Dogs hear our words and how we say them

When people hear another person talking to them, they respond not only to what is being said — those consonants and vowels strung together into words and sentences — but also to other features of that speech — the emotional tone and the speaker’s gender, for instance. Now, a report in the journal Current Biology on Nov. 26 provides some of the first evidence of how dogs also differentiate and process those various components of human speech. —> Read More Here

Feds Cancel Permit For Idaho Wolf-Killing Derby

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has withdrawn a permit allowing a pro-hunting group to hold a wolf- and coyote-shooting derby on public land in Idaho.

Late Tuesday, the agency canceled the permit issued Nov. 13 to Idaho for Wildlife that provided use of about 3 million acres of federal land for the three-day event in early January.

The agency says the group modified the derby’s rules, making it unclear if the permit still applied.

Derby organizers say the agency caved in to environmental groups but that the event will still be held on U.S. Forest Service land and private ranches in the east-central part of the state near Salmon.

The BLM faced two federal lawsuits from conservation groups contending the agency violated environmental laws in issuing the permit.

—> Read More Here

Exploring the Philosophy of ‘Interstellar': Why Is the Universe Like This?

‘Interstellar,’ the new science fiction film, is rightly praised for its adherence to the real science of black holes, wormholes, extra dimensions and time travel. Moreover, promoting frontier concepts of cosmology builds public appreciation of real science. Successful entertainment need not be all escapist and unscientific like, say, magic (‘Harry Potter’) and fantasy (‘Transformers,’ ‘X-men’).

It goes deeper. Can grasping the exotic nature of reality approach bigger issues of meaning and purpose (if there be any)? What’s it all about? Perhaps the philosophy of ‘Interstellar,’ as well as its science, is worth exploring.

The cutting-edge science comes from Kip Thorne, Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, Emeritus, at Caltech, a global authority on gravitation, general relativity and “the warped side of the universe,” as he likes to say. Kip is an executive producer of the film and his new book, appropriately, is The Science of Interstellar.

Kip stresses “gravitational anomalies” as both changing the course of astronomy and playing a major role in the film. “Gravitational anomalies are a big deal, today and in the past,” he says. “And we’re still trying to figure out what’s going on.” In astronomy, gravitational anomalies in Mercury’s orbit were explained by Einstein’s —> Read More Here

Teens Have Fewer Friends, But They’re Less Lonely Than Ever Before

Much has been written in recent years about how personal electronics and social networking services seem to be isolating us more and more from each other. American adults are lonelier than they used to be, and there’s research to suggest that social media use is correlated with feelings of disconnection and dissatisfaction.

Yet among teens — arguably the most tech-saturated demographic — feelings of loneliness actually appear to be decreasing, according to research publicized this week at the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Researchers from two Australian schools, Griffith University and the University of Queensland, conducted two sets of data analysis on high school and college students. First, they looked at a small sample of studies on loneliness levels in college students from 1978 through 2009. This research suggested that college students in recent years are less lonely than the college students of past decades.

For the second data set, the researchers examined a large sample of American high school students between 1991 and 2012. The data came from the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future project, a long-running study of the feelings and behaviors of high school students. The —> Read More Here

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