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The Mysteries of Animal Movement

David Hu was changing his infant son’s diaper when he got the idea for a study that eventually won him the Ig Nobel prize. No, not the Nobel Prize — the Ig Nobel prize, which bills itself as a reward for “achievements that make people laugh, then think.”As male infants will do, his son urinated all over the front of Dr. Hu’s shirt, for a full 21 seconds. Yes, he counted off the time, because for him curiosity trumps irritation. That was a long time for a small baby, he thought. How long did it take an adult to empty his bladder? He timed himself. Twenty-three seconds.…

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Trilobites: How Do You Count Endangered Species? Look to the Stars

But cameras made for daylight can miss animals or poachers moving through vegetation, and the devices don’t work at night. Infrared cameras can help: Dr. Wich had been using them for decades to study orangutans.These cameras yield large amounts of footage that can’t be analyzed fast enough. So what do animals and stars have in common? They both emit heat. And much like stars, every species has a recognizable thermal footprint.“They look like really bright, shining objects in the infrared footage,” said Dr. Burke. So the software used to find stars and galaxies in space can be used to seek out thermal footprints and the animals that…

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