Nature involves Science, too! (Nobody Cares...)

Casey Pelous

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Dakota Tebaldi

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Did you know that the first person who proved that atoms were really real wasn't a physicist, but a biologist?

...sort of. I mean, there was some collab involved. But still.

Anyways, watch this beautiful video! Note that to see some of the moving particles you'll need to full-screen the video. They're tiiiiiny.

 
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I honestly don't know where this should be posted.

When mega pop star Taylor Swift gave a series of concerts last August at the SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, regional seismic network stations recorded unique harmonic vibrations known as "concert tremor." A similar "Swift quake" had occurred the month before in Seattle, prompting scientists from the California Institute of Technology and UCLA to take a closer look at seismic data collected during Swift's LA concert.

The researchers concluded that the vibrations were largely generated by crowd motion as "Swifties" jumped and danced enthusiastically to the music and described their findings in a new paper published in the journal Seismological Research Letters. The authors contend that gaining a better understanding of atypical seismic signals like those generated by the Swift concert could improve the analysis of seismic signals in the future, as well as bolster emerging applications like using signals from train noise for seismic interferometry.
They also calculated how much radiated energy was produced by each song. "Shake It Off" produced the most radiated energy, equivalent to a local magnitude earthquake of 0.851. “Keep in mind this energy was released over a few minutes compared to a second for an earthquake of that size," said co-author Gabrielle Tepp of Caltech.
 

Beebo Brink

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Whales use complex communication systems we still don’t understand, a trope exploited in sci-fi shows like Apple TV’s Extrapolations. That show featured a humpback whale (voiced by Meryl Streep) discussing Mahler’s symphonies with a human researcher via some AI-powered inter-species translation app developed in 2046.

We’re a long way from that future. But a team of MIT researchers has now analyzed a database of Caribbean sperm whales’ calls and has found there really is a contextual and combinatorial structure in there. But does it mean whales have a human-like language and we can just wait until Chat GPT 8.0 to figure out how to translate from English to Sperm-Whaleish? Not really.
 
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Wild African elephants address each other with name-like calls, a rare ability among nonhuman animals, according to a new study published in Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Researchers from CSU, Save the Elephants and ElephantVoices used machine learning to confirm that elephant calls contained a name-like component identifying the intended recipient, a behavior they suspected based on observation. When the researchers played recorded calls, elephants responded affirmatively to calls that were addressed to them by calling back or approaching the speaker. Calls meant for other elephants received less of a reaction.
“Dolphins and parrots call one another by ‘name’ by imitating the signature call of the addressee,” said lead author Michael Pardo, who conducted the study as an NSF postdoctoral researcher at CSU and Save the Elephants, a research and conservation organization based in Kenya. “By contrast, our data suggest that elephants do not rely on imitation of the receiver’s calls to address one another, which is more similar to the way in which human names work.”
 

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Suppose you hold a cat, stomach up, and drop it from a second-story window. If a cat is simply a mechanical system that obeys Newton’s rules of matter in motion, it should land on its back. (OK, there are some technicalities—like this should be done in a vacuum, but ignore that for now.) Instead, most cats usually avoid injury by twisting themselves on the way down to land on their feet.

Most people are not mystified by this trick—everybody has seen videos attesting to cats’ acrobatic prowess. But for more than a century, scientists have wondered about the physics of how cats do it. Clearly, the mathematical theorem analyzing the falling cat as a mechanical system fails for live cats, as Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek points out in a recent paper.
“This theorem is not relevant to real biological cats,” writes Wilczek, a theoretical physicist at MIT. They are not closed mechanical systems, and can “consume stored energy … empowering mechanical motion.”

Nevertheless, the laws of physics do apply to cats—as well as every other kind of animal, from insects to elephants. Biology does not avoid physics; it embraces it. From friction on microscopic scales to fluid dynamics in water and air, animals exploit physical laws to run or swim or fly. Every other aspect of animal behavior, from breathing to building shelters, depends in some way on the restrictions imposed, and opportunities permitted, by physics.