How pigeons find home
"Pigeons can find their way home from hundreds of miles - an ability that fascinates scientists and has led to their use in carrying messages and even smuggling drugs," BBC News says. "Now, researchers in Italy say they have shown how much the birds rely on one of their nostrils to 'sniff' their way around. The team report in the Journal of Experimental Biology that pigeons with a blocked right nostril were unable to create the 'map of smells' that guides them on their journey. … Previous attempts to unpick [the birds']remarkable navigational skill, by this team as well as other researchers, revealed that as the birds sit in their lofts they learn the directions from which odours originate. The birds appear to construct a mental map of these odours, a map that is sufficiently accurate to guide them in the direction of home until they spot local landmarks."
Tweets of good cheer?
"It may sound like a bird-brained idea but the mayor of a Mojave Desert city wants to brighten the streets by broadcasting recorded bird songs," Associated Press reports. "Lancaster [Calif.]Mayor R. Rex Parris proposed the idea during his State of the City talk [last week] The Antelope Valley Press says Parris wants to play the bird chatter from loudspeakers on Lancaster Boulevard. The mayor says there's science to show that listening to birdsong makes people happier."
Hitler's last aide
Hitler's last bodyguard, now 93, has given up on answering fan mail, Reuters reports. Rochus Misch, who used to send fans autographed copies of wartime photos of himself in SS uniform, says he can no longer respond to the flood of fan mail from around the world because of his age.
Beam when you smile
"They come in gold, super-white, gem-encrusted, and you can even get them tattooed. But if none of that has tempted you to enter the world of teeth fashion, step forward to enjoy the latest fad - molars that glow," The Guardian reports. "Since being featured in an ad for a clothes shop, LED smiles have become the must-have accessory in Japan - among the more adventurous or bicuspid-challenged, at least. Designers Motoi Ishibashi and Daito Manabe have even created a video, Party in Your Mouth, with a group of Japanese schoolgirls sporting the latest look."
How to be on time
Some people make a habit of running late, Realsimple.com says. "Why you do it: The nice reason? You're a pleaser and an overdoer, packing too much in. Not so nice? Deep down, you may think your time is more important than the time of those waiting. Either way, you lack some essential time-management skills. How to stop: When someone asks you to do something, don't accept right away. Say you'll get back to him, then decide whether you have the time. Also, figure out which tasks always seem to make you late. Maybe it's drying your hair in the morning: Time yourself to see how long it takes, then allot enough time in your routine. Tricks: Set your watch five minutes fast and build in time for unexpected delays. And always call ahead if you're running late. Not only is it gracious but the shame of making repeated calls might also be the incentive you need to be punctual."
Storing data in germs
"Researchers at Hong Kong's Chinese University have found what might be the safest way to store data: not in a safe, not in the cloud, but in bacteria," Huffingtonpost.com reports. "Biostorage, the term for storing and encrypting information in organisms, has only existed for close to a decade, but scientists say the method could soon allow for text, images, music or even video to be 'recorded' in E. coli, according to Discovery. By encoding data in bacterial DNA, the information has a virtually limitless lifespan. As each bacteria reproduces, the data could be copied thousands of times. By mapping E. coli's DNA, that data can be easily found and isolated. Perhaps more importantly, however, bacteria isn't susceptible to intrusion. 'Bacteria can't be hacked,' Allen Yu, a student instructor, told Discovery."
Super Bowl parking
"If you're lucky enough to have a ticket to Super Bowl XLV … then the next step is to find parking near Cowboys Stadium," ESPNDallas.com says. "And that might be more expensive than the ticket. According to ParkWhiz.com, there is a spot available a tenth of a mile from Cowboys Stadium going for $990 [U.S.] … To be fair, you would have access to a restroom, on-site security and the ability to tailgate."
Culture in Utah
"The Utah House passed a measure to make the Browning M1911 semiautomatic the state gun in honour of Utahn John Browning," The Christian Science Monitor reports. "… Utah has 24 state symbols recognizing the history, geography and culture of the state. They include a state cooking pot, a state tree, a state hymn and a state folk dance."
Thought du jour
"There always comes a time when curiosity becomes a sin."
Anatole France (1844-1924), French writer