TIME animals

Dog Flu Is Spreading In The Midwest

'It’s believed that the H3N2 strain was introduced here from Asia, but how it happened is not known'

Pet owners beware: dog flu exists and it’s spreading. At least 1,000 dogs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana were infected in the last month, according to research from the University of Wisconsin and Cornell University.

Doctors at the two schools identified the virus as a strain of H3N2, a branch of the disease commonly found in Chinese and South Korean dog populations. The virus is not believed to spread to humans.

“It’s believed that the H3N2 strain was introduced here from Asia, but how it happened is not known,” said Keith Poulsen, a University of Wisconsin veterinarian, in a press release.

Veterinarians suggest pet owners largely approach dog flu the way they approach human influenza. Dogs should be vaccinated and avoid contact with other dogs in areas with flu outbreaks. Additionally, dogs’ human handlers should wash their hands before touching other dogs.

TIME human behavior

Men Give More Generously to Attractive Fundraisers, Study Finds

Fundraising
Peter Dazeley—Getty Images

They'll also compete against one another to give more generously

Fundraisers might want to make a note of this.

Men give more generously to fundraising campaigns if they see that other men have donated large amounts and if the fundraiser is an attractive woman, a new study published in Current Biology has found.

Researchers from University College London (UCL) and the University of Bristol say this “competitive helping” exists in the human subconscious because it was evolutionarily beneficial.

The scientists wanted to find out why people behave generously in situations when there is no obvious benefit to them in doing so. And according to a co-author of the study, UCL’s Nichola Raihani, this competitive generosity is more of a male trait (although they don’t specify whether sexual orientation plays a part).

“We found a remarkably strong response with men competing to advertise generosity to attractive women, but didn’t see women reacting in a similar way. Showing competitive helping is more a male than female trait,” she said.

Raihani used online fundraising pages from the 2014 London marathon and had 668 participants rate the attractiveness of the fundraiser. Personal information such as the name and gender of fundraiser and a photo are present on the pages, as well as the name and gender of other donors and how much they have given.

They found that when the fundraiser was an attractive woman (attractiveness, according to the researchers, had a lot to do with facial expressions such as smiling), men would compete with one another and make larger donations.

“Fundraising pages provide a fascinating real-life laboratory for looking at charity donations. Previously, we saw how donors responded to how much other people had given. Now we see that the response depends — albeit subconsciously — on the fundraiser’s attractiveness,” said co-author Sarah Smith of the University of Bristol.

TIME animals

Here Is the Biggest Reason You Love Your Dog

Go ahead, try to look away
Roberto Machado Noa— © 2014 Roberto Machado Noa Go ahead, try to look away

Never mind the petting or playing; it's all about the eyes

Humans are irrational in a whole lot of ways, but nothing quite compares to our love for our dogs. They provide us neither food nor conversation nor, in most cases, protection. What’s more, they cost us a fortune—a big share of the $60 billion Americans spend on all pets per year goes to the 70 million dogs living in 43 million U.S. households.

But never mind. Dogs and humans have created an improbable bond that is nearly as close as the one we share with our own kind. Now, a study in Science reveals one of the reasons the two species love each other so: the secret, it turns out, is in the eyes.

The average dog spends a lot of its time gazing at it owner adoringly, and owners—whether they know it or not—spend a lot of time gazing back. That’s very different from the way things work with other species—particularly the dog’s close cousin, the wolf—which typically use eye contact as a threat display or a means of domination.

To test the effect of the human-dog gaze, a team of researchers headed by Miho Nagasawa of Japan’s Azabu University conducted a pair of experiments, both of which involved the hormone oxytocin, nicknamed the cuddle chemical because it facilitates bonding in humans and many other species. Oxytocin levels skyrocket in people who are in love and in new parents, and breastfeeding blows the doors off the concentrations of the stuff in the mother’s blood and milk, which means it goes straight to the babies, making them feel the love too.

In the first part of Nagasawa’s study, urine samples were collected from 21 pairs of dogs and owners, both before and after experimental sessions in which the owners petted the dogs, talked to the dogs, and often simply gazed at the dogs. As a control group, 11 pairs of owners and hand-raised wolves also provided samples and also performed the interactions.

Consistently, the oxytocin levels of both the dogs and the humans were higher at the end of the sessions—and usually by about the same percentage for each owner-dog pair. But it was among the pairs in which there was a lot more gazing and a lot less touching and talking that the levels were highest—high enough to cross the threshold of statistical significance. None of this was true in the wolf-human pairs.

“The duration of the dog-to-owner gaze…significantly explained the oxytocin-change ratio,” the investigators wrote.

In the second experiment, the investigators similarly collected before-and-after urine samples from dog-human pairs. But this time, either oxytocin or an inert solution was administered to the dogs nasally before the interactions began. Each dog was then released into a room with its owner and two strangers, and though the dogs typically approached their owners and nuzzled them, the humans were instructed neither to talk to the dogs nor touch them back, but simply to meet their gaze.

Of all the dogs, the females that had received the oxytocin gazed at their owners most—and it was those females’ owners whose oxytocin levels were the highest afterwards. Female dogs, the researchers believe, are simply more susceptible to the effects of oxytocin than males—no surprise since they’re the ones who bear and nurse puppies. To the extent that the males were affected by the intranasal dosing at all, the impact might have been blunted by the mere fact that there were strangers in the room.

“The results of experiment 2 may indicate that male dogs were attending to both their owners and to unfamiliar people as a form of vigilance,” the researchers wrote.

Whatever the explanation for the dogs’ behavior, it’s clear that it works. It’s been many thousands of years since dogs climbed aboard the human caravan—guarding our campfires and protecting our livestock in exchange for food and a warm place to sleep. But as with all good friends, the relationship deepened, and as with all good friends too, the right chemistry—literally—is one of the reasons.

TIME TIME 100

Meet the Women Scientists of TIME 100

Joanne Liu TIME 100 Women Scientists
Bryan Schutmaat for TIME Joanne Liu

These five most influential women are pioneers in the field of science and medicine

It will surprise no one to learn that women are vastly underrepresented in the field of science. But in this year’s TIME 100, five outstanding women who are making huge strides in the fields of medicine, genetics, and infectious disease, made the list.

Read more about these five influential scientists.

Dr. Joanne Liu, International president of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
Liu and her team at MSF were the first to respond to the Ebola outbreak in Guinea. Liu has become a leader in the outbreak, and has fiercely and publicly criticized the international community for its slow response to the outbreak.

Emmanuelle Charpentier & Jennifer Doudna, Creators of gene-editing technology
Charpentier and Doudna developed a groundbreaking gene-editing technique called CRISPR-Cas9, which allows scientists to add or remove genetic material as they please. The process has major implications for a variety of health problems from HIV to sickle cell anemia to cancer. In theory, CRISPR-Cas9 could be used to edit any human gene.

Dr. Pardis Sabeti, Geneticist who sequenced the Ebola genome from the most recent outbreak
Sabeti and her team are responsible for quickly sequencing the genome of the Ebola virus that has ravaged Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The task was important, since it determined that the disease was indeed spreading from person to person. Many of her collaborators and fellow researchers died during the outbreak. When she’s out of the lab, Sabeti sings in a rock band.

Elizabeth Holmes, Health technology entrepreneur
Holmes is the CEO of Theranos, a blood testing company that has challenged the traditional lab testing model. She studied chemistry before dropping out of Stanford University her sophomore year to start her company, and at age 31 she made Forbes’ Billionaires List as the youngest self-made woman billionaire.

TIME space

Watch the SpaceX Rocket Landing in Slow Motion

The rocket tipped over due to excess lateral velocity

SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket with the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft on Tuesday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, marking the sixth resupply mission for SpaceX to the International Space Station and a second chance at attempting to recover a Falcon 9 rocket. The company released this HD slow motion video on Wednesday that shows the rocket approach SpaceX’s autonomous drone barge landing platform, then tipping over after impact. SpaceX CEO and CTO Elon Musk tweeted:

TIME Biology

Here’s Why You Have a Chin

Gorgeous—and pretty much useless
Chev Wilkinson; Getty Images Gorgeous—and pretty much useless

Hint: You could do perfectly well without it

Nature is nothing if not parsimonious, especially when it comes to the human body. There’s a reason we don’t have webbed feet or nut-cracking beaks like other species, and that’s because we don’t need them. The system isn’t perfect, of course. If you ever wind up having painful abdominal surgery, odds are pretty fair that it will be your good-for-nothing appendix that’s to blame. And wisdom teeth seem a lot less wise when you consider how often they fall down on the job and need to get yanked.

As it turns out, the same why-bother pointlessness is true of what you might consider one of your loveliest features: your chin.

Researchers have long wondered what the adaptive purpose of the chin could possibly be. Sexual selection seems like an obvious answer, since an attractive chin increases your chances of mating. But a feature needs a function before it can appear in the first place. Only then can it be assigned some aesthetic value.

The other, better answer is all about chewing. The jaw exerts enormous forces when it bites and chews—up to 70 lbs. per sq. in. (32 kg per 6.5 sq. cm) for the molars. Conscious clenching increases the figure, and people who grind their teeth in their sleep may exceed the average force 10-fold. What’s more, the jaw moves in more than just one axis, both chewing up and down and grinding side to side.

That, so the thinking went, might increase bone mass in the same way physical exercise builds muscle mass. And bone mass, in turn, may produce the chin. The problem with the theory, however, is that it doesn’t account for Neanderthals and other primates—including the great apes—which lack prominent chins but in many cases have far more powerful bites than we do.

To answer the riddle, Nathan Holton, a post-doctoral researcher who specializes in craniofacial structure in the University of Iowa school of orthodontics, selected 37 of the many subjects whose facial measurements have been taken regularly from age 3 to young adulthood, as past of the longstanding Iowa Facial Growth Study (yes, there is such a thing).

With the help of basic physics, it’s possible to determine how much force any one jaw exerts without the subjects’ ever having to be tested directly with a bite gauge. Measuring the geometry of what orthodontic researchers call the mandibular symphysis and what everyone else just calls the chin region, and comparing that to what is known as the bending moment arm—or the distance between where a force is initially applied (in this case the muscles in the jaw) and where that force is eventually felt (the chin)—yields a pretty good measure of force exerted.

“Think about removing the lug nuts from a wheel on your car,” Holton wrote in an e-mail to TIME. “The longer the wrench, the easier it is because the longer wrench increases the moment arm, allowing you to create more force.”

And more force, in this case, should mean more bone mass in the chin—but that’s not what the results of the new research showed. Not only did the two turn out to be unrelated in the 37 subjects studied, but Holton and his colleagues even found that as the face matures, the chin is less adept at resisting mechanical forces, which is the whole reason it was assumed to grow more pronounced in the first place.

So why did we grow chins at all? The answer is, we didn’t. Holton and his collaborator, University of Iowa anthropologist Robert Franciscus, instead suspect that the face shrank away from behind the chin as primitive and pre-humans became modern humans, making it appear larger relative to everything else. The reason, as with so many things in the human species, has to do with male behavior—specifically violent male behavior.

As humans migrated from Africa 20,000 years ago and settled down into societies, males had to become less competitive and more cooperative—giving an advantage to those with lower testosterone levels. And reduced testosterone softens and shrinks the craniofacial structure.

“What we are arguing is that modern humans had an advantage at some point to have a well-connected social network,” Franciscus said in a statement accompanying the study. “And for that to happen, males had to tolerate each other. There had to be more curiosity and inquisitiveness than aggression, and the evidence of that lies in facial architecture.”

It wasn’t until we had our chins that we set about assigning value to them—strong ones, weak ones, angular, round, cleft or dimpled, depending on your tastes. Those tastes—and the mating choices that arise from them—ensure that the chin will stay. It might be biomechanically useless, but you’d look awfully silly without one.

Read next: Can Plastic Surgery Make You More Likeable? A Close Look at a New Study

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Television

Netflix Announces Planet Earth Sequel Series Our Planet

A pair of polar bear cubs following their mother on ice at Hudson Bay, Canada, from the opening episode of Discovery's "Planet Earth" series.
Discovery Channel/BBC—AP A pair of polar bear cubs following their mother on ice at Hudson Bay, Canada, from the opening episode of Discovery's "Planet Earth" series.

The follow-up series will feature "never-before-filmed wilderness areas from the ice caps and deep ocean to deserts and remote forests"

Netflix has announced Our Planet, a follow-up documentary series to the BBC’s seminal Planet Earth. Slated for a 2019 premiere and created in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund and Silverback Films, the eight-part Our Planet will use new technology and storytelling techniques to expand on the 11-episode series that originally aired in 2006.

Silverback’s co-company directors, Keith Scholey and Alastair Fothergill, will produce the series. Fothergill, who executive produced Planet Earth, said in a press release that “Our Planet is going to raise the bar for natural history landmarks.”

WWF will provide Silverback and Netflix access to the areas it currently protects. The filmmakers plan to use cutting-edge 4K technology and “a range of specially produced storytelling for multi-media platforms.” Our Planet sounds like it’ll pick up where its predecessor left off, taking “viewers into never-before-filmed wilderness areas from the ice caps and deep ocean to deserts and remote forests, introducing them to the most precious species and places that must withstand the impact of humanity so generations to come can enjoy the bounties of the natural world.”

This article originally appeared on EW.com.

TIME viral

This Is the First Doughnut to Be Launched Into Space

No, that isn't the title of a Flaming Lips album. It's an actual thing

It was one small step for two brothers and a giant leap for mankind after the duo succeeded in sending what is believed to be the first doughnut into space this month.

According to Swedish news outlet the Local, the brothers Alexander and Benjamin Jönsson from Lysekil, Sweden, crossed the border into Norway last week, where they attached a doughnut and camera to a weather balloon and launched the contraption, sending it almost 20 miles above the earth’s surface.

“I’m really into space and photography, and I used to play around with weather balloons back in school,” Alexander told the Local. “Then we had the idea that we should send something really crazy up into space and thought ‘Hey, nobody has ever sent a doughnut up before.’”

Hours after being launched, the vessel and the doughnut came crashing down to earth and was later recovered in Lake Vättern, Sweden. The doughnut, albeit soggy, was still intact.

TIME space

See the Closest Color Photo of Pluto Ever Taken

This image of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, was taken by the Ralph color imager aboard NASA's New Horizons spacecraft on April 9.
NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute This image of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, was taken by the Ralph color imager aboard NASA's New Horizons spacecraft on April 9.

It is also the first color image snapped from an approaching spacecraft

Pluto, which sits approximately 4.67 billion miles from Earth, just got a tiny bit closer. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft this month captured the first color image of the dwarf planet from just 71 million miles away — the closest image ever recorded. It is accompanied by a image of Pluto’s largest moon Charon, which is similar in size to Texas.

NASA expects to complete early reconnaissance of Pluto and its system on July 14, when it will capture color images detailing “surface features as small as a few miles across.” The trove of data collected will no doubt enhance everyone’s insight into the minor planet.

“In an unprecedented flyby this July, our knowledge of what the Pluto systems is really like will expand exponentially and I have no doubt there will be exciting discoveries,” says NASA astronaut John Grunsfeld.

TIME space

SpaceX Rocket Launches for International Space Station

The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket lifts off from launch at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Apr. 14, 2015.
John Raoux—AP The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket lifts off from launch at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Apr. 14, 2015.

It is packed with 4,300 pounds of supplies

SpaceX launched a cargo ship to the International Space Station Tuesday at 4:10 p.m. from Florida’s Cape Canaveral.

The Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule were scheduled for liftoff Monday, but the launch was postponed because of weather and, as creator Elon Musk put it, the fact that the “moon was in the way.”

One of the deliveries—in what MarketWatch reports as SpaceX’s sixth resupply mission—is an espresso machine for Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.

The Dragon is packed with 4,300 pounds of goods.

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