Share:How Sheep Are like an Avalanche


Sheep are rarely dangerous to skiers, but otherwise they have a lot in common with avalanches. That’s what physicists say after mathematically modeling the ungulates’ behavior (and staying well out of their path).

Francesco Ginelli, who researches complex systems at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, had already studied flocks of birds and schools of fish. But he was curious to learn what was different about the movement of sheep or other grazers. Animals like these have a simple goal, Ginelli says: “They need to eat without being eaten.” 

Ginelli and his colleagues started their investigation by simply watching some merino sheep. At an experimental farm in the south of France, the researchers led herds of 100 female sheep into square enclosures 80 meters on each side. For up to 3.5 hours at a time, they let the sheep roam around their pastures. Meanwhile a camera snapped high-resolution photos from overhead, one picture per second.

Then researchers digitized this footage, going frame-by-frame and marking each sheep’s position by hand. The herd’s movements looked strikingly like an avalanche, Ginelli says.

Most of the time, a herd of sheep spreads slowly across an open area. The animals eat as they go. But every once in a while, a sheep near the periphery notices that it’s too isolated from the rest of the group. It suddenly sprints back toward the center, where it will be safer from predators. There’s no event that seems to trigger this movement, no “Baa!” of alarm; it comes out of nowhere. As the first sheep runs, others start to follow it, gathering mass like cascading pile of snow. Then, all at once—and again with no discernible signal—the animals stop moving. They continue grazing as before, now in a densely packed herd. (You can watch this behavior here.)

The researchers tried to build a computer model that would make a digital herd unpack and re-pack itself just like a real one does. They succeeded by creating a set of rules for a digital sheep, Ginelli says:

First, graze. You may either walk slowly or stand still while you eat grass. Try to align yourself with your close neighbors.

Next, freak out (maybe). Run, especially if you see a close neighbor running. This will get the whole herd back into its tightly packed state. In the model, the switch to freak-out mode is partly random, and partly influenced by how close a sheep’s neighbors are and what they’re doing.

This model works “fairly well” at creating artificial sheep herds that move like real ones, Ginelli says. It matters to researchers who are trying to understand how groups of animals behave, and how those behaviors evolved. “The origin of cooperative behavior in social groups is a very important question in evolutionary biology,” Ginelli says.

Merino sheep, it turns out, organize themselves pretty much like an avalanche does. This knowledge might help scientists grasp how other communities of grazers operate. Soon they may discover cow tsunamis or goatquakes—but probably not sharknados.

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Scientific article:Maternal and Infant Factors Associated with Child Growth in the First Year of Life

251Authors: Mahama Saaka*, Irene Abaah

Abstract: Aim: To assess the predictors associated with infant length-for-age Z-score (LAZ) in the first year of life. This paper presents the relative contribution of maternal and child factors to child growth among children aged 6-12 months in an urban area of Northern Region of Ghana. Methods:This was a retrospective cohort study design in which systematic random sampling technique was used to select study participants, who sought post natal care services in selected hospitals within Tamale Metropolis. The association between LAZ and explanatory variables (maternal height, birth weight, infant and child feeding practices) was assessed using both bivariate and multiple linear regression analyses. Results: The mean age of the children was 8.6±1.9 months and 53.8 % were in the 6-8 months age group. The mean dietary diversity score (DDS) was 4.18±1.69 for children aged 6-12 months. Nearly 70.0 % of the children had adequate meal frequency, 73.0 % met the minimum dietary diversity (≥ 4 food groups) and 57.5 % of the children met the minimum acceptable diet. The greatest predictors of mean LAZ were maternal height, low birth weight (LBW), whether child is wasted or not and the consumption of specific foods groups by the child. A 1-unit increase in weight for length z-score (WLZ) was associated with 0.156 decrease in length for age z-score (LAZ) [beta = -0.156 (95% CI: -0.26, -0.03)] among infants 6 to 8 months of age after controlling for LBW and maternal height. Among children 9-12 months, a unit increase in weight for length z-score (WLZ) was associated with 0.182 decrease in length for age z-score (LAZ) [beta = -0.182 (95% CI: -0.32, -0.04)]. The nature and strength of association between LBW and mean LAZ was different according to the age group of the child. Among children aged 6-8 months, the mean LAZ of LBW children were significantly higher than that of children whose birth weight was normal. For children aged 9-12 months, LBW children had lower mean LAZ compared to children with birth weight of at least 2.5 kg (beta coefficient = -0.320, p < 0.001). Conclusion: In conclusion, the effect of birth weight and maternal height on LAZ depended on the age of the child. The data do suggest that between the ages of 6-8 months, LBW babies may be growing faster in length than non-LBW babies. However, from 9-12 months non-LBW babies grow faster than LBW babies.

Keywords: Child Growth, Maternal Height, Low Birth Weight, Intrauterine Growth Restriction, Northern Ghana

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Share:New treasures discovered from ancient Greek shipwreck

New treasures discovered from ancient Greek shipwreck

Marine archaeologists have recovered more than 50 luxurious remnants from the ancient Greek Antikythera shipwreck, first discovered in 1900, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution reports. This excavation is the first scientifically driven dive and has sparked the first comprehensive study of the artifacts. Scientists hope that the uncovered treasures will provide hints to how the “1%” lived in ancient Greece.

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American Journal of Biological and Environmental Statistics

375American Journal of Biological and Environmental Statistics (AJBES) is a peer-reviewed, open-access, interdisciplinary, international quarterly journal which publishes high quality original papers, review papers and research articles of exceptional significance in all areas of biostatistics, health statistics, agricultural and environmental statistics. English edition of the journal covers a wide range of experimental, theoretical and general issues of biological and environmental statistics. The primary goal of this journal is to advance the understanding of biological, agricultural and environmental phenomenon, structure and function using statistical methods, quantitative techniques and tools. Particularly, the basic objective of this quarterly international journal is to explore exceptional significant results and recent advancements on all aspects in the field of biological and environmental science by application of statistical principles and software. All papers sent to American Journal of Biological and Environmental Statistics (AJBES) are peer reviewed to ensure a high quality of scientific standards.
American Journal of Biological and Environmental Statistics (AJBES) aims to promote rapid communication and dialogue among the worldwide eminent researchers, scientists, engineers and policy makers working in the areas of biological, agricultural and environmental statistics. The editorial main scope is to elect pioneer scientific research papers in any field which meet a high standard to promote the journal reputation and scientific reliance in international databases. Papers which interest readers from more than one discipline are mostly considered. In particular, we are keen to publish work with international audience. Subject areas may include, but are not limited to the following fields:
Biomedical statistics         Agricultural statistics
Health statistics                 Biological advancements
Agricultural economics     Environmental statistics
Climate change                    Biological motility
Structure of molecules         Statistical modeling on biological and environmental issues
Forest loss and management    Natural environment
Energy transformation and transfers   Air and water Pollution
Pollution Control                                         Statistical genetics
Energy statistics                                           Statistical quality control
Forecasting methods                                  Social statistics
Environmental chemistry                           Population studies
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Share video:Should you flush those ‘flushable wipes?’

A new video from Chemical & Engineering News’s (C&EN’s) Speaking of Chemistry series examines the chemistry underpinning what makes so-called flushable wipes actually flushable. In theory, chemical binders that help hold some wipes together are designed to “deactivate” once the wipes are removed from the wetting solution they come in, they say. As a result, the wipes—sometimes made of synthetic fibers and sometimes of plant-based cellulose ones—should fall apart as they make their way through the sewer system, but a growing number of water and sewer managers disagree. They have alleged in recent years the wipes don’t actually fall apart once they’re flushed—as the companies that make the products claim—leading to pipe clogs that interrupt sewer service and cost money to fix, C&EN reports.
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Project and Journal Article Writing for Agricultural Science and Related Disciplines

big10Author: Ibrahim Hayatu Kubkomawa

ISBN: 978-1-940366-03-6

Published Date: May, 2014

About the Authors

Ibrahim Hayatu Kubkomawa was born on 18th April 1975 at Kwargashe Village of Lala District, Gombi Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Nigeria. He is a devoted Christian and Lala by tribe. He attended Fotta Primary School from 1983 to 1989; General Murtala Mohammed College (G.M.M.C) Yola, from 1989 to 1994. He proceeded to the Federal University of Technology Yola, (FUTY) now Modibo Adama University of Technology (MAUTECH) Yola where he obtained B. Tech. (Hons) Animal Science and Range Management with Second Class Upper Division in 2002. He was deployed for his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to Alu Community High School, Alu, Kogi State. During his service year, he distinguished himself and served selflessly and meritoriously, which earned him a state NYSC award of commendation as a dedicated and committed corps member of 2002. He holds a Certificate in Computer Application and Techniques with WISEMATE Nig. Ltd., Ikoyi Lagos in 2006; Certificate in Computer Appreciation and Applications with Impact and Associates (Management Consultants) Maiduguri, Borno State in Collaboration with Skisoft Systems Consultants Ltd., 2009. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Animal Production and Management from Federal University of Technology Yola in 2011. He is also a Ph.D student with the Department of Animal Science and Technology, Federal University of Technology, P. M. B. 1526, Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria. He is a Registered Animal Scientist (RAS), a full member of the Nigerian Institute of Animal Science (NIAS) and Animal Science Association of Nigeria (ASAN). He has thirty one (31) published articles in reputable local and international journals across the world. He has also attended many workshops and conferences of international renown. He has taught in Adamawa State College of Agriculture, Mubi between 2003 and 2007 and is currently a Lecturer with the Department of Animal Health and Production Technology, The Federal Polytechnic, P. M. B. 35, Mubi, Adamawa State, Nigeria. The author’s hobbies include: reading, writing, traveling, listening to gospel music, meeting and helping people. His likes include: appreciating beauty of nature, honesty, hard work and respect for people.

About this book:

This Book, Project and Journal Article Writing for Agricultural Science and Related Disciplines, is a guide. It is a product of positive, visionary and innovative thinking conceived and nurtured over the years out of observing lots of confusion, difficulties and frustrations confronting ever anxious, desperate young graduating students and researchers. This led to its designing and compilation to help and guide final year students, researchers and all stake holders in the field of agricultural science and other related disciplines. Graduating students may embark on self-reliant research project work from start to its logical conclusion without much problem using this guide. It critically identifies and treats the most important and demanding basics, fundamental ground rules, and essential items required for any meaningful scientific research work. Research and journal article writing is one of the pre-requisites to attain the peak of the profession in an academic community. When you fail to publish you perish and lots of beneficial ideals and knowledge perish with you.

To students, it’s poignant to point out that they should learn to conduct and write a fairly good research project and graduate with flying colours or ignore the tactics, rudiments, nitty-gritty and be frustrated within the academic environment. It is the author’s sincere desire; hope and faithful prayer that, whoever reads this book with great zeal and comprehension, will find it up to date, promising and fulfilling to answer the many research questions that they were unable to answer before.


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Share: Wartime Germans weren’t that close to developing atomic bomb

Wartime Germans weren’t that close to developing atomic bomb

In the midst of World War II, fears that Germany might be on the cusp of developing an atomic bomb fueled the United States’s nuclear research. But how close were the Germans to actually developing such a weapon? A new study argues not that close, Forbes reports. In research published online before print in Angewandte Chemie, the scientists investigated uranium samples from 1940s German nuclear projects and found no evidence of a self-sustained nuclear chain reaction—the chemical foundations of an atomic bomb. Specifically, the team measured amounts of uranium-236 and plutonium-239—isotopes that occur in small amounts naturally but can be produced in nuclear reactors—and found only minor amounts, the researchers say.

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Clinical Manifestations and Pathophysiology of Sarcopenia


Mitsutaka Yakabe, Sumito Ogawa*, Masahiro Akishita

Department of Geriatric Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

Abstract: Sarcopenia is an age-related condition characterized by low muscle mass and low physical performance. Several groups have established diagnostic criteria for sarcopenia, which include usual gait speed, skeletal muscle mass and grip strength. In this article, we summarize these criteria, pathogenesis, epidemiology, related conditions and possible interventions for sarcopenia.

Keywords: Sarcopenia, Frailty, Vitamin D, Testosterone, Nutrition, Inflammation


Sarcopenia is characterized by loss of muscle mass, strength and function. This debilitating condition is common in the elderly and results in frailty, disability 1, and high mortality 2. The number of elderly population with sarcopenia is increasing all over the world, and it is becoming an important public concern 3.

The word “sarcopenia” is derived from Greek sarx(flesh) and penia’ (loss). This term was first proposed by Rosenberg in 1988, originally indicating muscle mass loss caused by aging 4. The range of muscle decrease included in sarcopenia was controversial, and there was no conclusive definition of sarcopenia. In 2010, European Working Group on Sarcopenia in Older People (EWGSOP) defined sarcopenia as “a syndrome characterized by progressive and generalized loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength with a risk of adverse outcomes such as physical disability, poor quality of life and death” 5. Then sarcopenia have gradually come to be known to clinicians and researchers.

This scientific paper published in journal RNA and Transcription, if you like, you can read full scientific paper in SciencePG for free.

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Share:Specific fatty acids may worsen Crohn’s disease

Source:Duke University

Summary:Some research has suggested that omega-3 fatty acids, abundant in fish oils, can relieve inflammation in the digestive tracts of people with Crohn’s disease. But a new study hints that we should be paying closer attention to what the other omegas — namely, omega-6 and omega-7 — and are doing to improve or worsen the disease.

A new software tool allows scientists to link different human diseases and traits through the genetic variations they share.
Credit: Liuyang Wang, Dennis Ko lab

Some research has suggested that omega-3 fatty acids, abundant in fish oils, can relieve inflammation in Crohn’s disease. But a new study using software developed by Duke scientists hints that we should be paying closer attention to what the other omegas — namely, omega-6 and omega-7 — are doing to improve or worsen the disease.

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory disease of the digestive tract that causes abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever and weight loss. Although it is thought to stem from an interplay between environmental and genetic factors, the exact causes are unclear. There is no cure, but people with the disease can avoid flare-ups by taking anti-inflammatory drugs and altering diet.

“Dietary therapies for Crohn’s disease should be examined more systematically, and this study provides a good first step,” said Dennis Ko, an assistant professor of molecular genetics and microbiology in the Duke School of Medicine.

Published September 15 in Genome Biology, the study relied on new software for researchers that identifies connections between seemingly unrelated human diseases and traits through the tiny, risk-conferring genetic variations they have in common.

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International Journal of Sustainable and Green Energy

169International Journal of Sustainable and Green Energy is an interdisciplinary journal covering all areas of renewable and sustainable energy-related fields that apply to the physical science and engineering communities. The coverage of the journal includes the following disciplines: biomass energy efficient architecture fuel cells geothermal energy hydro (tidal, OTEC, small scale hydro-electric) hydrogen energy photochemistry solar (active solar, passive solar, and photovoltaics) transport (alternative energy powered vehicles) wind Renewable and Sustainable Energy, and so on.
About This Journal

International Journal of Sustainable and Green Energy is a peer-reviewed, open access, online journal, publishing original research, reports, reviews and commentaries on all areas of energy. Subject areas may include, but are not limited to the following fields:

  • • Nuclear energy
  • • Solar energy
  • • Wind energy
  • • Energy conversion
  • • Bioenergy and biofuels
  • • Geothermal energy
  • • Marine energy
  • • Hydroelectric energy
  • • Energy efficient buildings
  • • Energy storage
  • • Power distribution
  • • Transportation
  • • Renewable energy assessment
  • • Energy storage devices
  • • Ocean mechanical and thermal energy

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