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The Many Personalities of Animals

Katie-Leigh Corder, Fenella Saunders

AndySih

Have you ever wondered whether animals have personalities the way people do? Dr. Andy Sih, a professor of ecology at the University of California, Davis, researches animal personalities and shows that traits, such as an individual’s level of aggressiveness versus passivity, can impact an individual’s survival as well as the well-being of its surrounding group. Dr. Sih's work on insects even has implications for understanding how human behaviors are controlled by personality.

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The Promise and Peril of Drones

Katie-Leigh Corder, Katie L. Burke

CummingsDrones

The automation of tasks at work and at home is just around the corner, including driving cars, piloting planes, delivering packages, and transporting weapons. Unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, are rapidly evolving to meet both society’s and the military’s needs in automation and better efficiency.

Dr. Missy Cummings, an associate professor at Duke University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and the director of the Humans and Autonomy Lab, is at the forefront of drone technologies. During her time as one of the first female fighter pilots in the US Navy, Cummings observed that computers could take off and land a plane more precisely than humans. Because of this breakthrough and her fascination with this growing technology, she made a career change and began human–drone interaction research.


Photo from Duke University's Human and Autonomy Lab: hal.pratt.duke.edu/people

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From Balloons to Space Stations: Studying Cosmic Rays

Katie-Leigh Corder, Fenella Saunders

CREAM Inflating

Cosmic rays have mysterious qualities about them that scientists continue to research in order to better understand their origins and composition. Dr. Eun-Suk Seo, a professor of physics at the University of Maryland, and her colleagues, fly enormous balloons as large as a football stadium and a volume of 40-million-cubic feet for extended periods over Antarctica to reach as close to the top of the atmosphere as possible. The instruments in the balloons can then record the particles coming from cosmic rays before they break up in the atmosphere. Dr. Seo further explains how her work can help humans understand the origins of cosmic rays and why they are so highly energetic.

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Behind the Porpoise's Echolocation

Katie-Leigh Corder, Lee Miller, Fenella Saunders, Jamie L. Vernon, Magnus Wahlberg

2015-01WahlbergF1.jpgClick to Enlarge ImagePorpoises navigate through their environment, find prey, and avoid potential dangers with biological sonar, or echolocation clicks. These clicks are one of the most high-pitched signals produced by any animal. The time between the released clicks and the returning echo tells the porpoise the distance and location of the nearby object. If this object is prey, the porpoise will close in on it. The closer the porpoise gets the more clicks it will release. The click rate increases to several hundred clicks-per-second right as the prey is captured.

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Compounds Treat Substance Abuse and Parkinson's Disease

Katie L. Burke, Katie-Leigh Corder

CarrollPodcastF. Ivy Carroll is a distinguished fellow for medicinal chemistry at the Research Triangle Institute, where he is the director of their Center for Organic and Medicinal Chemistry. Carroll has spent more than 30 years studying potential treatments for substance abuse. Among them are two compounds, RTI-336 and JDTic, that he and colleagues studied as potential treatments for cocaine abuse, as well as a potential diagnostic agent for Parkinson’s disease, called Iodine-123 RTI-55.

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From Biology to Military History: Patterns in Animal Weaponry

Katie-Leigh Corder, Katie L. Burke, Sandra J. Ackerman

EmlenBookCoverWhat are the parallels between an ancient war ship and a dung beetle? More than you would think, actually! Douglas J. Emlen, PhD, a professor in the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of Montana, has a unique perspective on animal weaponry.

When he started to examine how humans engaged in warfare throughout time, Dr. Emlen discovered a consistent pattern that connects all the way back to animal weaponry. The pattern is so striking that he has made it the focus of his new book, Animal Weaponry: The Evolution of Battle.

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Through the Theoretical Glass

Katie L. Burke

2013-09Charbonneau

It’s difficult to envision what dimensions beyond 3D are, and why physicists, chemists, and mathematicians want to study them. Duke University chemist Patrick Charbonneau studies the theory behind the formation of glass, tackling questions about an area of research called the glass problem. His research has helped progress this field to a new paradigm. American Scientist associate editor Katie L. Burke interviewed him in September 2013.

Photo credit: Les Todd/Duke Photography.

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Revealing the Logic Behind Candy Crush

Katie-Leigh Corder, Fenella Saunders, Toby Walsh

2014-11WalshF2.jpgClick to Enlarge Image In this animation, Candy Crush is turned into a model electrical circuit, which can be used to structure the equivalent of a logic puzzle. Besides justifying Candy Crush addictions, this information could be used to harness the player power of this game for bigger concerns, including computer security. Watch the behind-the-scenes movements and how it is truly a logic puzzle.

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PODCASTS: From Balloons to Space Stations: Studying Cosmic Rays

CREAM Inflating

Cosmic rays have mysterious qualities about them that scientists continue to research in order to better understand their origins and composition. Dr. Eun-Suk Seo, a professor of physics at the University of Maryland, and her colleagues, fly enormous balloons as large as a football stadium and a volume of 40-million-cubic feet for extended periods over Antarctica to study particles coming from cosmic rays before they break up in the atmosphere.

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