Oldest zoo gorilla celebrates
"The first gorilla born in a zoo is turning 56 and celebrating her birthday with some special treats at her central Ohio home," Associated Press reports. "The Association of Zoos and Aquariums says the female western lowland gorilla named Colo is the oldest gorilla in any zoo. She was born at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in 1956. The zoo marked Colo's birthday Saturday with a cake specially prepared for her and other gifts, including her favourite food, tomatoes."
Couch potatoes get a job
"U.S. planemaker Boeing used an unusual substitute for passengers to test its inflight WiFi system – potatoes," BBC News reports. "Passenger seats on a decommissioned plane were loaded with huge sacks of the tubers for several days as signal strengths were checked. The company's researchers say that potatoes 'interact' with electronic signals in a similar way to humans. The technique also took advantage of the fact that spuds … never get bored."
Mealworms on the menu
"The wriggly beetle larvae known as mealworms could one day dominate supermarket shelves as a more sustainable alternative to chicken, beef, pork and milk, researchers in the Netherlands say," LiveScience reports. "Currently, livestock use about 70 per cent of all farmland. In addition, the demand for animal protein continues to rise globally, and is expected to grow by up to 80 per cent between 2012 and 2050. … The researchers found that growing mealworms released less greenhouse gases than producing cow milk, chicken, pork and beef. They also discovered that growing mealworms takes up only about 10 per cent of the land used for production of beef, 30 per cent of the land used for pork and 40 per cent of the land needed for chickens to generate similar amounts of protein."
Brass fights superbugs
"Brass door knobs, handles and handrails should be brought back into common use in public places to help combat superbugs, according to scientists," The Telegraph reports. "Researchers have discovered that copper and alloys made from the metal, including brass, can prevent [the spread of] antibiotic resistance in bacteria. … Plastic and stainless steel surfaces, which are now widely used in hospitals and public settings, allow bacteria to survive and spread when people touch them. Even if the bacteria die, DNA that gives them resistance to antibiotics can survive and be passed on to other bacteria on these surfaces. Copper and brass, however, can kill the bacteria and also destroy this DNA."
Keys to learning math
"A new study finds that intelligence is not the key factor in how a student gains math skills," Psych Central reports. "The new study, found in the journal Child Development, suggests motivation and study habits are the key factors in math achievement. The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Munich and the University of Bielefeld. … They investigated how students' motivation, study skills, and intelligence jointly predicted long-term growth in their math achievement over five years. Intelligence was strongly linked to students' math achievement, but only in the initial development of competence in the subject."
Lifeguards for dogs?
"Mastering the doggy paddle may not be good enough to keep Rufus afloat at the doggy daycare pool for long," says The Boulder Daily Camera. "Compulsory canine life jackets at pool-equipped daycare and boarding facilities across the state could become reality if rules being drafted by the Pet Animal Care Facilities Program, a division of the Colorado Department of Agriculture, come to pass. … The draft rules state that 'every dog must wear a personal flotation device while in or while having access to a pool area whenever the pool water is deeper than the height of the dog at its shoulder.' They also stipulate that the pool must have at least one lifeguard on duty to watch over the bedraggled barkers."
Thought du jour
"There is nothing wrong with making mistakes. Just don't respond with encores."