Stony Brook University

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The Stony Brook University Men’s Basketball team has made it to the NCAA tournament for the first time in the school’s history.

Maybe Dodos Weren't So Dumb After All

Feb 29, 2016
allispossible.org.uk via Flickr Creative Commons

Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “Dumb as a dodo” before. Dodos were supposed to be dumb — the story goes — that’s why the three-foot tall, flightless birds weren’t afraid of the European sailors who hunted them to extinction on the island of Mauritius in the 1600s.

With their outsized, cartoonish beaks, their tiny wings and their gangly necks stuck on a plump body, they don’t look very smart.

“As goofy as it looks, it’s actually not that bad. It may not be a genius, but it’s no dodo,” says Euginea Gold, a Stony Brook University researcher.

Davis Dunavin / WSHU

Any journalist will tell you that it can be difficult for scientists to explain themselves in layman’s terms.

Actor Alan Alda and Stony Brook University are trying to change that. Since 2009, the university has offered improv classes for scientists out of its Alan Alda Center for Scientific Communication. Alda got the idea while he was the host of the PBS show Scientific American Frontiers in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Some animals can reproduce asexually- that is, by themselves. When they’re in captivity, or they can’t find a mate, some female snakes or frogs can impregnate themselves and give birth to babies without fathers. It’s rare in nature, and usually happens with smaller animals. But, for the first time, a scientist has found larger animals living in the wild that were born this way.

In fact, they’re 18-foot long sawfish, with long noses like chainsaws and bodies like sharks. They live in the muddy rivers of south Florida, and they’re critically endangered.

Federal lawmakers grilled executives from Setauket-based Renaissance Technologies over allegations it evaded some $6 billion in taxes over the last 14 years.

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