A collection of the best space images of the week. Above: June 30: A magnificent view of the region around the star R Coronae Australis, which lies at the heart of a nearby star-forming region and is surrounded by a delicate bluish reflection nebula embedded in a huge dust cloud. The image reveals surprising new details in this dramatic area of sky.
See more at Fox News (Thanks @XxLadyClaireXx)
“Researchers reporting in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin last week say people are drawn to others who resemble their parents or themselves. This may explain why incest taboos are found in many cultures – to counter a natural tendency.
University of Illinois psychologist, Chris Fraley, said there had been a century-long debate on whether incest taboos are psychological or cultural adaptations designed to suppress a biological urge. In the early 20th century Sigmund Freud, a psychoanalyst, proposed it was psychological, while Edward Westermarck, a sociologist, proposed it was cultural. Westermarck thought there was a critical time in childhood during which people would not find attractive people who were raising them or raised with them.
Most modern researchers think Westermarck was correct, but a new study led by Fraley suggests there may also be a psychological component in which we align ourselves with our kin, who are genetically close to us.
The research involved three experiments. In the first, volunteers were shown pictures of strangers’ faces and asked to rate them on sexual attractiveness. They were unaware that they were also being shown photographs just before the strangers’ faces, and these were flashed so quickly they could only be processed subliminally. Half the volunteers were flashed a picture of their opposite gender parent, while the remaining subjects were flashed a picture of an unrelated person.
The results of this experiment were that those who were exposed to a picture of their parent generally found the stranger’s face more sexually attractive than those who were shown the photo of an unrelated person.”
Read more at Physorg
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, a Distinguished Speaker at the University at Buffalo, answered a student’s question about federal cutbacks to NASA funding. Tyson is host of the PBS series NOVA scienceNOW and director of New York City’s Hayden Planetarium.
“Through the process of natural selection, it finds new uses for existing features, often resulting in what is known as convergent evolution — the development of similar biological traits in different orders of animals, such as powered flight in birds and bats.
Now, research by University of Nebraska-Lincoln biologists has found convergent evolution of a key physiological innovation that traces back through the two deepest branches of the vertebrate family tree.
A team led by Jay Storz (prounounced storts), assistant professor of biological sciences, analyzed the complete genome sequences of multiple vertebrate species and found that jawless fishes (e.g., lampreys and hagfish) and jawed vertebrates (pretty much everything else, including humans) independently invented different mechanisms of blood-oxygen transport to sustain aerobic metabolism.”
Read more at Physorg
“Your brain is hard wired to pay attention to about 150 people. Try to have a relationship with any more than that, and your life will turn to pure crap. Just ask the Military, Gore-Tex, or Krippendorf’s tribe. They’ll all tell you the same thing. One fifty is the way to go. They’ve known for hundreds of years that people work best in groups of 150 or less. Now it’s your turn.
The human cortex, responsible for complex thought and reasoning, is overgrown in humans when compared to other mammals. Scientists have argued for years about why this is the case.
One theory holds that our brains evolved because our primate ancestors began to gather food in more complex ways. They began eating fruit instead of grasses and leaves. This involved traveling long distances to find food, and required each species to maintain a complex mental map in order to keep track of fruit trees. More brainpower might have been needed to determine if a fruit was ripe, or to discern proper methods for peeling fruit or cracking nuts.
The problem with this theory is that if one tries to match brain size with the eating habits of primates, it doesn’t work. Some small-brained monkeys are eating fruit and maintaining complex maps and some larger brained primates are eating leaves.”
Read more at Common Sense