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Sun, 28 Feb 2021
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Birdsongs give insights into learning new behaviors

Young songbirds babble before they can mimic an adult's song, much like their human counterparts. Now, in work that offers insights into how birds - and perhaps people - learn new behaviors, MIT scientists have found that immature and adult birdsongs are driven by two separate brain pathways, rather than one pathway that slowly matures.

The work is reported in the May 2 issue of Science.

"The babbling during song learning exemplifies the ubiquitous exploratory behavior that we often call play but that is essential for trial-and-error learning," comments Michale Fee, the senior author of the study and a neuroscientist in the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT and an associate professor in MIT's Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.

Evil Rays

Report: More than 100 hurt in western Iran earthquake

An earthquake hit western Iran Thursday, causing minor injuries to more than 100 people, state TV reported.

The report said the magnitude 4.7 quake jolted three towns in Lorestan province at 4:45 a.m., but no one was seriously hurt or required hospitalization.

The head of Lorestan's emergency department, Reza Ariai, was quoted as saying that at least 70 of the wounded lived in Boroujerd, about 200 miles southwest of Tehran.

Target

'Sonic boom' preceded 5.2 quake near Burnt Ranch, Northern California

A magnitude-5.2 earthquake, centered 11 miles east southeast of Willow Creek, jolted the North Coast at 8:03 p.m. on Tuesday.

The Unites States Geological Survey termed it a level VI temblor with a strong shake and light damage.

A magnitude-2.0 aftershock hit five minutes later, 16 miles to the east of Willow Creek.

"It was sort of like a sonic boom," said Brenda Simmons of SkyCrest Lake resort in Burnt Ranch. "It was a very loud noise before the house started shaking. It was pretty scary, the biggest thing I've ever felt here. (It) lasted 10 seconds max. I didn't feel the aftershock."

Alarm Clock

Fairly strong earthquake jolts Chiba Prefecture

A fairly strong earthquake jolted Chiba Prefecture on Thursday morning, the Meteorological Agency said.

Arrow Down

Global warming may 'stop', scientists predict

Global warming will stop until at least 2015 because of natural variations in the climate, scientists have said.

Bizarro Earth

Pacific Decadal Oscillation Has Shifted to Cool Phase, Reducing Global Temperatures: NASA

A cool-water anomaly known as La Niña occupied the tropical Pacific Ocean throughout 2007 and early 2008. In April 2008, scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced that while the La Niña was weakening, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation - a larger-scale, slower-cycling ocean pattern - had shifted to its cool phase.

PDO
©NASA
La Nina and Pacific Decadal Oscillation Cool the Pacific

Cloud Lightning

Maine flooding 'greater than a 100-year event'

FORT KENT, Maine - The raging St. John River spilled its banks, flooding more than 100 homes as emergency management officials feared the region could face its worst flooding in modern history Thursday.

Fort Kent, ME
©Shawn Patrick Ouellette / AP
A man walks his dog past flooded Main St. in Fort Kent, Maine, on Wednesday.

Phoenix

Wildfire burns toward Grand Canyon

PHOENIX - Firefighters are battling a forest fire burning out of control toward the Grand Canyon, fanned by strong winds and dry conditions, authorities said on Wednesday.

The so-called X Fire has burned 2,000 acres of the Kaibab National Forest in northern Arizona, and was burning toward the Grand Canyon National Park early on Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the forest service said.

"The fire is not contained at this time. It's still windy and moisture levels are low so we are concerned," said Margaret Hangan, a spokeswoman for the Kaibab National Forest.


Info

Birds can 'see' the Earth's magnetic field

It has been debated for nearly four decades but no one has yet been able to prove it is chemically possible. Now good evidence suggests that birds can actually "see" the lines of the Earth's magnetic field.

Klaus Schulten of the University of Illinois, proposed forty years ago that some animals - including migratory birds - must have molecules in their eyes or brains which respond to magnetism. The problem has been that no one has been able to find a chemical sensitive enough to be influenced by Earth's weak geomagnetic field.

Now Peter Hore and colleagues at the University of Oxford have found one.

Bulb

Scientists discover new ocean current

Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have discovered a new climate pattern called the North Pacific Gyre Oscillation. This new pattern explains, for the first time, changes in the water that are important in helping commercial fishermen understand fluctuations in the fish stock. They're also finding that as the temperature of the Earth is warming, large fluctuations in these factors could help climatologists predict how the oceans will respond in a warmer world. The research appears in the April 30 edition of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

"We've been able to explain, for the first time, the changes in salinity, nutrients and chlorophyll that we see in the Northeast Pacific," said Emanuele Di Lorenzo, assistant professor in Georgia Tech's School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

Image
©Georgia Tech
The North Pacific Gyre Oscillation explains changes in salinity, nutrients and chlorophyll seen in the Northeast Pacific.