On the Record

“We need to turn scientists back into the rock stars they are.”

Morgan Spurlock is making a movie of The Republican War on Science.

Zoo news

Hope and prey

In case you were wondering, male praying mantises do know they could be eaten after sex, and they don't like the idea. Biologists at New York State University have found that males can assess how hungry females are: if the risk seems high, males approach more cautiously and mount from a greater distance. How exactly they manage the latter isn't clear.


Pulling the wool...

The trial of disgraced stemcell scientist Woo Suk Hwang continues to amaze. He is accused of accepting 2 billion won (US$2.1 million) in private donations, but Hwang insists none of it went to him personally. He told the court last week that part of the money was used in an attempt to clone mammoths.

Number crunch

How fast does the eye transmit information to the brain?

6 bits of information, at least, are sent every second by each cell in a guinea pig's optic nerve.

875,000 bits are calculated to be sent each second by the whole nerve (105 cells).

8,750,000 bits would thus be sent every second by a human optic nerve... about the same as a standard Ethernet connection.


Russian rockets

A Dnepr rocket, based on the Soviet RS-20 missile, has crashed carrying 18 satellites, including 14 'microsats' made by students. NATO dubbed the original missile Satan; it's now being called worse names in classrooms around the world.

Sources: Time, Am. Nat., Curr. Biol.