Warum Finken Zigarettenkippen in ihren Nestern verbauen

Nach den Heroin-Tauben ein weiteres Kapitel aus der wunderbarenlichen Welt der Tiere: Finken verbauen Zigarettenkippen und Fasern aus deren Filtern in ihren Nestern, weil die darin enthaltenen Chemikalien Parasiten abwehren. Ich leg mich dann mal kurz nebenan ins Kinderbett, eine rauchen…

Constantino Macías Garcia at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and his colleagues, have spent several years studying the curious cigarette habit in urban house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus). Initial evidence hinted that nicotine and other chemicals in the butts might help deter insect pests from moving into the nests – nicotine does have anti-parasite properties – but it wasn’t conclusive.

To firm up the conclusion, Macías Garcia and his team experimented with 32 house finch nests. One day after the eggs in the nest had hatched, the researchers removed the natural nest lining and replaced it with artificial felt, to remove any parasites that might have moved in during brooding. They then added live ticks to 10 of the nests, dead ticks to another 10 and left 12 free of ticks.

They found that the adult finches were significantly more likely to add cigarette butt fibres to the nest if it contained ticks. What’s more, the weight of cigarette butt material added to nests containing live ticks was, on average, 40 per cent greater than the weight of cigarette butt material added to nests containing dead ticks.

(via NC)

Exoplanet Reise-Poster für Trappist 1

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Ihr habt sicher mitbekommen: Astronomen haben sieben Exoplaneten entdeckt, die „nur“ 40 Lichtjahre (wieviele Katzen- bzw. Hundelichtjahre das wohl sind?) von der Erde entfernt um den Zwergstern Trappist-1 kreisen. Drei davon liegen in der habitablen Zone, einer Umlaufbahn, auf der erdähnliches Leben existieren könnte. In Tradition ihrer feinen Space-Travel-Poster (hier Teil 1 & Teil 2) hat die NASA gleich eins für Trappist 1 gepostet (hier in HighRes runterladen). Ich buch dann mal meinen Sommerurlaub…

Some 40 light-years from Earth, a planet called TRAPPIST-1e offers a heart-stopping view: brilliant objects in a red sky, looming like larger and smaller versions of our own moon. But these are no moons. They are other Earth-sized planets in a spectacular planetary system outside our own. These seven rocky worlds huddle around their small, dim, red star, like a family around a campfire. Any of them could harbor liquid water, but the planet shown here, fourth from the TRAPPIST-1 star, is in the habitable zone, the area around the star where liquid water is most likely to be detected. This system was revealed by the TRansiting Planets and PlanetIsmals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) and NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. The planets are also excellent targets for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. Take a planet-hopping excursion through the TRAPPIST-1 system.

Im Zeitraffer: Wie Bakterien eine Antibiotikaresistenz entwickeln

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Direktlink: The Evolution of Bacteria on a “Mega-Plate” Petri Dish

An der Harvard Medical School haben sie eine riesige Petrischale gebastelt, um in Hollywood-Manier die spektakulären Evolutions-Fähigkeiten von Bakterien zu demonstrieren – sprich, wie die kleinen Fucker in nullkommanix eine Antibiotikaresistenz entwickeln. Und deshalb liebe Kinder: Werft im Zweifelsfall eure Medis lieber zwei Tage zu lang als zu kurz ein.

(via Maik & René)

Globale Erwärmung von 1850-2016 in einem animierten Spiral-GIF

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Ed Hawkins, Klima-Wissenschaftler am National Centre for Atmospheric Science an der  University of Reading, hat die globalen Temperaturveränderungen der letzten 166 Jahre mit einem GIF visualisiert. It’s gettin‘ hot in herre…

The animated spiral presents global temperature change in a visually appealing and straightforward way. The pace of change is immediately obvious, especially over the past few decades. The relationship between current global temperatures and the internationally discussed target limits are also clear without much complex interpretation needed.

Auf Twitch einem künstlichen neuralen Netzwerk beim Halluzinieren zuschauen

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Studierende vom Reservoir Lab der Uni Ghent zeigen bei Twitch eine KI beim Halluzinieren. Wovon sie „träumen“ soll wird von den Zuschauern vorgeschlagen. Inspiriert ist das Ganze von Googles Inceptionism, der halluzinierenden Bilderkennung.

The AI in question is an artificial neural network. It looks at images and classifies the objects it sees them into 1000 different categories.

Instead of using it for classification, we are showing it an image and asking it to modify it, so that it becomes more confident in what it sees. This allows the network to hallucinate. The image is continuously zooming in, creating an interesting kaleidoscopic effect.

Note that every image generated by the network is unique: nothing is ever repeated, and all images are generated in response to the viewers‘ suggestions. Nothing in the images is copied from somewhere. They are fully generated on the fly by whatever the neural network thinks makes this object this specific object