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UPI NewsTrack Health and Science News

Dec. 5, 2011 at 7:18 PM   |   Comments

Study: Crows remember colors a year later

TOKYO, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Japanese researchers say they found crows have long-term memory, perhaps better than humans in some ways, allowing them to remember colors for at least a year.

In experiments at Utsunomiya University, the birds were able to select containers with hidden food items based on color cues after extended intervals, Kyodo News reported Monday.

"It is not easy even for human beings to remember visual color information for a year," said Shoei Sugita, a professor of animal morphology who led the research. "Crows may be even better than human beings in a certain aspect of memory."

The latest finding came in Sugita's research commissioned by the Chubu Electric Power Co., which has been troubled by crows' nests on it power line towers, Kyodo News reported.


Canada says no to Kyoto climate protocols

OTTAWA, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Canada won't budge on its rejection of the Kyoto Protocol emission targets once the current period expires in 2012, Environment Minister Peter Kent says.

The Canadian government wants Kyoto to be replaced with an international treaty that would include all major emitters including the United States, China and India, Kent told the Globe and Mail Monday.

China's top negotiator at a U.N. climate conference in Durban, South Africa, had suggested his country -- now the world's largest emitter -- would accept binding commitments in a treaty after 2020 as long as developed countries renew their pledges under Kyoto.

Asked whether Canada would reconsider its Kyoto position in the light of China's flexibility, Kent, in a telephone interview from Durban, offered an emphatic "No."

In Ottawa, the New Democratic Party has offered a motion in the House of Commons calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government to "respect and adhere to its commitments" made under Kyoto.

Canada has little chance of reaching its Kyoto target of reducing emissions by 6 percent from 1990 levels by 2012 and would need to spend billions to purchase international credits to meet that goal, the Globe and Mail said.


Risk of driving in adverse weather studied

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Older men driving on snow and ice, women driving on rain-slick highways and younger men on dry roads are at higher risk of serious injury, U.S. researchers say.

The study of Indiana drivers, conducted by Purdue University, analyzed 2007-08 police report crash data of 23,431 Indiana drivers, a university release said Monday.

"I would say Indiana is pretty representative of the nation as a whole because it is average in terms of climate and socio-demographics, so these findings might be similar nationwide," Fred Mannering, a professor of civil engineering, said.

A surprise finding was that men younger than 45 showed a 21 percent higher likelihood of severe injury while driving on dry roads than on wet roads and a 72 percent higher likelihood of severe injury on a dry road than on snowy and icy roads, Mannering said.

"Younger men may be tempering some of their aggressive driving behavior to compensate for the compromised roadway surface under adverse weather conditions," Mannering said. "But they seem to let such behavior loose on dry roads and may be underestimating the severe crash risk in good weather conditions."

Men 45 and older are 5.5 times more likely to be severely injured or killed when driving on snowy and icy road surfaces than when driving on wet surfaces, the study found.

"It's noteworthy that older men driving pickup trucks were 81 percent more likely to be injured on snow and icy surfaces than those older men driving other vehicle types," Mannering said. "This could reflect overconfidence or a false sense of safety in such vehicles, which are generally larger."


Massive roof farm planned for Berlin

BERLIN, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- A massive former factory roof in Berlin will become a farm to produce food for local residents and could be a model for future city farms, its planners say.

The Fresh from the Roof project is intended to create a 75,000-square-foot roof garden, complete with a fish farm, to provide Berliners with locally grown food, Der Spiegel reported Monday.

Traditional farming needs to evolve, the project's founders said, and urban farming needs to lead the way.

"Humankind is driving fast into a wall," Fresh from the Roof co-founder Nicolas Leschk said. "Global resources are running out. With so many people living in cities, we need to think locally."

The roof of the former malt factory in Berlin's Schoneberg district should begin to yield lettuce, herbs and tomatoes as well as different species of fish by 2013, he said.

The project's founders say it will cost about $6.7 million to set up the roof farm and are looking for investors.

"This is a gap in the market and we want to close it," co-founder Christian Echternacht said.

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