Science News

Evolution: Four aspects of human thought. PhysOrg: ' In new work presented for the first time at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Marc Hauser, professor of psychology, biological anthropology, and organismic and evolutionary biology in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, presents his theory of “humaniqueness,” the factors that make human cognition special. He presents four evolved mechanisms of human thought that give us access to a wide range of information and the ability to find creative solutions to new problems based on access to this information. ... These four novel components of human thought are the ability to combine and recombine different types of information and knowledge in order to gain new understanding; to apply the same “rule” or solution to one problem to a different and new situation; to create and easily understand symbolic representations of computation and sensory input; and to detach modes of thought from raw sensory and perceptual input.'

History: Napoleon not murdered, say Italian physicists. PhysicsWorld: 'The idea that Napoleon Bonaparte was murdered by arsenic poisoning appears to have been ruled out by new research by nuclear physicists in Italy. The team analysed samples of the French emperor’s hair that they had irradiated with neutrons and found that it contains about the same amount of arsenic as hair from several of his contemporaries — suggesting that the poison probably came from environmental sources such as wallpaper dyes, rather than from a malicious poisoner. ...'

Astronomy: Organics on Titan. Astronomy: 'Saturn's orange moon Titan has hundreds of times more liquid hydrocarbons than all the known oil and natural gas reserves on Earth, according to new data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. The hydrocarbons rain from the sky, collecting in vast deposits that form lakes and dunes.'

Mathematics: MathWorld gets a new look. Wolfram Blog reports on the newest upgrades at Wolfram MathWorld. Also, if you are a math geek, do not miss Wolfram Demonstrations. It's crack for mathheads, baby.

Marine life: Save the sharks! PhysOrg reports that extinction may be looming in the future of many large shark species.