National Geographic : 2013 May
NEXT photo: adrian bailey. art: oliver Munday. Graphic (top): Álvaro valiÑo Source: EthnologuE, 17th edition, Sil international Tattle Tailing Reckless drivers may want to take note. Researchers in Spain are developing a system that would make every car a traffic cop. Funded by the country’s Ministry of Science and Innovation, the car-to-car network could report violations to authorities. Sensors would spot nearby cars going over the limit or help lay blame for a fender bender. “Vehicles would act as witnesses of each other,” says computer scientist José María de Fuentes. Knowing everyone’s a snitch could make driving more stressful but also, policymakers hope, safer. — DS Silicon booties helped researchers understand how some beetles use dung balls to escape hot sand. Hot Rollers dung beetles roll pieces of cow drop- pings, a core part of their diet, away from the pile to avoid feeding frenzies. now researchers have found that some species also use the tightly packed balls to stay cool when walking across sand as hot as 150°F in South africa. to test the beetles’ heat threshold, scientists at lund university and the university of the Witwatersrand outfitted them with boots made of heat-resistant silicon. the footwear let the insects walk on hot surfaces without pausing as often to climb atop the balls, which can be up to 77°F cooler. “these animals do amazing things on minimal computing power,” says South african entomologist Marcus byrne. the dung balls aren’t just necessities. Mating beetles also use them as nuptial gifts. —Daniel Stone nearly one in four people is a native speaker of Mandarin, Spanish, or english.