E.T. is like us? Uh-oh
"When considering the prospect of alien life, humankind should prepare for the worst, according to a new study. Either we're alone, or any aliens out there are acquisitive and resource-hungry, just like us," The Christian Science Monitor reports. "These two unpalatable options are pretty much the only possibilities, according to the new study. That's because evolution is predictable, and alien biospheres should thus produce intelligent creatures much like us, with technological prowess and an ever-increasing need for resources. But the fact that we haven't run across E.T. yet argues strongly for the latter possibility - that we are alone in the universe's howling void."
Chaser is s-m-a-r-t
"For some of us, it's hard to imagine our dogs understanding many more words than 'sit' and 'stay,' " Joanna Zelman blogs for The Huffington Post. "Many of us can't even teach our dogs those simple words. But a border collie named Chaser has recently demonstrated a comprehension of over 1,000 words, putting many of our pets to shame." Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., conducted a three-year experiment to test a dog's word comprehension limit. They introduced Chaser to 1,022 toys, and then asked her to fetch each one. Toys were grouped at random and placed in a separate room. Psychologist Alliston Reid reports that the dog completed more than 838 tests and always scored at least 90 per cent correct. Chaser's abilities place her at an intelligence level equivalent to that of a three-year-old human child.
Fade to … beige?
The greening of the United States isn't what it once was, as a new Harris Interactive poll indicates a decrease in "green" behaviour since 2009, United Press International reports. A comparison between the 2010 and 2009 surveys indicated adults in 2010 were less likely to incorporate eco-friendly behaviour in their daily lives. They were less likely to use less water, buy locally grown produce, buy locally manufactured products, buy organic products or compost food and organic waste.
The party is at 243
Superstitious home owners in Britain may balk at the idea of taking up residence at No. 13, but an analysis of home insurance found that someone living at No. 243 would be more than twice as likely to make a claim, The Daily Telegraph reports. About 45 per cent of people living at No. 243 have made a claim in the past four years, well ahead of No. 201 with 36 per cent and No. 1 with 34 per cent. By comparison, just 18 per cent of people living at No. 13 claimed on their insurance during the same period. Three-quarters of all claims relate to loss or accidental damage, suggesting to an executive at confused.com, which conducted the survey, that "it looks as if 243 is a popular place for a party."
No payment, no more dog
A Swiss village has found a drastic way to compel dog owners to pay their pet's annual tax: Cough up, or the dog gets it, Associated Press reports. "Reconvilier - population 2,245 humans, 280 dogs - plans to put Fido on notice if its owner doesn't pay the annual $50 tax. Local official Pierre-Alain Nemitz says the move is part of an effort to reclaim hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid fines. He says a law from 1904 allows the village to kill dogs if [their]owners do not pay the canine charge." He said the authorities have received death threats.
Antimatter in our skies
"A space telescope has accidentally spotted thunderstorms on Earth producing beams of antimatter," BBC News reports. "Such storms have long been known to give rise to fleeting sparks of light called terrestrial gamma-ray flashes. But results from the Fermi telescope show they also give out streams of electrons and their antimatter counterparts, positrons. The surprise result was presented by researchers at the American Astronomical Society meeting."
Is that you, Dad?!
"A fetus might learn to see before it is born," New Scientist magazine reports. "So much light penetrates a pregnant woman's tummy that her fetus may develop vision in the final two months of pregnancy." Marco Del Giudice at the University of Turin in Italy wondered if there was enough light present for a fetus to see. He measured the amount of light that could penetrate through a typical woman's uterus and found that in a naked woman, about 0.1 to 1 per cent of ambient light would get in. In bright sunlight, a fetus could receive light equivalent to that found in a typically lit house.
Thought du jour
"When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it." - Henry Ford (1863-1947), U.S. industrialist