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My picks from ScienceDaily

Virtual Smart Home Controlled By Your Thoughts:

Light switches, TV remote controls and even house keys could become a thing of the past thanks to brain-computer interface (BCI) technology being developed in Europe that lets users perform everyday tasks with thoughts alone.

Spectacular Deep-water Coral Province Discovered Off Ireland’s West Coast:

NUI Galway researchers, during a recent deep-water expedition, have confirmed the existence of a major new coral reef province on the southern end of the Porcupine Bank off the west coast of Ireland. The province covers an area of some 200 sq. km and contains in the order of 40 coral reef covered carbonate mounds. These underwater hills rise as high as 100m above the seafloor.

New Technique Could Find Water On Earth-like Planets Orbiting Distant Suns:

Since the early 1990s astronomers have discovered more than 300 planets orbiting stars other than our sun, nearly all of them gas giants like Jupiter. Powerful space telescopes, such as the one that is central to NASA’s recently launched Kepler Mission, will make it easier to spot much smaller rocky extrasolar planets, or exoplanets, more similar to Earth.

Tool-making Birds: Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention For Clever Rooks:

Researchers at the Universities of Cambridge and Queen Mary, University of London have found that rooks, a member of the crow family, are capable of using and making tools, modifying them to make them work and using two tools in a sequence. The results are published on-line this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Link Between Sociality And Brain Increase In Carnivores Questioned By Evolutionary Biologists:

Packs of hunting dogs, troops of baboons, herds of antelope: when people observe social animals, they are often struck by how intelligent they seem, and recent studies suggest that sociality has played a key role in the evolution of larger brain size among several orders of mammals. But new research from two evolutionary biologists, John Finarelli of the University of Michigan and John Flynn of the American Museum of Natural History, calls this hypothesis into question–at least for the Carnivora. After a sweeping analysis of many living and fossil carnivore species that places relative increases in brain size in an evolutionary context, Finarelli and Flynn found that increased brain size is not routinely associated with sociality.

Rapid Climate Change Forces Scientists To Evaluate ‘Extreme’ Conservation Strategies:

Scientists are, for the first time, objectively evaluating ways to help species adapt to rapid climate change and other environmental threats via strategies that were considered too radical for serious consideration as recently as five or 10 years ago. Among these radical strategies currently being considered is so-called “managed relocation.” Managed relocation, which is also known as “assisted migration,” involves manually moving species into more accommodating habitats where they are not currently found.

Spanish Lynx Reproduction Cycle Determined By Analysis Of Their Feces:

Researcher Teresa Abáigar Ancín, of the Estación Experimental de Zonas Áridas (EEZA – CSIC) arid areas experiment station, has just finished a report which scientifically defines the reproduction cycle of the Spanish Lynx (Lynx pardinus). In order to this, experts have used a method of indirect analysis based on determining the sexual hormones concentration — estrogen, progesterone and testosterone — in the feces of these mammals.

Climate Change Threatens Endangered Honeycreeper Birds of Hawaii:

As climate change causes temperatures to increase in Hawaii’s mountains, deadly non-native bird diseases will likely also creep up the mountains, invading most of the last disease-free refuges for honeycreepers – a group of endangered and remarkable birds.

City Rats Are Loyal To Their Neighborhoods:

In the rat race of life, one thing is certain: there’s no place like home. Now, a study in Molecular Ecology finds the same is true for rats. Although inner city rodents appear to roam freely, most form distinct neighborhoods where they spend the majority of their lives.

Did The North Atlantic Fisheries Collapse Due To Fisheries-induced Evolution?:

The Atlantic cod has, for many centuries, sustained major fisheries on both sides of the Atlantic. However, the North American fisheries have now largely collapsed. A new article from scientists at the University of Iceland and Marine Research Institute in Reykjavik provides insights into possible mechanisms of the collapse of fisheries, due to fisheries-induced evolution.

Bacteria With A Built-in Thermometer: How Bacteria Measure Temperature And Thereby Control Infection:

Researchers in the Molecular Infection Biology group at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig and the Braunschweig Technical University can now demonstrate for the first time that bacteria of the Yersinia genus possess a unique protein thermometer – the protein RovA – which assists them in the infection process. RovA is a multi-functional sensor: it measures both the temperature of its host as well as the host’s metabolic activity and nutrients.