Tech

Genes play a role in the likelihood of divorce

THAT the children of divorced parents are more likely, when they grow up, to get divorced themselves is well known. What is not known is how much this tendency is the result of nurture (with children manifesting, in later life, behaviours learned from their parents), and how much it is caused by nature (with children inheriting from divorced parents the ...

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Music may be the food of love, but oddly, is not its language

A lullaby in any language “WHERE words fail, music speaks.” Though these words, from the pen of Hans Christian Andersen, are an appealing notion, the idea that there might be universals in music which transcend cultural boundaries has generally been met with scepticism by scholars working in the field. That scepticism may, however, be unwarranted, for research published in Current ...

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Some of Nature’s strangest mammals are also some of the most threatened

PANGOLINS are a smuggler’s dream. For defence, and when asleep, they roll themselves up into spheres, scales on the outside, to thwart any predator. That makes them easy to handle and pack. And handled and packed they have been, in enormous numbers. The International Union for Conservation of Nature, a worldwide wildlife-preservation organisation, reckons that more than 1m pangolins were ...

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Silencing a sonic boom would help a Concorde replacement

Tomorrow, yesterday WHEN a British Airways Concorde travelling from New York touched down at Heathrow airport, in London, on October 24th 2003, supersonic passenger travel came to an end. Concorde was a technological marvel, but never a commercial success. Only 14 of them entered service. Yet the idea of building a successor has never quite gone away. Aircraft-makers review the ...

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Livers for transplant can now be kept alive at body temperature

Now for a bit of metra-analysis WHEN Constantin Coussios, a biomedical engineer at Oxford University, arrived one day in 2013 at the transplant centre of King’s College Hospital, in London, with a liver for their use, he triggered a brief flurry of panic. Two other livers had arrived at the same time. The hospital had only one operating theatre in ...

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Sequencing the world

IN NOVEMBER 2015, 23 of biology’s bigwigs met up at the Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, DC, to plot a grandiose scheme. It had been 12 years since the publication of the complete genetic sequence of Homo sapiens. Other organisms’ genomes had been deciphered in the intervening period but the projects doing so had a piecemeal feel to them. Some were predictable ...

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Making multicopters easier to use will increase the number in use

SMALL multicopter drones—souped-up versions of those sold by the million as Christmas toys—have tremendous potential for use in industry and agriculture. Rather than erecting scaffolding or bringing in a mechanical platform to inspect things like roofs and chimneys, the job can be done instantly, and probably for less money, by sending up a drone-mounted camera. Drones can also fly along ...

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Thicker eggshells help cuckoos hatch earlier than their nestmates

THE exhausting chore of raising young is one a few birds manage to avoid. By laying their eggs in the nests of others, they dupe those others into feeding their nestlings. Such brood parasitism has arisen independently at least three times, in the groups known as cuckoos, cowbirds and honeyguides. That gives biologists a tool with which to explore the ...

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