Babies as young as seven months can distinguish between, and begin to learn, two languages with vastly different grammatical structures, according to new research from the University of British Columbia and Université Paris Descartes.
Published today in the journal Nature Communications and presented at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Boston, the study shows that infants in bilingual environments use pitch and duration cues to discriminate between languages – such as English and Japanese – with opposite word orders.
In English, a function word comes before a content word (the dog, his hat, with friends, for example) and the duration of the content word is longer, while in Japanese or Hindi, the order is reversed, and the pitch of the content word higher.
“By as early as seven months, babies are sensitive to these differences and use these as cues to tell the languages apart,” says UBC psychologist Janet Werker, co-author of the study.
Previous research by Werker and Judit Gervain, a linguist at the Université Paris Descartes and co-author of the new study, showed that babies use frequency of words in speech to discern their significance.
“For example, in English the words ‘the’ and ‘with’ come up a lot more frequently than other words – they’re essentially learning by counting,” says Gervain. “But babies growing up bilingual need more than that, so they develop new strategies that monolingual babies don’t necessarily need to use.”
“If you speak two languages at home, don’t be afraid, it’s not a zero-sum game,” says Werker. “Your baby is very equipped to keep these languages separate and they do so in remarkable ways.”
It looks like drilling through 2.3 miles of ice may have paid off: The Russian scientists who did just that last year at Antarctica’s Lake Vostok say the samples they recovered contain an “unclassified and unidentified” life form, reports the BBC.The bacteria’s DNA measured less than 86% similar to that of previously existing life forms—which the team’s leader explains is “basically zero” when it comes to DNA. “A level of 90% usually means that the organism is unknown.” “If this had been found on Mars everyone would have undoubtedly said there is life on Mars,” continued the scientist, who says fresh samples will be retrieved from the subglacial lake in May. “But this is bacteria from Earth.” Lake Vostok is so oxygen-rich—about 50 times more so than freshwater lakes—that any microbes living in it must have evolved special adaptations to survive there, notes the Daily Galaxy.
Relatively Simple: Explaining the Theory of General Relativity
Published in 1916, Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity is one of the towering accomplishments of 20th-century physics, completely changing our picture of the universe. While formulating his theory of special relativity, Einstein found that space and time are one and the same thing—they’re woven together into a single fabric called space-time. Everything that happens in the universe affects space-time, and space-time affects everything in the universe. Matter is embedded within this fabric, and so it warps, bends and distorts the space-time. Imagine setting a basketball on a trampoline—its mass will make a dent in the springy sheet. If you then rolled a marble around the basketball, the dent would cause the marble to spiral inwards towards the larger ball, much the same way as the gravity of the sun pulls at the Earth—like the basketball, the sun curves and warps the space around it. Newton postulates that smaller masses travel towards larger ones because of a force of attraction between them, but Einstein theorises that actually, massive objects cause a distortion in space-time, which is felt as gravitational influence. It’s a cool thought—that matter makes space-time stretch and warp, forming mountains and valleys that create ‘paths’ for objects to move through. The planets travelling around the sun are simply following the curvature of space-time.As theoretical physicist John Archibald Wheeler said, “Matter tells space-time how to curve, and curved space tells matter how to move.” Although we can’t actually see or measure space-time, it’s been confirmed by observing phenomena like gravitation lensing, which is the way light bends around massive objects such as black holes because of the warped space-time around them. Newton wasn’t wrong—matter is the source of gravity, and his equations still hold up most of the time—Einstein just delved further into how and why gravity exists.
Capturing solar energy efficiently and inconspicuously is something that the Solaroad cycle path has attempted in the Netherlands. Now scientists at Stanford University have developed peel-and-stick solar panels, which can be attached to any surface. READ MORE…