Our closest relatives, chimpanzees and gorillas, breast-feed their offspring for several years. Some baby orangutans nurse until they are 7 years old.
But modern humans wean much earlier. In preindustrial societies, babies stop nursing after about two years. Which raises the question: How did we get that way? When did we make the evolutionary shift from ape-like parenting, to the short breast-feeding period of humans?
"I'm shocked by the optimism here," Howard Yana-Shapiro, the chief agricultural officer for Mars Inc. said Tuesday to the audience of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs' Global Food Security Symposium in Washington, D.C.
Seated there before him were some of the leaders from the wealthiest international organizations and multinational companies of the fight to end hunger. And Shapiro told them they weren't even close.
Given the World Wide Web's ubiquity, you might be tempted to believe that everything is online. But there's one important piece of the Web's own history that can't be found through a search engine: the very first Web page.
Now a team at the lab where the World Wide Web was invented is seeking to restore that page, and other pieces of memorabilia from the earliest moments of the http:// era. They're on the hunt for old hard drives and floppy disks that may hold missing copies of early, valuable files.
Scientists have completed an unusual survey: a census of the fungi that inhabit different places on our skin. It's part of a big scientific push to better understand the microbes that live in and on our bodies.
"This is the first study of our fungi, which are yeast and other molds that live on the human body," says Julie Segre, of the National Human Genome Research Institute, who led the survey.
Last week I gave a lecture at a corporative event for some 200 executives in the insurance business. Although this happened abroad, my experience is that things would not have been very different here. My mission was to jump-start some macro-level reflection, gently pushing people out of their comfort zone, posing questions that, in the rush of everyday life, we tend to leave aside.
An international group of plant pathologists has solved a historical mystery behind Ireland's Great Famine.
Sure, scientists have known for a while that a funguslike organism called Phytophthora infestans was responsible for the potato blight that plagued Ireland starting in the 1840s. But there are many different strains of the pathogen that cause the disease, and scientists have finally discovered the one that triggered the Great Famine.
It's exactly the sort of futuristic thinking you'd expect from Google and NASA: Late last week, the organizations announced a partnership to build a Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab at NASA's Ames Research Center.