The Week In Science: Bar Body Language, Robot War Buddies And Unlucky Armadilloes

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This week, we chatted with newly Earthbound astronaut Chris Cassidy, turned up our noses at the nasty molecule that taints wine by turning off your sense of smell, and explored a totally new kind of brain activity found beyond what was thought to have been the final frontier of cerebral impulses. But there’s still so much more that happened in the world of science this week, so here’s a roundup of what we missed:

Scientists mapped the tiger genome for the first time, and they found a natural-born killer. The tiger shares its more than 1,300 genes linked to strong muscle fibers and protein digestion with many of its fellow felines -- including your little Fluffykins. [National Geographic]

U.S. soldiers working in bomb disposal develop emotional attachments to their robots, according to a new study. Military personnel often name their robots and view the robots as extensions of themselves or akin to pets. Some soldiers even held funerals for robots that were disabled or destroyed in the line of duty. The scientist leading the study speculates that if military robots become less and less robotic -- resembling dogs or humans, perhaps --there may be some danger that a soldier could form even stronger attachments, and be more disturbed if the machine is harmed. [CNET]

Climate researchers are struggling with how best to characterize some of the latest data on global warming, which shows that the rate of climate change is not quite as drastic as initially predicted. Scientists still firmly believe human activity is linked to climate change, but leaked documents obtained by the Associated Press from an international meeting show that several national governments are sparring over how to spin these latest findings. [AP]

Science has cracked the code to a vital enterprise: getting the attention of the bartender at the pub. A study of body language shows that the most successful tactic is to stand squarely up against the bar and look directly at the bartender. Looking at a menu or gesturing wasn’t as helpful, but if a person gestures with money, for some reason that seems to work slightly better. [Telegraph]

The rocket that sent NASA’s LADEE mission toward the moon grabbed more than the usual attention recently when a photograph caught an unlucky frog sent airborne by the launch. Now another animal seems to have met its demise near the launchpad. An observer at the liftoff of an Atlas V rocket carrying a U.S. Air Force satellite caught video of a spooked armadillo (though some say it might be a hog) driven out of its hiding place by the noise of the engines. Unfortunately, the stressed animal ran right into the exhaust cloud from the rocket. Neither the frog’s nor the armadillo’s final fates can be confirmed. [Universe Today]

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