humour, comedy and jokes do seem to be very important to humans: as far as we can see, as long as humans have had language, we have had humour. Examples have been found from ancient Egypt, dated to 2600BC, and a comprehensive Roman joke book, The Laughter Lover, also still exists. Humour may be a constant for humans, but the precise nature of what we think is funny can change over time, and time has not been kind to the jokes from ancient history.


The Earth stands on the brink of its sixth mass extinction and the fault is ours

Photo Source: theguardian.com

ife on Earth is in trouble. That much we know. But how bad have things become – and how fast are events moving? How soon, indeed, before the Earth’s biological treasures are trashed, in what will be the sixth great mass extinction event? This is what Gerardo Caballos of the National Autonomous University of Mexico and his colleagues have assessed, in a paper that came out on Friday.


The strange fate of a person falling into a black hole

Photo Source: bbc.co.uk

It could happen to anyone. Maybe you're out trying to find a new habitable planet for the human race, or maybe you're just on a long walk and you slip. Whatever the circumstances, at some point we all find ourselves confronted with the age-old question: what happens when you fall into a black hole?
You might expect to get crushed, or maybe torn to pieces. But the reality is stranger than that.
The instant you entered the black hole, reality would split in two. In one, you would be instantly incinerated, and in the other you would plunge on into the black hole utterly unharmed.
A black hole is a place where the laws of physics as we know them break down. Einstein taught us that gravity warps space itself, causing it to curve. So given a dense enough object, space-time can become so warped that it twists in on itself, burrowing a hole through the very fabric of reality.


Whales can be told apart by their voices - study

Photo Source: bbc.co.uk

US researchers say that they can distinguish individual whales based on the sound of the animals' voices.
Using a large set of recordings of North Atlantic right whales, they found that detailed analysis of one particular type of call allowed them to single out individual whales.
The biologists want to explore whether acoustic identification could be useful for monitoring whales in the wild.
Practically, however, this idea remains very difficult to put into practice.
The findings were presented at the spring conference of the Acoustical Society of America, in Pittsburgh.
Current estimates suggest there are only around 450 North Atlantic right whales left in the wild. They feed on plankton off the east coast of the US and Canada, which is where the recordings were made that were used in the new study.


Mysterious 'Cold Spot' May Be The Largest Structure In The Universe

Photo Source: huffingtonpost.com

Astronomers are crowing about the discovery of what they say just might be "the largest individual structure ever identified by humanity."
It's not a galaxy or a cluster of galaxies--nor even a galaxy supercluster. It's not even a structure in the usual sense. Rather, it's a vast cosmic bubble of sorts--a roughly spherical "supervoid" some 1.8 billion light-years across.
What makes the bubble different from the surrounding regions of the universe? There's no barrier--it's just that the density of galaxies is significantly lower inside the supervoid than outside.


The Earth Has An Eerie Hum, And Now We Know What's Causing It

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Scientists have long known that Earth produces an eerie low-frequency hum that's inaudible to humans but detectable with seismic instruments. But as for what's causing this "microseismic" activity, scientists have never been sure.
Until now.
A new study published online Feb. 10, 2015 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters indicates that the hum is largely due to ocean waves that cause our planet to vibrate subtly -- or "ring," as the researchers put it.


Will we ever have a theory of everything?

Photo Source: bbc.co.uk

The recent film The Theory of Everything tells the story of Stephen Hawking, who managed to become a world-famous physicist despite being confined to a wheelchair by a degenerative disease. It's mostly about his relationship with his ex-wife Jane, but it does find a bit of time to explain what Hawking has spent his career doing.
He certainly didn't lack ambition. Hawking has been one of many physicists trying to come up with a "theory of everything", a single theory that will explain everything about our universe. He was following in the footsteps of Albert Einstein, who tried and failed to devise such a theory.
Finding a theory of everything would be a staggering achievement, finally making sense of all the weird and wonderful things in our universe. For decades, confident physicists have said that one is just around the corner. So are we really on the verge of understanding everything?


Jupiter May Be Behind The Mysterious 'Gaping Hole' In Our Solar System

Photo Source: huffingtonpost.com

When astronomers began studying other solar systems in the Milky Way galaxy back in the 1990s, they noticed something peculiar: most of these systems have big planets that circle their host stars in tight orbits, a finding that makes our solar system a bit of a cosmic oddball.
Now researchers at Caltech and the University of California, Santa Cruz, say they've figured out why our solar system is devoid of planets within Mercury's orbit -- and pose that Jupiter may be to blame for this strange "gaping hole."

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