Tag Archives: harvard university

Free will seems a matter of mind, not soul

A new study tested whether people believe free will arises from a metaphysical basis or mental capacity. Even though most respondents said they believed humans to have souls, they judged free will and assigned blame for transgressions based on pragmatic considerations — such as whether the actor in question had the capacity to make an intentional and independent choice.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Across the board, even if they believed in the concept of a soul, people in a new study ascribed free will based on down-to-Earth criteria: Did the actor in question have the capacity to make an intentional and independent choice? The study suggests that while grand metaphysical views of the universe remain common, they have little to do with how people assess each other’s behavior. (more…)

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What singing fruit flies can tell us about quick decisions

You wouldn’t hear the mating song of the male fruit fly as you reached for the infested bananas in your kitchen. Yet, the neural activity behind the insect’s amorous call could help scientists understand how you made the quick decision to pull your hand back from the tiny swarm.

Male fruit flies base the pitch and tempo of their mating song on the movement and behavior of their desired female, Princeton University researchers have discovered. In the animal kingdom, lusty warblers such as birds typically have a mating song with a stereotyped pattern. A fruit fly’s song, however, is an unordered series of loud purrs and soft drones made by wing vibrations, the researchers reported in the journal Nature. A male adjusts his song in reaction to his specific environment, which in this case is the distance and speed of a female — the faster and farther away she’s moving, the louder he “sings.” (more…)

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Methane leaks in the US are undercounted, new study shows

ANN ARBOR — About 50 percent more of the greenhouse gas methane has been seeping into the atmosphere than previously thought, according to far-reaching findings that synthesize two decades’ worth of methane studies in North America.

Methane is the main ingredient in natural gas. (more…)

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Murderers Who Killed During Robberies More Likely to Return to Crime When Paroled

Murderers who committed homicide during robberies are more likely to commit crimes again when they are paroled, compared to murderers who committed homicide under other circumstances, according to research from North Carolina State University and Harvard University.

“We wanted to know what determines whether former homicide offenders commit crime when released from prison,” says Dr. Margaret Zahn, a professor of sociology at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the research. “We found that the motivation for murder was a significant predictor.” (more…)

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Discovery of new fossils reveals key link in evolution of hind limbs

Researchers have discovered well-preserved pelves and a partial pelvic fin from Tiktaalik roseae, a 375 million-year-old transitional species between fish and the first legged animals, which reveal that the evolution of hind legs actually began as enhanced hind fins. This challenges existing theory that large, mobile hind appendages were developed only after vertebrates transitioned to land.

The scientists describe the fossils in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online on Jan. 13. The piece marks the inaugural article for Prof. Neil Shubin, Robert R. Bensley Distinguished Service Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, as a member of the National Academy of Sciences. (more…)

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The Mystery of Lizard Breath

One-Way Air Flow May Be 270 Million Years Old

Air flows mostly in a one-way loop through the lungs of monitor lizards – a breathing method shared by birds, alligators and presumably dinosaurs, according to a new University of Utah study.

The findings – published online Wednesday, Dec. 11 in the journal Nature – raise the possibility this breathing pattern originated 270 million years ago, about 20 million years earlier than previously believed and 100 million years before the first birds. Why remains a mystery. (more…)

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UCLA researchers’ new technique improves accuracy, ease of cancer diagnosis

‘Deformability cytometry’ can closely analyze more than 1,000 cells per second

A team of researchers from UCLA and Harvard University have demonstrated a technique that, by measuring the physical properties of individual cells in body fluids, can diagnose cancer with a high degree of accuracy.

The technique, which uses a deformability cytometer to analyze individual cells, could reduce the need for more cumbersome diagnostic procedures and the associated costs, while improving accuracy over current methods. The initial clinical study, which analyzed pleural fluid samples from more than 100 patients, was published in the current issue of peer-reviewed journal Science Translational Medicine.  (more…)

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A decline in creativity? It depends on how you look

Research in recent years has suggested that young Americans might be less creative now than in decades past, even while their intelligence — as measured by IQ tests — continues to rise.

But new research from the University of Washington Information School and Harvard University, closely studying 20 years of student creative writing and visual artworks, hints that the dynamics of creativity may not break down as simply as that. (more…)

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