December 18, 2013

Your dog can likely recognize an image of you.     Photo: chippix / Shutterstock.com

Study: Dogs Recognize Familiar Faces in Images

Respond to photos of owners, other family pets

Get ready for doggy Skype. A new study found that man’s best friend might have facial recognition skills similar to those of humans.

Researchers used to believe only people and possibly primates could recognize familiar faces, but a new article published in Animal Cognition suggests that dogs too can tell the difference between photos of their owners and of strangers.

Granted, dogs are still more interested in other canines than they are in humans, regardless of familiarity.

For the study, a team from the University of Helsinki tracked dogs’ eye movements as they watched images of familiar humans and dogs on a computer screen. The pups were also shown photos of strangers. The result? Dogs fixed their gaze more often on familiar faces, but they looked at images of dogs longer than images of humans­.

So yes, your dog loves you, but maybe not as much as his canine companion. And next time you’re away from home, maybe a video chat with your pup isn’t such a bad idea.

0 Comments

Michael Rogers competes in the 2012 Olympic men's time trial.     Photo: Photo: Paul Wilkinson/Flickr

World Champ Rogers Tests Positive for Doping

Blames tainted food

Three-time road cycling world champion Michael Rogers was provisionally suspended after testing positive for clenbuterol in a test at the Japan Cup last fall, the International Cycling Union (UCI) reported yesterday.

The cyclist told his team, Saxo-Tinkoff, that he fears the positive test was the result of a contaminated food source and that he did not knowingly take the banned substance, which builds muscle and burns fat.

“The provisional suspension of Mr. Michael Rogers remains in force until a hearing panel convened by his national federation determines whether he has committed an anti-doping rule violation under Article 21 of the UCI Anti-Doping Rules,” the UCI said in a statement.

Although his A sample came in positive, Rogers still has the right to request testing of his B sample.

Alberto Contador, one of Rogers’ current teammates, also tested positive for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France. He too blamed tainted meat, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport stripped him of results, including his Tour victory.

Rogers left Team Sky last year after being implicated in the U.S. Anti Doping Agency report that ruined Lance Armstrong. Rogers admitted to working with banned doping doctor Michele Ferrari, but denied using any performance-enhancing drugs.     

According to a “secret” UCI doping suspicions list published in 2011, Rogers was one of 40 riders who warranted extra attention from anti-doping officials. 

0 Comments

    Photo: Getty Images

Blind Man and Dog Escape Injury on Train Tracks

Onlookers call it a miracle

At 9:30 a.m. at the 125th Street station in Harlem, a blind man and his 10-year-old labrador service dog slipped and fell onto the subway tracks and narrowly escaped injury.

According to eyewitnesses, the blind man who was identified by CNN affiliate NY1 as Cecil Williams slipped and fell off of the platform with his dog Orlando just as a northbound "A" train quickly approached the station where he lay with his companion.

An MTA employee instructed Williams to remain calm and to lie completely still between the two tracks as the train barreled toward them, CNN reports. Easier said than done.

The conductor of the arriving train was notified of the fallen man and applied the brakes, but the train came to a complete halt only after one and a half train cars went over Williams and Orlando. Other than disoriented, the man and his dog left the scene sans injury.

Alas, the story does not have a happy ending. Because Orlando is nearing retirement, and Williams' insurance will not cover a non-working dog, Orlando must go.

"If he had the money," Williams told Fox News, "I would definitely keep him."

0 Comments

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Daniel D. Snyder

Reddit Bans Climate Skeptics

Not conducive to constructive discussion

In a surprising move, Reddit announced Monday that it would be banning climate-change skeptics on its science forum. Reddit content editor Nathan Allen wrote a post on Grist explaining his decision.

The self-described PhD chemist said that while Reddit remains "passionately dedicated to free speech," the climate-change skeptics on the site's /r/science forum were refusing to engage in meaningful discussion. “After some time interacting with the regular denier posters, it became clear that they could not or would not improve their demeanor,” Allen says. "As a scientist myself, it became clear to me that the contrarians were not capable of providing the science to support their ‘skepticism’ on climate change.”

About half a dozen content editors will now moderate the forum's 4 million subscribers. “As moderators responsible for what millions of people see, we felt that to allow a handful of commenters to so purposefully mislead our audience was simply immoral,” Allen adds.

0 Comments

Shepherds Flat Wind Farm, Oregon, USA, seen from the Empire Builder train route.     Photo: Steve Wilson/Wikimedia

U.S. to Allow Bald Eagle Deaths

Rule absolves wind energy from legal prosecution

Between 1997 and 2012, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service researchers counted 86 bald and golden eagle deaths at wind farms nationwide, and this month the Obama Administration officially says that's OK.

A new federal rule will provide legal protection for wind energy companies when bald and golden eagles are inadvertently killed by wind turbines, if companies record the deaths and take measures to avoid killing protected birds. The new permits, which go into effect on January8, last for 30 years, with reviews every five years.

Although neither eagle species is on The Endangered Species List—bald eagles were delisted in 2007—it is illegal to kill or hunt either eagle without a proper permit.

Federal wildlife officials defend the rule. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said in a statement: "The changes in this permitting program will help the renewable energy industry and others develop projects that can operate in the longer term, while ensuring bald and golden eagles continue to thrive for future generations."

However, conservation groups see the rule as the federal government robbing Peter to pay Paulsnubbing environmental conservation to boost renewable energy.

"A 30-year permits is like a blank check," David Yarnold, president and chief executive of the National Audubon Society, told The New York Times. "It basically says you can go operate these wind turbines and kill as many eagles as happen to die."

Federal electricity use is expected to draw seven percent from renewable sources in 2013. On December 5, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the federal government to source 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources such as solar power and wind by 2020.

0 Comments

    Photo: Meyes/Thinkstock

Today in Alligator News

A gator maître d' and trading for beer

Alligators made a strong appearance in news headlines today. A four-footer named Wally has been approved to greet guests at a Michigan restaurant, and a Florida man attempted to trade another gator for a 12-pack of beer.

On December 10, Fernando Aguilera trapped and attempted to trade a small alligator for a 12-pack of beer at a local convenience store, reports CNN. Local officials, who were shocked at Aguilera’s attempted barter, promptly cited him saying it was an “extremely unusual situation, and a sad situation for the alligator." Aguilera may face up to six months in jail and a $500 fine. The alligator was returned to the wild unharmed.

Farther north, the City Council of Port Huron, Michigan has approved the use of the alligator Wally to greet guests at the new restaurant Cajun Gator. The issue passed with a 4-2 vote, according to reports from The Detroit News. Councilwoman Anita Ashford, who voted against the use of Wally, said she wasn’t “comfortable with the idea of a live alligator in an eatery.”

0 Comments

Comments