Alligator inhales helium in the name of science [Video]

This is what an alligator on helium sounds like

Scientists had the reptile inhale the air

as part of an experiment

to understand how they communicate

The outcome?

Something between a grunt and a belch


“Our question was whether alligators have vocal tract resonances like human speech. The key is that sound travels faster in helium. This makes the air passages seem shorter, making the resonances higher. So, if you breathe helium and the frequencies shift upward, that shows that they’re resonances. The hard part is getting an alligator to breathe helium.”

Source: Journal of Experimental Biology

Alligator ‘bellows’ are well known

but the function of their vocalizations remains unclear



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Book excerpt: ‘The Smallest Lights in the Universe’

Science, even science about the heavens, is done by people, astronomer Sara Seager reminds us throughout her new memoir, “The Smallest Lights in the Universe” (Crown, 2020).

For Seager, a renowned astronomer and planetary scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, doing science means searching for another Earth around a distant star. But being human means enduring a difficult childhood, exploring northern Canada, raising two sons, losing her husband to cancer, then falling in love anew. Her grace joining the personal and the scientific begins with the book itself, as you’ll read in the prologue below.

(Read an interview with Sara Seager about the book.)

Related: Best space and sci-fi books for 2020

The Smallest Lights in the Universe: A Memoir
Crown, 2020 | $25.20 on Amazon
In this luminous memoir, an MIT astrophysicist must reinvent herself in the wake of tragedy and

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How COVID-19 Impacted America’s Healthiest Communities | Healthiest Communities

Anticipating the coronavirus pandemic that smashed into New York City would crash over his suburban New Jersey community, John Bonanni, a county administrator, believed he’d prepared for the worst. But in early spring, as infections surged and hospital bedspace and ventilators ran short, Bonanni worried the worst might have been an underestimate.

Half a continent away, as Wyoming’s ski season wound down, Jodie Pond’s plan to fight the oncoming contagion ramped up. The health director for a county that includes Jackson Hole, an international tourist destination, Pond and her colleagues decided the area must go on lockdown, even if resort and business owners didn’t like it.

Meanwhile, in the Centennial State, Colorado communities were emerging as coronavirus hot zones, with Denver an epicenter. And as infections mounted, a patchwork of responses led to uneven results in fighting COVID-19.

For example, counties that perform better in U.S. News’ third-annual assessment of

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Boiling points: 8 ways in which The Leadership reveals STEMM’s gender problems | Dark Matter Distribution: The Leadership

The ‘likeability’ and not being ‘difficult’ trap

For women, there’s an inverse relationship between success and likeability. The fate of figures such as Hillary Clinton prove that the more ambition a woman exercises, the less palatable she may be perceived to be. In The Leadership, brilliant female scientists reveal the hostility they’ve encountered during field work, often undertaken in remote, high-pressure locations. Science communicator Fern Hames recalls working in an environment with 28 men and being told “we don’t have women scientists”. She also reveals that although a male colleague once left shotgun holes in her field hut, she didn’t want to be seen as ‘difficult’ by reporting it: “I didn’t want to make waves, it was my first proper job.” It’s an extreme example that illustrates how women who are successes in their fields can be vilified for simply turning up and doing their jobs.

“I grew up in a family where it was a given that girls can do anything, then suddenly it was ‘no, actually you can’t’. It was an enormous disappointment” - Fern Hames

  • “I grew up in

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‘Junk Science’ and Roundup Verdicts Examined in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons

‘Junk Science’ and Roundup Verdicts Examined in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons

PR Newswire

TUCSON, Ariz., Sept. 21, 2020

TUCSON, Ariz., Sept. 21, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — San Francisco juries have awarded up to $1 billion to persons claiming their cancer resulted from exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in the weedkiller Roundup™. In the fall issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Paul Driessen, J.D., examines the evidence and the legal process in this case study of litigation that is destroying companies and technology.

(PRNewsfoto/Association of American Physici)
(PRNewsfoto/Association of American Physici)

Law firms are still soliciting clients for lawsuits in which cumulative awards could reach trillions of dollars, Driessen writes.

Introduced in 1974, glyphosate is the world’s most widely used herbicide, he notes. Millions of homeowners, gardeners, and farmers use it regularly to kill weeds. Countless farmers employ it with “Roundup-Ready” corn, soybeans, cotton, and

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Here’s what science says about airborne transmission of the coronavirus

When the CDC updated its website on Friday to acknowledge that airborne transmission of the coronavirus beyond six feet may play a role in the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly indoors, the update was hailed by infectious disease experts interviewed by ABC News as an overdue step.

a sign on the side of a building: FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, file photo, people sit at tables at San Diego State University in San Diego.

© Gregory Bull/AP
FILE – In this Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, file photo, people sit at tables at San Diego State University in San Diego.

But on Monday morning, the agency took down that language, saying it was posted in “error.” Despite the CDC guidance whiplash, experts say it’s time to recognize that airborne transmission beyond six feet is possible — while continuing to emphasize that close contact within six feet is still the main way the virus is transmitted.

MORE: CDC abruptly removes new guidance on coronavirus airborne transmission

Scientists maintain that close, person-to-person contact is a main driver of the virus’ spread. This

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