Rotating animation of the human brain showing the left frontal lobe in red within a translucent skull.
Human intelligence cannot be explained by the size of the brain’s frontal lobes, say researchers. Many theories have considered that the expansion of the frontal lobe of our human brain was especially crucial to the development of modern human behavior, thought and language. A new study suggest this is not the case.
The new study suggests that supposedly more ‘primitive’ areas, such as the cerebellum, were equally important in the expansion of the human brain. These areas may therefore play unexpectedly important roles in human cognition and its disorders, such as autism and dyslexia, say the researchers.
Late March 2013 snowfall in Arlington, VA via TimesDispatch
Here we go again! We’re in the middle of May 2013, and we are still watching surges of very cold weather affecting parts of the United States. Yet March 2013 (the most recent month whose analysis is available the National Climatic Data Center) was tied with 2006 as the 10th warmest March ever recorded – globally – since record keeping began. In other words, if the weather in your neck of the woods has been seeing below-average temperatures the past several months, it means it’s likely someone else, somewhere else on the globe, has been getting higher-than-average temps. To understand what’s happening with Earth’s climate, you have to look at the big picture. You might want to educate yourself about what’s creating the cold weather in some parts of the Northern Hemisphere right now and then ask yourself … could global warming be responsible for triggering the colder weather in some places?
Strong winds pushed ice sheets ashore at a lake in northern Minnesota this past weekend (especially Saturday morning, May 11). The ice crawled across people’s lawns and up to their doorsteps on the south side of Lake Mille Lacs (pronounced Mil-LACs) in the town of Onamia, Minnesota. Many described it as looking like a mini glacier. The ice reached the doors and windows of people’s homes at the Izatys Resort. Click inside for a video showing the effects fo the ice on homes near the lake.
Artist’s concept by Randii Oliver via Wikimedia Commons
One of the most interesting stories of last week came from research by linguists suggesting that some words have descended largely unchanged since the end of the last Ice Age. This research – from Mark Pagel, an evolutionary theorist at the University of Reading in the UK, and colleagues – describes a method for discovering ancient language superfamilies. The research uses cognates – that is, two words with a common origin – and statistical analysis of existing languages. It led the Washington Post to describe a sentence that might be translated into any one of hundreds of modern languages and still be at least partially understood by hunter-gatherers in Asia some 15,000 years ago. That is:
You, hear me! Give this fire to that old man. Pull the black worm off the bark and give it to the mother. And no spitting in the ashes!
Dyslexia is a language processing disorder can hinder reading, writing, spelling, and sometimes even speaking. Photo credit: MaPaSa/Shutterstock
Neuroscientists at Georgetown University Medical Center found significant differences in brain anatomy when comparing males and females with dyslexia to non-dyslexics. Because dyslexia is two to three times more prevalent in males, females have been overlooked, according to senior author Guinevere Eden. This is the first study that directly compares brain anatomy of females with and without dyslexia, according to its authors. Results of the study were announced in early May 2013 and published online in the journal Brain Structure and Function.
Since 1958, instruments on top of Mauna Loa in Hawaii have been measuring the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in Earth’s atmosphere. In all that time, the amount of CO2 has been increasing, and most climate scientists believe this increase is caused primarily by burning fossil fuels and that it is responsible for a warming of Earth observed since the start of the Industrial Revolution. On May 10, 2013, NOAA – which runs the Mauna Loa Observatory – announced an expected climate milestone. That is, the amount of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere now exceeds 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in 55 years of measurement. It’s possible there has not been this much CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere in more than 3 million years.
Popocatepetl, a volcano that looms on the Mexico City horizon, has been spitting small amounts of ash, steam, and volcanic gases for most of the 21st century. This satellite image shows the volcano’s summit in false-color (near-infrared, red, and green light). Bare rock is brown, vegetation is red, and clouds are white. A very faint volcanic plume is visible in the center of the summit crater. Image acquired February 5, 2013 via NASA’s Terra satellite. Caption also by NASA.
Eruptions occurred at several volcanoes during the first week of May, 2013. Volcanoes with heightened activity include Mount Cleveland in Alaska, the Mayon Volcano in the Philippines and Popocatépetl in Mexico.
This image shows the HR 8799 planets with starlight optically suppressed and data processing conducted to remove residual starlight. The star is at the center of the blackened circle in the image. The four spots indicated with the letters b through e are the planets. This is a composite image using 30 wavelengths of light and was obtained over a period of 1.25 hours on June 14 and 15, 2012. Image courtesy of Project 1640.View larger.
This image is amazing because it’s a direct look at four known exoplanets, all orbiting a large star called HR 8799, located some 129 light-years away. In other words, what you’re seeing here is a distant solar system. Even more amazing, astronomers have now been able to use spectroscopic analysis to probe for information about the atmospheres of these planets.
Were you expecting a dog, or perhaps a bat? Not so, it’s a greater wax moth. This moth is capable of sensing sound frequencies of up to 300kHz – the highest recorded frequency sensitivity of any animal in the natural world.