The clime’s speech: Data analysis supports prediction that human language is influenced by environmental factors

(—Human speech is not typically thought to adapt to the environment, and a standard assumption in linguistics is that sound systems are in fact immune to ecological effects. Recently, however, scientists at University of Miami and several Max Planck Institutes in Germany and The Netherlands have, in a single study, predicted that complex tone patterns should not evolve in arid climates by reviewing laryngology data on the negative effects of aridity on vocal cord movement, and – by analyzing climatic and phonological data on over 3,700 languages – found support for their prediction. —> Read More Here

Expedition Explores Florida’s Springs

Light poor through a vent in the headspring of the Chassahowitzka River.

Florida is said to have the highest concentration of freshwater springs on Earth. The Florida Wildlife Corridor #Glades2Gulf Expedition is traversing springs country near the Gulf of Mexico and recently explored several of these wonderful windows into the underground aquifer.

Our first plunge was into the headspring of the Chassahowitzka River before following the river’s 5-mile journey downstream to the Gulf of Mexico. In 2013, the Southwest Florida Water Management District led a restoration of the headspring that pumped out truckloads of sediment and sand. Nearly 4 tons of nitrogen were removed. Though upper springs are clear, the spring runs and river are still challenged by toxic algae fed by nutrient-laden runoff from development in the springshed.

Light poor through a vent in one of the Chassahowitzka River springs. (Photo by Carlton Ward Jr /
Expedition member Joe Guthrie dives through a tunnel in a Chassahowitzka spring.
Expedition member Joe Guthrie dives through a tunnel in a Chassahowitzka spring. (Photo by Carlton Ward Jr.)

A few miles inland, the crystal-clear Rainbow River flows from the headspring in Rainbow River State Park to meet the Withlacoochee River near the town of Dunnellon. —> Read More Here

New Stem Cell Advance May Be Big Step Toward Cure For Hair Loss

Hats off to researchers in California. They’ve taken what appears to be a big step toward the development of a cure for hair loss, a condition that affects 50 million men and 30 million women in the U.S. alone.

The scientists, working at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., showed that stem cells derived from human skin can be used to grow hair–at least in mice.

“The method is a marked improvement over current methods that rely on transplanting existing hair follicles from one part of the head to another,” Dr. Alexey Terskikh, an associate professor at the institute and a member of the team of researchers who demonstrated the experimental technique, said in a written statement. “Our stem cell method provides an unlimited source of cells from the patient for transplantation and isn’t limited by the availability of existing hair follicles.”

In other words, unlike conventional hair transplantation and other hair restoration treatments now in use, the technique could–at least in theory–grow lots of hair on the heads of men and women who are completely bald.

That would be a very big deal.

“If this approach is proven to work in humans, it will change existing —> Read More Here

Crystal light: New family of light-converting materials points to cheaper, more efficient solar power and LEDs

Engineers have shone new light on an emerging family of solar-absorbing materials that could clear the way for cheaper and more efficient solar panels and LEDs. The materials, called perovskites, are particularly good at absorbing visible light, but had never been thoroughly studied in their purest form: as perfect single crystals. Using a new technique, researchers grew large, pure perovskite crystals and studied how electrons move through the material as light is converted to electricity. —> Read More Here

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