Tag Archives: Neal Colgrass

Aliens are likely huge, says scientist

Aliens are likely huge, says scientist

This video game publicity image released by 2K Games shows extraterrestrial invaders in “XCOM: Enemy Unknown.” (AP Photo/2K Games, File)

If you’re traveling to distant planets anytime soon, you might think twice about raising a ruckus: The inhabitants likely weigh an average of 650 pounds, a cosmologist says.

Apparently it all comes down to planet size and the conservation of energy,CNET reports. “Throughout the animal kingdom, species which are physically larger invariably possess a lower population density, possibly due to their enhanced energy demands,” says Fergus Simpson of the University of Barcelona.

That’s quite true on Earth, where we have seven billion (relatively big) people, and, the BBC noted last year, up to 100 trillion (tiny) ants.

Which brings us to outer space, where, Simpson says, “most inhabited planets are likely to be closer in size to Mars than the Earth.” And “since population density is widely observed to decline with increasing body mass, we conclude that most intelligent species are expected to exceed 300kg (660lbs),” he adds.

A scientist in Scotland says Simpson’s “average size calculation is reasonable,” but doesn’t account for gravitational pull—and planets with stronger gravity would probably have smaller animals, Newsweek reports.

SETI Institute researcher Seth Shostak says Simpson’s paper, published at arXiv.org, also leaves out evolutionary theory: With humans, for example, it’s our ability to walk upright and use opposable thumbs that gave us the upper hand on Earth.

“Polar bears are large but do not write great literature and build radio towers,” he says, “and a lot of that is probably because they are walking around on all fours.” (See which moon is the top contender for life outside Earth.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Scientist: Aliens Are Likely Huge

Leave a comment

Filed under Humor and Observations

Unexpected find: Seating plan for Rome’s Colosseum

Unexpected find: Seating plan for Rome's Colosseum

A man dressed as a gladiator enjoys his lunch in front of Rome’s Colosseum, Friday Nov. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Spectators who once flocked to Rome’s Colosseum could find their seats with the help of red numbers painted over entrance archways. What’s amazing is that hints of that paint still remain, Discovery reports.

A team restoring the Colosseum has spotted remnants of it in Latin numerals carved high up on an entrance gate. “This is an exceptional discovery because we did not expect that some trace of the red paint was still preserved,” Colosseum Director Rossella Rea tells the International Business Times.

The red color, derived from clay minerals and iron oxide, had to be repainted every two or three years—which makes the find that much more unexpected.

It also casts a light on how Romans found their seats when going to watch gladiators, wild beasts, and public executions. “The 50,000 spectators had a ticket that said which numbered gate arch they were supposed to enter,” says Rea.

“Inside the arena, there were other numbers to help people access their seats, which were assigned according to social class.” Admittance was free, but of course the emperor had the best seat in his private box, New Historian reports.

Rome’s social and political elite also sat high up, followed by upper-class businessmen and government officials, ordinary Roman men, and finally women and the poor, who had to sit or stand on wood benches.

Built in 70AD, the Colosseum is undergoing a $33 million restoration to clean off dirt that’s accumulated since the Middle Ages. (After its glory days, researchers say, the Colosseum became a “condo.”)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Surprise Find: Seating Plan for Rome’s Colosseum

Leave a comment

Filed under Humor and Observations

‘Alpha males’ like spicy food: study

'Alpha males' like spicy food: study

Small bottles of Tabasco sauce are boxed up at Avery Island, La., Monday, Oct. 15, 2007. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Wonder if a guy has high testosterone? Just put a spice bottle next to him and see how much he pours on his dinner, according to a new study.

Scientists at the University of Grenoble say that among 114 men aged 18 to 44, those who added the most spicy sauce to their plate of mashed potatoes had the highest levels of testosterone.

Study co-author Laurent Begue tells the Telegraph that testosterone leads men into “more stimulating social groups” and inspires them to “take more risks,” and adds that “in this case, it applies to risk-taking in taste.” Perhaps, he says, regular spicy-food consumption “contributes to increasing testosterone levels, although so far this has only been demonstrated on rodents.” Study participants were invited into a test center, asked to rate their love for spice, and told to spice up the mashed potatoes “to their taste with little sachets of Tabasco sauce,” NHS reports.

At some point the men gave saliva samples that scientists used to measure testosterone. Published in the peer-reviewed journal Physiology and Behavior, the study found a “statistically significant” but hardly impressive correlation of 0.29 between spice-love and testosterone-level (0 indicates no correlation and 1 a “perfect” one, says NHS).

Called “Some Like It Hot,” the study found no causal link between the hormone and spice. NHS reports that other studies have linked high male testosterone to men who love “dominant colors” like red, so who knows, maybe that was it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Humor and Observations

Huge, mysterious crack in the earth appears in Mexico

Scientists are scratching their heads over a crack in the Earth that’s more than half a mile long, Sky News reports. A drone captured video footage of the 16-foot-wide, 26-foot-deep crack, which appeared last week in remote farmland and cuts across Highway 26 between the coast and Hermosillo in northwest Mexico.

Some officials speculated a San Andreas Fault earthquake may have caused it—there was an earthquake along the fault on Sunday, First News notes—but experts at the University of Sonora are eying an underground stream as the possible culprit, Australia’s News Network reports.

Experts say a farmer-built levee started leaking, creating an underground stream that weakened the earth above it and caused it to crumble. A Mexican geologist says that rainwater could also be to blame, saturating the ground and causing “ditch flows,” but that there is no cause for alarm, according to the International Business Times.

The unstable ground is, however, forcing cars to drive around the area, and a second crack has reportedly opened up nearby. (Another geological marvel: water “missing for decades” is found 400 miles below the US.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Humor and Observations