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Science in 140 characters: Google goes green

What scientists are tweeting about.

Google goes green@phylogenomics
Jonathan Eisen, biologist

Large corporations are usually some of the biggest consumers of energy in the world, and Google is no exception. Over the last one year, the tech giant’s offices worldwide consumed as much energy as the city of San Francisco, according to an article tweeted by biologist Jonathan Eisen. However, for 2017, the Internet search firm has announced its offices will run entirely on renewable energy. Though it may not be done literally (Google buys power from a power company) the firm operates a series of hydroelectric dams, solar panels and wind turbines in dozens of locations. The electricity generated from Google’s renewables is plugged back to the respective country’s power grid, which means Google’s net carbon footprint from 2017 will be zero. “We are the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the world,” Joe Kava, Google’s senior vice president of technical infrastructure, was quoted in the article. “It’s good for the economy, good for business and good for our shareholders.” Google has also been looking at investing in new sources of alternate energy, the article states. It 2007, for example, the company considered the idea of a floating office which would be powered by the waves underneath it.

Spider superdads@scicurious
Bethany Brookshire, science writer

In much of the animal kingdom, the the upkeep of eggs and the young usually falls on the female of the species, which is especially true for spiders. Now, according to an article tweeted by biologist Bethany Brookshire, scientists at the Federal University of Uberlândia in Brazil found that in the small Manogea porracea species, male spiders remain on active duty protecting the eggs. Spider Dad builds a dome-shaped web around the eggs and both parents stand guard against invaders. Rafael Rios Moura, who conducted the study, found that in 68 per cent of the cases, the males were the sole protector of the eggs. “To the best of my knowledge, there really aren’t other examples where male spiders step up to care for young or eggs,” Linda Rayor of Cornell University, who studied spider maternal care, was quoted in the article.

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Lie detection@samharrisorg
Sam Harris, neuroscientist

In 2006, US Army ranger Gary Smith was convicted of killing his roommate and fellow Afghanistan war veteran Michael McQueen. During the trial, Smith’s lawyers tried to bring an unusual bit of “evidence” to the court: his brain. They claimed that in an fMRI machine, it appeared Smith was not lying when he proclaimed his innocence, an article tweeted by neuroscientist Sam Harris says. The judge rejected this as admissible evidence but the legal community has started debating whether fMRI scans can accurately detect truth-telling. An fMRI measures the flow of oxygenated blood through the brain, lighting up regions that are active. If a person is lying, the part of the brain responsible for imagination lights up; if he’s telling the truth, the “memory” section lights up. However, the article adds, the technology’s accuracy was being oversold by Smith’s lawyers.

First published on: 12-12-2016 at 02:07 IST
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