Given a choice of two males, female túngara frogs will select the most attractive — those with calls of a low frequency and long duration. But when a third male who is inferior is added to the lineup, researchers have found, females often choose the less attractive of the first two. In a study published in the journal Science, scientists at the University of Texas, Austin, and at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute suggest that when a social situation becomes too complex, obvious decisions become too burdensome for the frogs. A similar effect has been observed in humans, suggesting that irrationality in mate selection may have deep biological roots.

 

Aldrin developing Mars colony plan

Buzz Aldrin is teaming up with Florida Institute of Technology to develop “a master plan” for colonizing Mars within 25 years.

Aldrin, 85, who followed Neil Armstrong onto the moon’s surface on July 20, 1969, will serve as a research professor of aeronautics as well as a senior faculty adviser for the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute, which is set to open this fall.

Aldrin — who has a doctorate in science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology — is pushing for a Mars settlement by approximately 2040. More specifically, he’s shooting for 2039, the 70th anniversary of his own Apollo 11 moon landing, although he admits the schedule is “adjustable.”

He envisions using Mars’ moons, Phobos and Deimos, as preliminary steppingstones for astronauts. He said he dislikes the label “one-way” and imagines tours of duty lasting 10 years.

“The Pilgrims on the Mayflower came here to live and stay. They didn’t wait around Plymouth Rock for the return trip, and neither will people building up a population and a settlement” on Mars.

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