SciTech Briefs

Texting affects ability to accept and interpret words

A linguist at the University of Calgary in Canada claims that texting has a negative impact on a person’s linguistic ability to interpret and accept words. The linguist, Joan Lee, asked 33 university students questions about their reading habits, including text messaging, and presented them with both real and made-up words.

The study found that people who read more traditional media such as books and newspapers were more accepting of new words, while those who read less but texted more were less accepting. “The people who accepted more words did so because they were better able to interpret the meaning of the word — or tolerate the word — even if they didn’t recognize the word,” Lee explained in a Science Daily article.

Source: Science Daily

Space junk ‘janitor’ plans to clean up outer space

Scientists at the Swiss Space Center are designing a machine that would clean up space junk orbiting around Earth. Since 1957, nearly 6,000 satellites have been launched into Earth’s orbit, but only an estimated 800 are still operational. The remaining satellites are classified as space junk.

The new machine will clean up this space junk by either capturing a piece of it and self-destructing by burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere, or by propelling it into Earth’s atmosphere to burn while the cleaning machine remains in space.

Source: news, European Space Agency news

Study shows babies understand words at six months

A study performed by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that infants between six and nine months old can understand words spoken to them before they even learn to speak.

The scientists showed 33 babies aged six to nine months images placed side by side.They then tracked their eye movements while a parent asked them questions such as, “Where is the apple?” The study found that the babies were more likely to fix their gaze on the correct image, indicating that they understood how the word was associated with the object.

Source: Fox News

Why do some dinosaur fossils look so weird?

Many fossilized dinosaurs have been found in twisted postures with their heads and necks abnormally arched backwards. Scientists have always thought that this occurred from death spasms, but two researchers from Switzerland and Germany have recently come to the conclusion that these twisted configurations may have occurred long after the dinosaurs’ deaths.

After experimenting with chicken carcasses, they found that a ligament in the upper spine released energy as surrounding muscles and other soft parts decayed, causing the neck to arch backwards. The scientists believe a similar process occurred in dinosaurs after death.

Source: Science Daily

Research reveals true cost of meat-based diet

Researchers at Lancaster University in England found that if everyone in the United Kingdom switched to a vegetarian diet, the reduced greenhouse gas emissions would be equivalent to a 50 percent reduction in exhaust pipe emissions from the United Kingdom’s entire passenger car fleet.

The scientists calculated the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that result from the production of various foods, and found that meat had the highest emissions. They concluded that switching to an all-vegetarian diet would decrease greenhouse gas emissions associated with food production by roughly 25 percent.

Source: Lancaster University news

Facebook hacker sentenced to eight months in jail

The hacker who breached Facebook’s cybersecurity last April received an eight-month prison sentence this past Friday. Last April, 26-year-old British student Glenn Mangham stole sensitive information from Facebook’s internal network while in his bedroom in York, a city in northern England.

Prosecutors described the incident as the most serious case of social media hacking to date. Facebook, which currently boasts 845 million users, released a statement saying, “We take any attempt to gain unauthorized access to our network very seriously.”

Source: Time magazine