science stories

 
It may surprise you to learn pigeons can count much less understand abstract rules about numbers, but in fact, researchers have proved just that. This skill is something previously only showed in rhesus monkey testing from the 1990's. Pigeons, super smart? Apparently.
 
Residents of Birmingham, Alabama woke last Friday to skies that looked more like an ocean, with a series of huge "wave" shaped crests rolling slowly across the sky. Experts have now explained the phenomenon as perfect examples of "Kelvin-Helmholtz" waves, when a fast layer moves over a slower layer and drags the top along creating a curled shape.
 
Future X-Factor and American Idol stars can rest easy in the knowledge scientists have been working tirelessly to take out the guesswork in what makes a hit song. They've developed a software program that can predict chart positions with about 60% accuracy.
 
If you've ever been hospitalized and sent home to recover, you know it can be overwhelming. Now imagine it from a child's point of view. Children's Hospital Boston is now piloting a program to send telepresence robots home with post-op patients. The robots will allow for ongoing communication, observation and care to ease recovery from the familiar comfort of home.
 
Two pairs of self-propelled robots called Wave Gliders recently launched from San Francisco on a course that'll see them collectively covering almost 38,000 miles of the Pacific. If they reach their destinations in Japan and Australia, they could set the world record for the longest distance traveled by an unmanned vehicle.

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