Empathy through Music, Cracking Materials and Mammoth Extinctions
Empathy to our Ears
Playing music in groups increases empathy levels in young children, according to work published in the journal Psychology of Music.
Working with 52 children aged 8 to 11 and exposing them to a range of weekly activities including musical games or word activities, Tal-Chen Rabinowitch from the University of Cambridge found that children in the musical groups showed significantly increased levels of empathy when tested for compassion and responses to facial expressions.
It's thought that musical activities enabled the children to experience shared intentions with their peers...
A Cracking way to predict Material Failure
Electrical signals could be used to monitor cracks in industrial materials and predict their impending failure or breakage, according to work published in the journal PNAS.
Troy Shinbrot from Rutgers University in the US used powders such as flour and pharmaceutical drugs to model the composition and movement of materials such as ceramics and concrete, which are made by compressing powders together, and found that spikes in voltage occurred as crack-like defects occurred.
A Not-So Mammoth Extinction
The woolly mammoth had a slow decline to extinction due to a range of factors including changes in climate, habitat and living alongside humans.
Using radiocarbon dating on samples of tusks, bones and tissue from the mammoths, Glen MacDonald from the University of California at Los Angeles found that whilst the animals were abundant 30-45,000 years ago, they migrated and changed distribution due to warming climates, human civilisations and the growth of forests in the region of Beringia, which is now Alaska and Eastern Siberia, with their final extinction about 4000 years ago.
And finally, the Taily weed plant produces toxic compounds in its seeds to aids its spread across the Negev desert in Israel.
Denise Dearing from the University of Utah monitored the interactions of the plant with predators such as the spiny mouse in both wild and captive environments and found when the mice consumed the plants fruit, they spat out rather than ate the seeds inside.
Enzymes within the seeds activate toxic compounds when the seed is chewed, encouraging predators to spit them out and aid the seed's dispersal instead.