Animal & human behavior

First-ever recording of a blue whale’s heart rate

With a lot of ingenuity and a little luck, researchers monitored the heart rate of a blue whale in the wild. The measurement suggests that blue whale hearts are operating at extremes – and may limit the whale’s size.

Drag can lift birds to new heights

Recordings of birds taking off and landing have revealed that conventional ideas about the role of lift and drag during flight might need revisiting. The work could influence the design of aerial robotics.

How citizens become agents of environmental change

Some programs work better than others when it comes to involving citizens in preserving the environment. After reviewing those that worked, Stanford researchers propose a blueprint for how others can educate people to maximize their impact.

Young children have intuitions of great teachers

Even at a young age, children know that deciding what to teach is as important as knowing how to teach. This ability to instruct each other could explain why humans are so adaptable.

Smart faucet could help save water

An experiment with a water-saving “smart” faucet shows potential for reducing water use. The catch? Unbeknownst to study participants, the faucet’s smarts came from its human controller.

How can robots land like birds?

Birds can perch on a wide variety of surfaces, thick or thin, rough or slick. But can they find stable footing if a branch is covered in Teflon? In the interest of making better robots, Stanford researchers found out.

Pro-environment cigarette marketing works

A survey of adult former smokers, current smokers and people who have never smoked found that people perceived cigarettes marketed as being environmentally friendly as less harmful to health and the environment.