Education

Pigeons can identify words

A study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provides evidence that pigeons can learn to recognize words. That is after the birds were trained over a period of 8 months. According to the study authors “The pigeons’ performance is actually more comparable to that of literate humans than baboons’ performance.”…

We tend to think of carbon monoxide (CO) only in terms of being a poisonous gas. The reason for its toxicity is due to its ability to bind really tightly to our hemoglobin molecules, which prevents oxygen from being able to bind. In mammals, CO also decrease breathing rate. As you can imagine, it is a pretty terrible…

While The Pump Handle is on holiday break, we are republishing some of our favorite posts from the past year. This one is from August 2016: Two decades ago, President Bill Clinton signed the “Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act” (PRWORA) and heralded the end of “welfare as we know it.” The law lived up to that promise, but the outcomes for families who depend on it have been problematic.

New research presented at the British Ecological Society, Liverpool shows that reindeer are shrinking. These findings come from a survey conducted between 1994-2010 in Svalbard, a Norwegian island, which found the animals have lost about 12% of their body mass over this timeframe. The research team thinks the shrinking reindeer phenomenon might be caused by global warming…

Why monkeys don’t speak English…

… or any other human language for that matter. Even though both monkeys and humans have the anatomical tools for speech, only humans communicate in this manner. Researchers had assumed, incorrectly, that the anatomy of the vocal tract (lips, tongue, larynx) of monkeys was not capable of producing speech. A new study published in Science Advances shows instead that it…

“I’m coming back in… and it’s the saddest moment of my life.” -Ed White, at the end of his first spacewalk A great many of us had dreams of becoming an astronaut when we were younger, and many of us still have that dream today. But turning that dream into reality involves a lot of…

A changing climate has the potential to greatly impact ectotherms, which depend on the environment to regulate their own body temperatures. In a new study published in the American Journal of Physiology- Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, researchers were curious how exposure to varying temperatures would affect developing ectotherms. They answered this question using Drosophila melanogaster,…

I came across a neat article in Scientific American that described how reindeer and elk regrow their antlers every year. Could you imagine putting that much energy into growing new bone each year complete with a velvety cover containing nerves, skin, and blood vessels? Although full-grown antlers lose their blood supply and animals scrape the velvet…

I know this is not a comparative physiology topic, but this article caught my attention as I know I just ate a rather high fat meal last week for Thanksgiving and I plan to do the same throughout the holiday season. Insulin does more than just lowering blood sugar by increasing its uptake into tissues.…

Safety Pins

OK, lets start out with the assumption that it does not matter who you or anyone else supported in the last election or what your politics are. If it happens, hypothetically, to be the case that a vulnerable person feels threatened by some sort of bully, wouldn’t you like that vulnerable person to know that…