Early humans were likely able to see a red dwarf known as Scholz's star as it passed within 1 light-year of the sun about 70,000 years ago, according to findings published online in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters. The star would have looked like an indistinct reddish glow to the early modern humans and Neanderthals that populated Earth at the time.
A robotic fish developed by MIT computer scientists to help learn more about ocean creatures is described in Science Robotics. The robot, called SoFi, looks and moves much like a real fish, is economical to build, can almost swim by itself and is propelled by a hydraulic actuator that moves the tail fin like that of an actual fish, helping it move stealthily and blend in with ocean life.
A study published in PLOS ONE found that offspring of young male black-browed albatrosses have shorter telomeres and inferior physical attributes compared with offspring of middle-aged birds. The findings appear to conflict with a recent study of zebra finches, which found an association between older parental age and shortened telomeres as well as shorter life spans in offspring.
The brains of Alzheimer's disease patients produce tau proteins at a faster rate than do the brains of healthy people, a study published in Neuron suggests. "Our results showing that tau production is increased suggest that we might want to target tau production therapeutically," said Chihiro Sato, a co-author of the study.
Reproductive hormone levels in men given a contraceptive pill were lowered enough to block sperm production without major side effects, according to findings presented at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society. Dimethandrolone undecanoate, or DMAU, was tested on 83 men and will next move on to a clinical study that will examine sperm counts in study participants.
The University of Texas Marine Science Institute has received $16.5 million in funding assurance to help it rebound from damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. The funding assurance will allow construction contracts to proceed quickly.
Students enrolled in a welding program at a Montana high school are using their skills to make branding irons for livestock. The school also is expanding its focus on outdoor learning opportunities, including a proposal to start a fish hatchery.
Gateway Technical College in Wisconsin plans to offer two new associate degree programs in advanced manufacturing technology and supply chain management to help students train for jobs at the planned Foxconn electronics manufacturing complex. Foxconn said it considers the college to be "a strategic partner" that can help the company satisfy its employment needs.
Traditional ideas about how green cities should look may exclude lower-income people who can't afford rising rents. In this commentary, associate geography professors Trina Hamilton and Winifred Curran explain why they favor a model that views sustainability in terms of environment, economy and equity.