December 11, 2012

The Face of Homo Floresiensis
Researchers have revealed what the face of a controversial ancient human nicknamed “the Hobbit” might have looked like. “She’s not what you’d call pretty, but she is definitely distinctive,” said anthropologist Susan Hayes, a senior research fellow at the University of Wollongong. (Megan Gannon, LiveScience)

Fostering Prosocial Behavior in Children
How do children develop prosocial behavior, and is there in fact any way to encourage it? If you do, will you eventually get altruistic adults, the sort who buy shoes for a homeless man on a freezing night, or rush to lift a commuter pushed onto the subway tracks as the train nears? (Dr. Perri Klass, 18 and Under, Well, The New York Times)

Oxytocin and Father-Baby Bonding
“We found that after oxytocin administration, fathers’ salivary oxytocin rose dramatically, more than 10 fold, but moreover, similar increases were found in the infants’ oxytocin,” study researcher Ruth Feldman, of Bar-Ilan University in Israel, said in a statement. “In the oxytocin conditions, key parenting behavior, including father touch and social reciprocity, increased, but infant social behavior, including social gaze and exploratory behavior, increased as well.” (Megan Gannon, LiveScience)

Are There Other Planets Better at Supporting Life?
A team of astronomers and geologists at The Ohio State University, using data gathered by the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher spectrometer at the European Southern Observatory in Chile, made a study of eight stars that are “solar twins” to our sun—similar in factors like size, age, and composition—and measured the amounts of radioactive elements those stars contain. Combining those analyses with theories about the conditions that made Earth hospitable to life, the team has made an exciting, if preliminary, finding: that the terrestrial planets orbiting those stars could be hotter and more dynamic than Earth. (Megan Garber, The Atlantic)

Stephen Hawking and CERN Win Physics Prizes
A Russian billionaire’s foundation is awarding two special prizes of 3 million dollars each to British cosmologist Stephen Hawking for his work on black holes and to seven scientists at the world’s biggest atom-smasher for their roles in the discovery of a new subatomic particle believed to be the long-sought Higgs boson. Yuri Milner’s Fundamental Physics Prize Foundation announced the awards in a statement. (Associated Press)

Category: Field Notes


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