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Not Exactly Rocket Science

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Not Exactly Pocket Science is a set of shorter write-ups on new stories with links to more detailed takes by the world’s best journalists and bloggers. It is meant to complement the usual fare of detailed pieces that are typical for this blog. Geneticist sequences own genome, finds genetic cause of his disease If you’ve…

Millions of years before humans invented sonar, bats and toothed whales had mastered the biological version of the same trick – echolocation. By timing the echoes of their calls, one group effortlessly flies through the darkest of skies and the other swims through the murkiest of waters. It’s amazing enough that two such different groups…

Many humans whinge about not getting oral sex often enough, but for most animals, it’s completely non-existent. In fact, we know of only animal apart from humans to regularly engage in fellatio – the short-nosed fruit bat (Cynopterus sphinx). The bat’s sexual antics have only just been recorded by Min Tan of China’s Guangdong Entomological…

Hungry great tits hunt for hibernating bats

When food is precious, animals can resort to strange behaviours in order to satisfy their hunger. Take the great tit. Its usual diet of insects and creepy-crawlies is harder to come by in winter. But in one Hungarian cave, great tits, ever the opportunists, have learned to exploit a rich and unusual source of food.…

When sportsmen use rackets or bats, their best bet is to hit a ball on the “sweet spot”, the point where various forces balance out to deliver powerful blows with only very small forces on the wielder’s wrist. Engineers have the right tools and models to work out where this spot lies on their instruments.…

Tiger moths jam the sonar of bats

Bats view the world in echoes, timing the reflections of their own ultrasonic calls to navigate and hunt. This biological sonar, or echolocation, has made them masters of the night sky; it’s so sensitive that some species take moths and other insects on the wing, while others pluck spiders from their webs without entangling themselves…