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Octopuses Reveal First RNA Editing in Response to Environment

Without genetic change we'd be nowhere—well perhaps just unicellular blobs kicking around in ponds. Alterations in DNA, such as point mutations, duplications, rearrangements and insertions from microbial neighbors, have helped humans and our deep-time ancestors climb out of the swamps and, in our case at least, start swimming in backyard pools.But these basic tools of evolution don't entirely explain how we and other organisms have evolved to be so complex...

January 5, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

Polar Bears Say "Stay Away!"

It's winter, and while Los Angeles has been unseasonably warm, I find my mind wandering to cooler things, like polar bears. In most zoos and animal parks, polar bears ( ursus maritimus ) attract such a disproportionate amount of attention that they are referred to in the industry as "charismatic megafauna," or in other words, "really cool animals." Perhaps it is because it is especially rare for the average zoo-goer to happen upon a polar bear in the wild, or because they live in such an inhospitable environment...

January 5, 2012 — Jason G. Goldman

Jennifer Ouellette on the Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson

Video of the Week #24, January 4th, 2012 From: Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson Scientific American blogger Jennifer Ouellette (Cocktail Party Physics) dazzled the audience of the Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson during her appearance to promote her latest book, The Calculus Diaries ...

January 4, 2012 — Bora Zivkovic

The Psychology Behind Gift-Giving and Generosity

A few weeks ago psychologist Dan Ariely, inspired by the holiday frenzy, pondered the hows and whys of gift-giving. Reading his piece—an endorsement of a behavioral economics view that challenges the rational economic contention that gift-giving is a largely irrational dilemma—at once brought to mind the story that has to me (and, I suspect, to many others) always epitomized the spirit of gifts and generosity: O...

January 4, 2012 — Maria Konnikova

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