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UPI NewsTrack Science and Technology News

Feb. 5, 2013 at 7:00 PM   |   Comments

Study: Climate belief blows hot and cold

NEW YORK, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Americans' belief in climate change goes where the weather goes, researchers say, as exposure to changeable temperatures influences attitudes to climate change.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada, studying U.S. public opinion polls and opinion articles in major U.S. newspapers from 1990 to 2010, say their analysis suggests a cold snap may lead to skepticism over climate change whereas a particularly hot spell may increase concern over climate change.

The researchers said they analyzed the relationship between average national temperatures and the "belief in" and "worry about" attitudes to climate change expressed in the polls and in editorial and opinion articles.

"Our findings help to explain some of the significant fluctuations and inconsistencies in U.S. public opinion on climate change," researcher Simon Donner said. "The study demonstrates just how much local weather can influence people's opinions on global warming. We find that, unfortunately, a cold winter is enough to make some people, including many newspaper editors and opinion leaders, doubt the overwhelming scientific consensus on the issue."

The study has been published in the journal Climatic Change.


Ancient tomb cluster unearthed in China

BEIJING, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Chinese archaeologists say they've unearthed a cluster of 102 ancient tombs, almost half of them for infants, in the westernmost part of the country.

The tombs, found in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, contain wooden caskets with desiccated corpses, along with stoneware, pottery and copper ware believed to have been buried as sacrificial items, Ai Tao from the Xinjiang Archaeological Institute said.

The cluster, believed dating to the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618-907), covers an area of 1,800 square yards atop a 65-foot cliff, an unusual location for tombs, Ai told China's state-run Xinhua news agency.

Archaeologists said they were surprised to find such a large number of infant corpses in the tomb cluster, unearthed during construction of a hydropower project.

"But further research is needed to determine why so many people from that tribe died young," Ai said.

The area where the tombs were found was an important stop on the ancient Silk Road that created economic and cultural exchanges between China and the West, the researchers said.


Common mole can smell in stereo

NASHVILLE, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- A U.S. scientist says there is evidence of at least one mammal -- the common mole -- that can smell in stereo in order to find its prey.

While most mammals, including humans, can both see and hear in stereo, whether they can also smell in stereo has been at the center of longstanding scientific controversy.

Biology Professor Kenneth Catania of Vanderbilt University conducted a study of the common mole, a creature well known in the eastern United States, Canada and Mexico for its tendency to wreak havoc on lawns and gardens.

"I came at this as a skeptic," he said. "I thought the moles' nostrils were too close together to effectively detect odor gradients."

His research on moles, which are virtually blind and have a poor sense of touch, changed his mind, he said, and opens new areas for potential future research.

"The fact that moles use stereo odor cues to locate food suggests other mammals that rely heavily on their sense of smell, like dogs and pigs, might also have this ability."

He created a circular arena with food wells spaced around a 180-degree circle with the entrance for the mole located at the center and conducted a number of trials with the food -- pieces of earthworm -- placed randomly in different wells.

"It was amazing. They found the food in less than five seconds and went directly to the right food ... almost every time," Catania said in a Vanderbilt release Tuesday. "They have a hyper-sensitive sense of smell."


Africa-only smartphone unveiled

SHENZHEN, China, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei has announced a Windows-powered smartphone to be available exclusively in Africa.

The phone, running the Windows Phone 8 operating system, is being produced in partnership with Microsoft as part of the U.S. company's 4Afrika Initiative, intended to improve the continent's global competitiveness.

Huawei's Windows phone will initially be rolled out in seven countries: Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Angola, Morocco and South Africa.

"Our aim is to be the most affordable Windows phone in Africa," Gustavo Fuchs, director of Microsoft Windows Phone division in the Middle East & Africa, told the BBC.

Purchasers of the phone, a customized version of the Huawei Ascend W1, will be able to connect to a customized app store including applications developed by Africans, he said.

"Affordability is important but without the right local content we believe a lot of users will not see the benefit in the change from a basic feature phone to a smartphone," Fuchs said.

Topics: Ivory Coast
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