Monkeys can subtract! Yes, it is true. Rhesus macaques placed in front of touch screens in a Duke University laboratory in the US were able to subtract dots. They did not count the dots individually, but used more instantaneous ability researchers call ‘number sense’. In fact, college students used as controls in the study had the same success rate as the macaques — each group choosing the correct answer in as little as a second, says psychologist Jessica Cantlon, who co-led the studies at Duke. Such similarities “suggest that these abilities are part of a primitive system for reasoning about numbers that has been passed down for millions of years of evolutionary time,” she adds. So, human beings are not so special, after all…
A team of archaeologists has discovered the earliest known evidence of horses being domesticated – ridden and milked – by human beings. The findings could also point towards the origins of the horse breeds we know today. The origins of horse domestication have been traced back to the Botai Culture of Kazakhstan circa 5,500 years ago. “The domestication of horses is known to have had immense social and economic significance, advancing communications, transport, food production and warfare. Our findings indicate that horses were being domesticated about 1,000 years earlier than previously thought. This is significant because it changes our understanding of how these early societies developed”, says lead author Dr. Alan Outram of the University of Exeter, UK.
Two black hole twins have recently been spotted dancing around each other. Yes, they are orbiting each other within the same galaxy. Only an estimated distance of less than a third of a light-year separates them. While such ‘binary systems’ have been postulated before, none has ever been shown to exist. Todd Boroson and Tod Lauer of the US National Optical Astronomy Observatory estimate that the two light sources coming from black holes are between 20 million and one billion times more massive than our Sun. “Previous work has identified potential examples of black holes on their way to merging, but the case presented by Boroson and Lauer is special because the pairing is tighter and the evidence much stronger,” says Jon Miller, an astronomer at the University of Michigan. This discovery is in line with the theory that as galaxies are getting closer to one another, their central black holes should orbit each other until merging together.
India’s 230 million rural people are undernourished – the highest for any country in the world.
It ranks 94th in the Global Hunger Index of 119 countries, says the report of the United Nations World Food Programme.
India has more than 27 per cent of the world’s undernourished population, while 43 per cent f children (under 5 years) in the country are underweight..
food demand is expected to cross 250 million tonnes by 2015.
“The fact that calorie deprivation is increasing during a period when the proportion of rural population below the poverty line is claimed to be declining rapidly, highlights the increasing disconnect between official poverty estimates and calorie deprivation”, says the report.