Science & Technology


Human Culture Subject To Natural Selection

The process of natural selection can act on human culture as well as on genes, a new study finds. Scientists at Stanford University have shown for the first time that cultural traits affecting survival and reproduction evolve at a different rate than other cultural attributes. Speeded or slowed rates of evolution typically indicate the action of natural selection in analyses of the human genome.

This study of cultural evolution compares the rates of change for structural and decorative Polynesian canoe-design traits.

Polynesian outrigger canoe
©iStockphoto/Flemming Mahler
Polynesian outrigger canoe. The Stanford team studied reports of canoe designs from 11 Oceanic island cultures. They evaluated features that could contribute to the seaworthiness of the canoes and thus have a bearing on fishing success or survival during migration or warfare.

Mars study shows oceans of water bubbled up from below

Fan-shaped deltas at the edge of huge basins scattered across Mars were probably formed by a titanic influx of water, gushing from the bowels of the Red Planet, according to a study released Wednesday.

The origin and morphology of the deltas, studded with curious step-like terraces, have perplexed scientists since they were first observed three years ago.

Today the surface of Mars is bone dry, but a growing body of evidence suggests as much as a third of its surface was at one time covered with oceans.

Military Says Missile Hit Spy Satellite

Washington - A defense official says a missile launched from a Navy ship in the Pacific hit the U.S. spy satellite it was targeting 130 miles above Earth's surface.

Peer review: the myth of the noble scientist

Peer review is supposed to combat fraud, but it can just as easily hold back radical discoveries, says Terence Kealey

Shooting of US satellite 'delayed'

USS Lake
©US Navy
A missile fired from the USS Lake Erie will attempt to shoot down the crippled satellite

A US attempt to shoot down a damaged spy satellite would probably be delayed because of poor weather, Pentagon officials say.

Weather forecasts in the Pacific, where a US warship is stationed for the mission, indicated that seas would not be calm enough for the ship to fire a missile at the satellite and destroy it, the officials said.


Antikythera: Mysteries of Computer from 65BC Are Solved

A 2,000-year-old mechanical computer salvaged from a Roman shipwreck has astounded scientists who have finally unravelled the secrets of how the sophisticated device works.

Antikythera reconstruction
©Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty
A reconstruction of the Antikythera mechanism.

Moon, satellite to put on a show tonight

OTTAWA -- If the sky is clear tonight, look up and you'll see two special shows from outer space: one out-of-control spy satellite on its way to destruction and, for good measure, a total eclipse of the moon.

Both will be visible with the naked eye, although some of Canada will miss the dying spy satellite.

Weather likely to delay attempt at satellite shoot-down

Washington - The Pentagon says bad weather at sea appears likely to put off, until at least Thursday, an attempt to shoot down the wayward U.S. spy satellite.

Wikileaks: Still Standing

Little affected by last week's "temporary restraining order" slapped on Wikileaks, a website that allows whistleblowers to release obscured corporate and government documents for public scrutiny, users can still access the site's documents though its IP address ( as well as domain names including,, and

MIT explains spread of 1918 flu pandemic

MIT researchers have explained why two mutations in the H1N1 avian flu virus allowed the disease to spread during the 1918 pandemic that killed at least 50 million people. The work could help scientists detect and contain a future bird flu outbreak among humans.