Dolphins in a rumble?
"When two dolphin species come together," BBC News reports, "they attempt to find a common language, preliminary research suggests. Bottlenose and Guyana dolphins, two distantly related species, often come together to socialize in waters off the coast of Costa Rica. Both species make unique sounds, but when they gather, they change the way they communicate, and begin using an intermediate language. That raises the possibility the two species are communicating in some way. … It is not yet clear exactly what is taking place between the two dolphin species. … But often, the two species swim together in one group. These interactions are usually antagonistic, as the larger bottlenose dolphins harass the smaller Guyana dolphins." It's unclear whether both species are changing the way they communicate or one species is attempting to call more like the other.
Meet the aliens
"[S]ientists believe they could be close to discovering alien life forms much closer to home - on the outer fringes of Earth's atmosphere," The Daily Telegraph reports. "British scientists, working with the European Space Agency, will this week launch a balloon carrying instruments to search the stratosphere for bacteria and other micro-organisms. They believe there could be species capable of surviving in the high levels of radiation, extreme cold and near-vacuum found on the edge of space. The organisms could be entirely new to science and may even have been brought here from outer space by hitching a ride on asteroids or comets."
Mind if I interrupt?
Research suggests that, if you are interrupted just as you are finishing a task, your productivity on the next task will take a hit, The Boston Globe reports. In several experiments, people were interrupted early in a task, late in a task or after its completion. "People who had been interrupted late in the previous task were significantly more impaired on the subsequent task. The [study]authors attribute this to the extra self-control - and associated mental depletion - required to break away from a task just as you're about to finish it."
"Fabrics with sensors could give musicians a simple way to carry their instruments with them: in their clothes," The Futurist reports. "An outfit that produces sounds when the user touches it has been created by Swedish School of Textiles fashion student Jeannine Han and technician Dan Riley. The prototype garments yield a harp-like sound. … Han and Riley plan to form a band that will wear the outfits and 'play themselves.'"
Word watch: Droppler Effect
The prolonged, uneasy feeling a parent gets when a toddler walks across the kitchen clutching a glass of milk, according to The KidDictionary, Volume 2.
Flushing money: 19 million
China's housing boom has unleashed a bull market in cutting-edge plumbing. Nearly 19 million toilets are sold each year in the country, roughly twice the number sold in the United States.
Los Angeles Times
Unemployed millionaires: 3,000
In 2008, according to U.S. tax data, almost 3,000 millionaires received unemployment benefits.
Judge charged: 58
A district judge from Intercourse, Pa., hid condoms inside acorns and handed them out to unsuspecting women in the state capitol complex. The 58-year-old has been charged with disorderly conduct.
It's a wonderful life: 5
A judge in Montana has sentenced a man who assaulted a woman to spend Christmases in jail for the next five years. The judge said it was meant to keep the man out of trouble.
Thought du jour
"What we think, or what we know or what we believe in is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do."
- John Ruskin (1819-1900), British art critic and writer