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My picks from ScienceDaily

Science Professors Know Science, But Who Is Teaching Them How To Teach?:

U.S. science and engineering students emerge from graduate school exquisitely trained to carry out research. Yet when it comes to the other major activity they’ll engage in as professors – teaching – they’re usually left to their own devices. That’s now beginning to change, thanks to work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In the Nov. 28 issue of Science, a team led by bacteriology professor Jo Handelsman describes its program of “scientific teaching,” in which graduate students and postdoctoral researchers are taught to foster scientific inquiry by their students, accommodate diverse learning styles, and rigorously evaluate their teaching efforts.

Expressing Emotions In E-mail So As Not To Be Misinterpreted:

In a new article in the current issue of American Journal of Sociology authors Daniel A. Menchik and Xiaoli Tian (both of the University of Chicago) study how we use emoticons, subject lines, and signatures to define how we want to be interpreted in email. The authors find that “a shift to email interaction requires a new set of interactional skills to be developed.” Unlike face-to-face conversations, email interactions leave out tone of voice, body-language and context, which can lead to misunderstandings. While these authors agree that there are difficulties, they believe that no way of communicating is actually superior to another.

Common Cold Virus Came From Birds About 200 Years Ago, Study Suggests:

A virus that causes cold-like symptoms in humans originated in birds and may have crossed the species barrier around 200 years ago, according to a new article published in the Journal of General Virology. Scientists hope their findings will help us understand how potentially deadly viruses emerge in humans.

Panamanian Termite Goes Ballistic: Fastest Mandible Strike In The World:

A single hit on the head by the termite Termes panamensis (Snyder), which possesses the fastest mandible strike ever recorded, is sufficient to kill a would-be nest invader, report Marc Seid and Jeremy Niven, post-doctoral fellows at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Rudolf Scheffrahn from the University of Florida.

Virtual Ears And The Cocktail Party Effect:

Oxford University research has helped understanding of the so-called ‘cocktail party effect’ – how our brains develop the ability to pinpoint and focus on particular sounds among a background of noise.

Climate Change Opens New Avenue For Spread Of Invasive Plants:

Plants that range northward because of climate change may be better at defending themselves against local enemies than native plants. So concludes a team of scientists including a University of Florida geneticist. The team’s findings, reported online in the journal Nature, suggest that certain plants could become invasive if they spread to places that were previously too cold for them.

Sustainable Garden Roofs Developed As New Construction Material:

A Spanish research study has tested different combinations of supports and indigenous plants to determine which are the best for reducing energy consumption inside buildings. This type of roof is a “rurban”, sustainable architectural solution that will lead to a reduction in environmental and acoustic contamination levels in cities, and be visually pleasing.

Rabies Barrier To Save World’s Rarest Wolf:

A team of Oxford University and Ethiopian conservationists are battling to save the world’s rarest wolf from a rabies outbreak by creating a ‘barrier’ of vaccinated wolf packs.

Farming And Chemical Warfare: A Day In The Life Of An Ant:

One of the most important developments in human civilisation was the practice of sustainable agriculture. But we were not the first – ants have been doing it for over 50 million years. Just as farming helped humans become a dominant species, it has also helped leaf-cutter ants become dominant herbivores, and one of the most successful social insects in nature.

Sex Life Of Killer Fungus Finally Revealed:

Biologists at The University of Nottingham and University College Dublin have announced a major breakthrough in our understanding of the sex life of a microscopic fungus which is a major cause of death in immune deficient patients and also a cause of severe asthma.