Karen Hardison

Freelance copy editor and science and environment journalist, with a special interest in environmental science, behavioral science and space science. Have copy edited for eNotes and autobiographical authors and written for Blasting News, eNotes, Digital Journal, Yahoo Voices and Associated Content.

Why are yawns contagious, and how does contagion relate to autism and epilepsy?

New research from the #University Of Nottingham, U.K., sheds light on the brain's "neural basis" for why yawns are contagious while uncovering the basis for "potential non-drug, personalized treatments" of conditions linked to cortical excitability and physiological inhibition, like epilepsy, Tourette syndrome, dementia and autism. Epilepsy, Tourette syndrome, dementia and autism are among a "wide range of clinical conditions" that are linked to "increased cortical excitability and/or decreased

Giant frogs ate dinosaurs 68 million years ago in Madagascar, says new research

Extinct giant frogs lived in Madagascar 68 million years ago. With heads measuring about 6 inches across (154 millimeters), the jaws of these Beelzebufo ampinga giant frogs, sometimes called "devil frogs," exerted a bite force up to 25 percent greater than living frogs of subtropical and tropical South America. These living frogs measure a jaw force of 500 Newtons (N). Giant #Frogs Of Madagascar, weighing 10 pounds and long extinct, had a jaw power of 2,200 Newtons. The large horned frogs found

Former NASA climate chief warns of 'ungovernable' chaos from rising sea levels

Former director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), #James Hansen, warns that #Rising Sea Levels are the most dangerous component of the climate change jigsaw because higher sea levels will bring about population displacement, mass migrations inland or across seas, global collapse of economies, and social upheaval such that "the planet could become practically ungovernable," as reported by Dom Galeon in Futurism. More dangerous than rising temperatures, rising seas threaten th

Pluto's regal mountains and frosty plains shown in soaring NASA movies

#NASA's New Flyover Movies of the Pluto system, created from #New Horizons Spacecraft data and digital elevation models, give the sky-watching world close-up views of the spectacular features discovered on #Pluto and Charon. Since the first New Horizons images came back in 2015 showing close-up pictures of the Pluto system — the dwarf planet Pluto and its moons, the largest of which is Charon — sky watchers have been eager for more. NASA's New Horizons mission scientists' two flyover movies rev

Don't look at faces, listen to voices to understand emotions

Listening to voices has been shown to be more effective than looking at facial expressions for understanding others' emotional states. Past psychological studies of emotional recognition focused on accurately reading emotions displayed in facial expressions. A new Yale University study shows that listening to emotions conveyed by the voice of a speaker leads to more accurate understanding of the others' true #Emotional State. These results are surprising and groundbreaking. Michael Kraus of Yal

Beautiful bird plumage patterns found to be created by pigment cells and foods

Studies of beautiful bird #plumage patterns have in the past focused on structural causes of feather coloration attributable to what birds eat. A flamingo eats algae and shrimp and turns pink or orange. A new study shows that complex plumage patterns are created because of #melanin pigment controlled by specialized cells called melanocytes. According to a study by Dr. Ismael Galván and a team of researchers at Spanish National Research Council of Madrid, Spain, in the Department of Evolutionary

Electrons in space near Earth whistle, discovers NASA's Van Allen Probes

"Space is not empty, nor is it silent," announces NASA's Van Allen Probes mission. During mission observations of the near-Earth space environment, scientists recorded three types of eerie music created by interactions between charged electron particles and electric and magnetic field lines. In the complicated map of zones that constitute the near-Earth space environment, two whistles come from close to Earth in the plasmasphere and one from beyond the plasmasphere, further away from Earth. NAS

Mini glow-in-the-dark shark in Hawaii's deep Pacific waters discovered and named

In the deep Pacific Ocean, scientists discovered an unusual shark 17 years ago. It was a new mini-shark. Not even a foot long, the adult shark weighed less than 2 pounds. It had a strange, large bulging snout, or "sniffer," as Stephen M. Kajiura, Ph.D., calls it. Kajiura was a graduate student as part of the team that discovered the new shark. According to the FAU News Desk, to the surprise of the discovery team, their paper, when sent to a journal for consideration for publication, generated a

Science Denial: Is it a psychological-social disease?

Professor #Daniel Sarewitz has used The Guardian #Science Blog Network to discuss the problem of defining "#Science Denial" as a pathological condition in the cognitive sciences in an article called "Stop treating science denial like a disease." Sarewitz points out that to have scientists describe the sociological and psychological behavior of "science denial" in terms of cognitive limits of intellectual development, is to accept that science can defend itself from criticism by using research t

Ancient India first used symbol 'zero' 5 centuries earlier than previously known

The ancient #Indian Bakhshali manuscript about mathematics contains the oldest recorded use of the #dot symbol for zero, according to new radiocarbon dating of the manuscript. Carbon dating by the University of Oxford and Bodleian Libraries places the Bakhshali manuscript in the 3rd or 4th centuries CE, specifically between 224-383 Common Era (CE). The previous dating placed the manuscript in the 9th century CE. This revised dating is an important finding for the history of mathematics because t

Seeing faces in early development key to forming facial recognition

#Facial Recognition has long been thought to be an innate human and primate ability. It has been believed that from birth humans and primate babies prefer gazing at faces because they innately recognize faces. A new study from #Harvard Medical School casts this belief in a different light. Researchers found that the absence of exposure to faces in the early days of development causes an absence of neuron network development in the brain area "responsible for recognizing faces." Two neuro-develo

Barnier demands Brexit 'divorce' payment and justice for UK's EU citizens

#Michel Barnier, the European Union's chief #Brexit negotiator, has pinpointed two pressing issues he expects United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister #Theresa May to settle before Brexit can be negotiated. Barnier specifies the urgent need for a monetary proposal to pay for the "divorce" of Great Britain from the European Union (EU). He also specifies the equally urgent need for protections for European Union citizens living in Britain. He demands that these citizens should be safeguarded by the Euro

Women's brains are more active than men's brains

Women's brain activity is described by a study, conducted at the Amen Clinics, Inc., in Newport Beach, Calif., as being "significantly more active in many more areas" than #Men's brains. Women's brain activity — activity is shown as increased blood flow — registered in two areas, while men's brain activity registered in one area. #Women's brains have more blood flow in more areas than men's brains while both resting and performing cognitive tasks. Brain activity is measured by "functional neuro

Google fires engineer James Damore over 'liberal' 'echo chamber' memo

#James Damore, now a former #Google engineer, has been fired for circulating an extensive memo speaking out against Google's policies and practices regarding dissent and #Diversity. As Bloomberg reported, Google's response to Damore's memo was to fire him, citing violations of corporate policies, their Code of Conduct, and anti-discrimination laws. As reported by Bloomberg, Damore is a software engineer with a Harvard M.A. in Systems Biology, which uses quantitative methods applied to biological