Expedition: Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

English map of Fernando de Noronha fortifications

This week I am packing my bags in anticipation of my trip to Brazil. Over the next month I will be working in the remote oceanic archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, supported by the Ciência sem Fronteiras programme of CAPES. I will be updating my Voices Blog regularly every few days with updates of the exciting research, science and conservation going on upon this scarcely documented part of the world, as well as my own intrepid adventures there. As well as the typical plight of introduced cats, rats and mice on the island, there are also more uniquely peculiar threats such as the introduced rock cavy and tegu lizards, themselves natives to continental Brazil but foreigners to the island. All this spells bad news for this seabird stronghold in the Atlantic Ocean, but a great opportunity for some island conservation.

English map of Fernando de Noronha fortifications, printed in 1793, but based on another survey conducted in 1760.

My first port of call will be São Paulo after an international flight which interestingly is one of the few in the world to have no emergency landings en route (the only land mass between New Zealand and South —> Read More Here

Neil deGrasse Tyson And NFL Football Maker Wilson Call Bull On Bill Belichick’s Deflategate Excuse

Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History and all-around scientific badass, said on Monday that New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is full of hot air when it comes to Deflategate.

Belichick claimed “atmospheric conditions” may have caused balls to lose air pressure during his team’s AFC Championship win over the Indianapolis Colts on Jan. 18.

But Tyson deflated that theory with a single tweet:

For the Patriots to blame a change in temperature for 15% lower-pressures, requires balls to be inflated with 125-degree air.

— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) January 26, 2015

Also on Monday, the NFL’s official football manufacturer said Belichick’s explanation didn’t fly.

That’s BS,” Wilson representative Jim Jenkins told Boston.com. “That’s BS, man.”

Jenkins told the website that different environments might cause the PSI inside the ball to change,but “maybe in a year or two.” To cause the pressure to change more quickly, Jenkins suggested a ball would have to be placed in a freezer, then thawed.

Tyson and Jenkins aren’t alone in dismissing Belichick. Last week, Bill Nye “The Science Guy” poked holes in another explanation floated by Belichick, that —> Read More Here

MRIs link impaired brain activity to inability to regulate emotions in autism

Researchers from the UNC School of Medicine have found that — when it comes to the ability to regulate emotions – brain activity in autistic people is significantly different than is brain activity in people without autism. Using fMRI, the researchers showed that symptoms including tantrums, irritability, anxiety, and depression seem to have a biological, mechanistic basis. —> Read More Here

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