Science

Let’s ask: Are city birds smarter than country birds?

Let’s ask: Are city birds smarter than country birds?

A study has shown that not only are birds living in major cities smarter than their rural counterparts, they're more immune to diseases. While our dominance of land here on Earth has created a far smaller natural environment for birds over the past several thousand years, Jean-Nicolas Audet, a Ph.D student in the Department of Biology, says that urban birds have done more than just adapt to us, they've become more advanced amongst humans than out in the country on their own.

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Skydio drone can actually follow you while avoiding trees

Skydio drone can actually follow you while avoiding trees

Drones with the ability to follow the user and shoot video or still images are out there right now. The catch is that they only really work in environments where there are no obstacles that the drone needs to avoid. Put the same tracking drone into a forest environment with random tree branches and trunks and the drone is unable to avoid those obstacles.

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Comet to pass Earth in close flyby tomorrow morning

Comet to pass Earth in close flyby tomorrow morning

If you missed today's comet flyby, don't fret -- there will be a second one tomorrow morning, and it'll be even closer than today's (though there is no danger, NASA is sure to warn). This flyby will involve comet P/2016 BA14, and it’ll pass by our planet at 2.2 million or so miles. While that’s a great distance away, relatively speaking, it’ll be the third closest comet flyby since 1983. Tomorrow’s event follows this morning’s flyby of comet 252P/LINEAR.

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New Horizons yields more questions about Pluto than answers

New Horizons yields more questions about Pluto than answers

Last year, humanity achieved an important milestone. The New Horizons probe flew by Pluto in history's closest approach to the dwarf planet in the outermost zone of our solar system. The initial batch of photos were already revealing but that is almost literally just the tip of the iceberg. Scientists involved in the New Horizons studies have just published a paper that reveals even more findings gathered since the probe's first data dump, painting a picture of a planet that is more mysterious than we could have imagined.

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King Tut’s tomb: scans find hidden rooms with metal, organic objects

King Tut’s tomb: scans find hidden rooms with metal, organic objects

Back in October, evidence was found suggesting King Tut’s tomb could have a secret room or two, and that the secret room may prove to be the long-sought tomb of Queen Nefertiti. Some experts dismissed the idea at the time, pointing out apparent flaws with the notion. Nevertheless, radar scans were performed and Egyptian antiquities minister Mamdouh Eldamaty has good news to report: there are hidden chambers in the tomb, and there are unidentified objects hidden within them. The objects are made of both organic materials and metals.

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DARPA Improv project seeks to weaponize your appliances

DARPA Improv project seeks to weaponize your appliances

DARPA’s back with yet another project, and this one aims to turn everyday, benign appliances and other electronics into weapons and other “unanticipated security threats.” No, the agency isn’t hoping to equip soldiers with modified home appliances — rather, it wants the hive mind to come up with novel and unexplored methods for turning easily accessible devices into things that could threatened national security, helping to bolster preventative technologies.

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Ceres’ mystery spots are dimming, brightening daily

Ceres’ mystery spots are dimming, brightening daily

Ceres' bright spots entertained astronomers and enthusiasts for most of 2015, but ultimately ended as we'd expected all along -- all signs point toward them being shiny salt patches reflecting the sun's light. Enter 2016 and a new plot twist no one anticipated -- the dwarf planet's bright spots are randomly changing in intensity, growing brighter and dimmer throughout the day in a way that doesn't fully line up with the planet's rotation.

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Sensor laden pigeons test for air pollution in London

Sensor laden pigeons test for air pollution in London

A flock of ten pigeons has a big job in London. The pigeons will be flying around the city wearing tiny backpacks that are fitted with sensors designed to monitor air quality around the city. The pigeons will live free for three days before returning with their little backpacks. The project is called Pigeon Air Patrol and was one of the winners of a contest called #PoweredByTweets that Twitter held last year.

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Australia has mysterious ‘fairy circles’ all over the place, too

Australia has mysterious ‘fairy circles’ all over the place, too

We’ve all heard of crop circles, but ‘fairy circles’ are lesser known and, usually, less interesting to look at. These circular patches have a shape roughly -- and consistently -- like that of a six-sided honeycomb and feature a hard dirt shell resulting in a plant-free bare region within an otherwise grassy landscape. Fairy circles are commonly found in Namibia but not elsewhere — until recently, at least, when researchers stumbled across a bunch of them in the empty Australian outback.

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MIT device makes power by burning fuel-coated carbon nanotubes

MIT device makes power by burning fuel-coated carbon nanotubes

Scientists and researchers at MIT have come up with a new portable method of making power that uses heat and doesn't require metals or toxic materials. The new method of generating power is based on a discovery made by MIT professor Michael Strano and co-workers in 2010. That team created a wire using small carbon nanotubes that is able to create an electrical current when the tube is progressively heated from one end to the other.

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T-Rex missing link: a horse-sized predator with super hearing

T-Rex missing link: a horse-sized predator with super hearing

The “missing link” between the smallest T-Rex ancestors and the larger Tyrannosaurs was discovered in the Kyzylkum Desert in Uzbekistan more than a decade ago. Researchers recently studied the fossils and have published the results of their study, saying the creature -- which has been dubbed Timurlengia euotica -- was about the size of a modern horse and holds signs about how such a small species evolved into the massive Tyrannosaurus Rex.

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ExoMars 2016 is Go as rocket blasts off for Martian mission

ExoMars 2016 is Go as rocket blasts off for Martian mission

The European Space Agency's mission to Mars has successfully begun, though it'll be seven months before the Proton rocket reaches the red planet. ExoMars 2016 aims to sift through the Martian atmosphere in search of methane and other trace gases which, the scientists suggest, might indicate that there are active biological or geological processes underway on the distant planet.

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