TIME animals

This Is Why Dogs Are Sloppier Drinkers Than Cats

New research analyzes the physics behind their tongue movements

New research points to the scientific reason why dogs seem to be messier drinkers than cats.

While cats gently dip their tongues into the water’s surface, dogs thrust their tongues into water at an acceleration five times gravity, according to a presentation called “How Dogs Drink Water” at the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics Meeting this week.

To see it for yourself, here’s a slow-motion video of a cat drinking:

Compare that to a slow-motion video of a dog drinking:

While the researchers previously studied how cats drink, their latest presentation focused on dogs, using an underwater camera to map the surface area of their tongues that made contact while lapping up the liquid. In addition to finding that heavier dogs use more of their tongues to drink, they also discovered that dogs must open their mouths to capture the water they lift, further contributing to the splashes.

While it seems the research is just for fun, the scientists said their pet-centric work could in turn lead to deeper understandings of fluid dynamics.

[Discovery News]

TIME animals

Why Vultures Don’t Get Sick From Eating Rotten Meat

New study takes a closer look at how vultures can consume meat that other animals cannot

The rotten flesh of a vulture’s diet would sicken, if not kill, most animals of its size — so how do vultures manage to keep down meals of decaying meat?

Vultures have a digestive system that has evolved to destroy dangerous bacteria while tolerating other harmful toxins, according to a new study published Tuesday in Nature. The research paints a clearer picture of how vultures’ strong stomach acid permits a diet of rotten carcasses, a fact that scientists have known for years.

Researchers specifically focused their study on the DNA of bacteria found in the vulture’s stomach, discovering that of the hundreds of bacteria present on the beak, only two dominated their guts, a “remarkably conserved low diversity of gut microbial flora,” the study said. Since the vultures’ gastrointestinal tracts are “extremely selective” in which bacteria they destroy, scientists believe their findings suggest that vultures evolved alongside their food sources.

“On one hand, vultures have developed an extremely tough digestive system, which simply acts to destroy the majority of the dangerous bacteria they ingest,” said University of Copenhagen microbiologist Michael Roggenbuck, one of the study’s authors, in a statement. “On the other hand, vultures also appear to have developed a tolerance toward some of the deadly bacteria — species that would kill other animals actively seem to flourish in the vulture lower intestine.”

TIME space

The First 3-D Printer in Space Prints Its First Object

3-D Printer Space First Object
International Space Station Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore holds up the first object made in space with 3-D printing. Wilmore installed the printer on Nov. 17, 2014, and helped crews on the ground with the first print on Nov. 25, 2014. NASA

The printer's goal is to make spare parts and tools for the International Space Station

The first 3-D printer in space has borne its first object, NASA said Tuesday, and it’s a bit self-fulfilling.

The object, a replacement faceplate for the printer’s casing that holds its internal wiring in place, is one of about 20 objects that will be printed aboard International Space Station (ISS) over the coming weeks, the space agency said. The objects will then be sent down to Earth for analysis, the final step in testing the 3-D printer before establishing a permanent 3-D printing facility aboard the space station.

“This is the first time we’ve ever used a 3-D printer in space, and we are learning, even from these initial operations,” said Niki Werkheiser, project manager for the ISS’s 3-D printer. Creating the faceplate demonstrated how the printer is able to make replacement parts for itself, the agency added. “As we print more parts we’ll be able to learn whether some of the effects we are seeing are caused by microgravity or just part of the normal fine-tuning process for printing.”

Before its launch in June to the ISS, the 3-D printer had successfully completed a series of tests evaluating its ability to withstand take-off forces and to function properly in zero gravity. The goal is to create spare parts and tools to make the ISS less dependent on expensive resupply ships, in addition to improving crew safety.

TIME space

Watch Christopher Nolan and Kip Thorne Discuss the Physics of Interstellar

Thorne literally wrote the book on (much of) the movie's cosmology

There’s no arguing about the blockbuster status of Interstellar, director Chris Nolan’s latest box office phenomenon. But plenty of people are debating the science component of that sci-fi tale—which is how it always is when a movie based in something as non-negotiable as physics has to take just enough liberties to make the fiction part of the story fly.

Nolan was determined to keep his narrative scientifically honest, which is why he signed on as technical adviser celebrated Caltech physicist Kip Thorne—who literally wrote the book on (much of) the movie’s cosmology. TIME’s Jeffrey Kluger sat down with Nolan and Thorne to talk about human curiosity, the art of sci-fi filmmaking and the one time the two of them locked horns over a plot point.

TIME

On Evolution Day, Remember That Darwin Knew He’d Meet Resistance

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A statue of Darwin in the Natural History Museum, London Philippe Lissac—Godong / Getty Images

Plus, TIME's original coverage of the anti-evolution arguments of the 1925 Scopes trial

Correction appended, Nov. 24, 2014, 5:49 p.m.

Time was, “Darwin” was just a guy’s name. It was not a noun (Darwinism) or an adjective (Darwinian). And it certainly wasn’t a flash point for debate between folks who prefer a Scriptural view of the history of life and those who take a more scientific approach. That started to change 155 years ago today, on Nov. 24, 1859, when Charles Darwin’s seminal work—On the Origin of Species—was published.

Darwin knew that by supporting an empirical theory of evolution as opposed to the Biblical account of Creation he was asking for trouble. Two weeks before the book’s publication, he sent letters to 11 prominent scientists of his day, asking for their support—or at least their forbearance—and acknowledging that for some of them, that would not be easy. To the celebrated French botanist Alphonse de Candolle he wrote:

Lord, how savage you will be, if you read it, and how you will long to crucify me alive! I fear it will produce no other effect on you; but if it should stagger you in ever so slight a degree, in this case, I am fully convinced that you will become, year after year, less fixed in your belief in the immutability of species.

And to American Asa Gray, another botanist, he conceded:

Let me add I fully admit that there are very many difficulties not satisfactorily explained by my theory of descent with modification, but I cannot possibly believe that a false theory would explain so many classes of facts as I think it certainly does explain.

But the whirlwind came anyway. Speaking of Darwin in 1860, the Bishop of Oxford asked: “Was it through his grandfather or his grandmother that he claimed his descent from a monkey?” The battle raged in the U.S. in the summer of 1925, with the trial of John Scopes, a substitute school teacher charged with violating a Tennessee statute forbidding the teaching of evolution in schools.

But Darwin and his theory of evolution endured, so much so that Nov. 24 is now recognized as Evolution Day. As if serendipity and circumstance were conspiring to validate that decision, it was on another Nov. 24, in 1974, that the fossilized remains of Lucy, the australopithecus who did so much to fill in a major gap in human evolution, were found in Ethiopia.

In honor of Lucy and Evolution Day and Darwin himself, check out TIME’s coverage of the florid anti-evolution closing argument of prosecuting attorney and three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan during the Scopes trial, as quoted in the magazine’s Aug. 10, 1925 issue:

“Darwin suggested two laws, sexual selection and natural selection. Sexual selection has been laughed out of the class room, and natural selection is being abandoned, and no new explanation is satisfactory even to scientists. Some of the more rash advocates of Evolution are wont to say that Evolution is as firmly established as the law of gravitation or the Copernician theory.

“The absurdity of such a claim is apparent when we remember that any one can prove the law of gravitation by throwing a weight into the air and that any one can prove the roundness of the earth by going around it, while no one can prove Evolution to be true in any way whatever.”

Bryan died mere days after the trial ended but, as the historical record shows, his strenuous efforts paid off—sort of. Scopes was duly convicted. His sentence for teaching what most of the world now accepts as science: $100.

Read the full text of that story, free of charge, here in the TIME archives, or in its original format, in the TIME Vault: Dixit

Correction: The original version of this article misstated the date of Darwin Day. Darwin Day is typically celebrated on February 12.

TIME Know Right Now

Know Right Now: Elon Musk Debuts New Rocket on Twitter

He revealed the improved Falcon 9R

The billionaire CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk, decided to show off his new rockets Saturday. He revealed SpaceX’s newly improved rocket, the Falcon 9R, which now has four adjustable wings. The 9R’s “X Wings” are designed to deploy after takeoff and will work with rocket thrusters for navigation, which Musk showed in a video he shared on Twitter.

Musk also revealed that SpaceX is creating rocket landing pads at sea, which will be used as refueling stations for rockets before launching back into space.

TIME space

This App Lets You Say Hello to an Astronaut in Space

You can communicate with Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti from down on Earth

A new app called Friends in Space allows you to say “hello” to Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti while she’s stationed in the International Space Station (ISS).

If you’re lucky, she might say hello back. That is, if she’s orbiting your region of earth.

The online app was created by an Italian design studio called Accurat in collaboration with Cristoforetti, and let’s you follow her travels and day-to-day work while she’s in space. When she’s not orbiting nearby, users can communicate with other people who are also following her mission.

Cristoforetti is a European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut who used to be a fighter pilot in the Italian Air Force. She shares a lot of her work on social media.

[Wired]

TIME animals

Deep Water Shrimp Offer Evidence of Life on Inhospitable Planets

The tiny shrimp survive without sunlight and crawl within an inch of boiling hot waters

NASA scientists say that deep water shrimp, thriving in scorching hot water devoid of sunlight, could offer clues to how alien lifeforms might survive on a distant planet.

The tiny shrimp cluster around thermal vents, which are submerged 7,500 feet below the ocean’s surface and spew scorching hot water at temperatures reaching 750 degrees Fahrenheit. The blind shrimp can move within an inch of the hot water by using thermal receptors in the backs of their heads, and feed on hydrogen sulfide, a chemical that is normally toxic to organisms, but can be converted into energy with the help of specialized bacteria in the shrimp’s mouth and gills.

“It’s a remarkable symbiotic system,” says Max Coleman, senior research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “You go along the ocean bottom and there’s nothing, effectively, and then suddenly we get these hydrothermal vents and a massive ecosystem. It’s just literally teeming with life.”

Scientists believe the shrimp offer proof of how an organism might survive on an inhospitable planet, such as Europa, an icy moon orbiting Jupiter. Astronomers have found evidence of an ocean beneath the planet’s surface. With the right amount of thermal energy, researchers say, it too may be teeming with life.

TIME Environment

Vodka Leftovers Can Help Make Driving Safer by Removing Highway Snow

City Of Chicago Prepares For Another Winter Storm
Streets and Sanitation workers in Chicago prepare to load trucks with road salt as the city braces for another winter storm on Feb. 4, 2014 Scott Olson—Getty Images

Scientists are looking to curb the use of road salt, which damages roads, vehicles and the environment

Cold-climate researchers at Washington State University (WSU) are using barley residue from vodka distilleries to develop environment-friendly deicers to combat highway snow.

Every winter season, the U.S. government spends $2.3 billion to remove highway snow and ice, but also another $5 billion to mitigate additional costs the process accrues. Most of the hundreds of tons of salt that is applied to American roads doesn’t degrade, and actually causes damage to the surface, vehicles and the environment.

“In 2013, the [Environmental Protection Agency] reported alarming levels of sodium and chloride in groundwater along the East Coast,” says Xianming Shi, associate professor in civil and environmental engineering in a press release from WSU. As a nation, “we are kind of salt addicted, like with petroleum, as it’s been so cheap and convenient for the last 50 years.”

Shi’s work is part of a U.S. Department of Transportation–funded collaboration between WSU, the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Montana State University.

Apart from developing deicers, the team is working on the technology of smart snowplows, which are equipped with sensors that collect data to help operators regulate the amount of salt they apply. They are also working on software and new types of concrete.

“Our ultimate goal is to apply the best amount of salt, sand or deicers at the right location at the right time,” Shi said.

Any advances would be welcome as road salt is in short supply in northern states, and prices have ballooned by 10% to 30% since last year.

Read next: Road Salt Prices Skyrocket After Last Winter’s Snowstorms

TIME animals

Rare Deep-Sea Angler Fish Caught on Film

Meet the Black Seadevil

Scientists caught a rare glimpse of a elusive anglerfish in the ocean depths during a recent exploration.

The 9-centimeter long Black Seadevil, or Melanocetus, was caught on video in November by researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California, USA Today reports.

Bruce Robison, a senior scientist at the institute, believes the footage is the first time a living fish was filmed at its depth of 600 meters. Researchers were exploring the Monterey Canyon, a part of the Pacific Ocean that’s as large as the Grand Canyon.

“These are ambush predators,” Robison said of the fish, which has sharp teeth on the outside of its large jaw and uses a flashlight-like body part to attract prey.

[USA Today]

Read next: These Amazing Chemical Reactions Will Show You the True Beauty of Science

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