Understanding ‘Ba Ba Ba’ as a Key to Development
( New York Times )

As a pediatrician, I always ask about babble. “Is the baby making
sounds?” I ask the parent of a 4-month-old, a 6-month-old, a 9-month-old. The answer is rarely no. But if it is, it’s important to try to find out what’s going on.

Babies have to hear real language from real people to learn these skills. Television doesn’t do it, and neither do educational videos: recent
research suggests that this learning is in part shaped by the quality and context of adult response.

To study babbling, researchers have begun to look at the social response ― at the baby and the parent together. Michael H. Goldstein, an assistant professor of psychology at Cornell, has done experiments showing that
babies learn better from parental stimulation ― acquiring new sounds and new sound patterns, for example ― if parents provide that stimulation specifically in response to the baby’s babble.

The experimenters argue that a baby’s vocalizations signal a state of focused attention, a readiness to learn language. When parents respond to babble by naming the object at hand, the argument goes, children are more likely to learn words. So if a baby looks at an apple and says, “Ba ba!” it’s better to respond by naming the apple than by guessing, for example, “Do you want your bottle?”

【 まずは準備運動 】

・pediatrician 小児科医
・context 前後関係、文脈
・acquire 習得する、獲得する
・specifically 明確に、はっきりと

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New Planet May Be Able to Nurture Organisms
( New York Times )

It might be a place that only a lichen or pond scum could love, but
astronomers said Wednesday that they had found a very distant planet
capable of harboring water on its surface, thus potentially making it a home for plant or animal life.

Nobody from Earth will be visiting anytime soon: The planet, which goes by the bumpy name of Gliese 581g, is orbiting a star about 20 light-years away in the constellation Libra.

But if the finding is confirmed by other astronomers, the planet, which has three to four times the mass of Earth, would be the most Earthlike planet yet discovered, and the first to meet the criteria for being potentially habitable.

But they expressed caution about this particular planet, noting
uncertainties about its density, composition and atmosphere, and the need for another generation of giant telescopes and spacecraft in order to find out anything more about it. Other Goldilocks planets have come and gone in recent years.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・pond scum 藻類(scum:浮きかす)
・orbit 軌道(に乗って回る)
・constellation 星座
・mass 大きなかたまり、質量
・density 密集、濃度
・composition 組み立て(ること)、合成

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A Masterpiece of Nature? Yuck!
( New York Times )

A friend recently sent around an e-mail with the subject line “lost cat bulletin.” Open the message and ― gack! ― there was a head-on shot of a star-nosed mole, its “Dawn of the Dead” digging claws in full view and its hallmark nasal boutonniere of 22 highly sensitive feelers looking like fresh bits of sirloin being extruded through a meat grinder.

“I don’t think anyone would come near that cat, much less steal it,” tittered one respondent. Another participant, unfamiliar with the mole, wondered whether this was a “Photoshop project gone bad,” while a third simply wrote, “Ugh.”

There are some animals that few would choose as wallpaper for a Web browser, that, to the contrary, will often provoke in a human viewer a reflexive retraction of the nostrils accompanied by either a guttural or adenoidal vocalization: ugh, yuck, eeww, etc.

Let’s not pussyfoot. They are, by our standards, ugly animals ― maybe cute ugly, more often just ugly ugly. And though the science of ugliness lags behind investigations into the evolution of beauty, a few researchers are taking a crack at understanding why we find certain animals unsightly even when they don't threaten us with venom or compete for our food. Here are just a few examples.

Begin Slide Show → http://nyti.ms/cQson4


【 まずは準備運動 】

・nasal 鼻の
・extrude 押し出す、突き出す
・provoke (感情・行動などを)引き起こす、怒らせる
・nostril 鼻の穴、鼻孔
・guttural 喉の
・pussyfoot こっそり歩く、日和見的態度をとる
・lag のろのろ歩く、遅れる
・crack 裂け目、割れ目、試み
・venom (ヘビ・サソリ・ハチなどの)毒

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In Weather Chaos, a Case for Global Warming
( New York Times )

Seemingly disconnected, these far-flung disasters are reviving the
question of whether global warming is causing more weather extremes.

The collective answer of the scientific community can be boiled down to a single word: probably.

Theory suggests that a world warming up because of those greenhouse gases will feature heavier rainstorms in summer, bigger snowstorms in winter,
more intense droughts in at least some places and more record-breaking heat waves. Scientists and government reports say the statistical evidence shows that much of this is starting to happen.

Climate-change skeptics dispute such statistical arguments, contending
that climatologists do not know enough about long-range patterns to draw definitive links between global warming and weather extremes. They cite events like the heat and drought of the 1930s as evidence that extreme weather is nothing new. Those were indeed dire heat waves, contributing to the Dust Bowl, which dislocated millions of Americans and changed the
population structure of the United States.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・greenhouse gas 温室効果ガス
・drought 干ばつ、日照り
・skeptic 懐疑論者(形容詞:skeptical)
・dispute 論争する、異議を唱える
・contend 主張する、競う
・dire 恐ろしい、物凄い

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A Scientist Takes On Gravity
( New York Times )

It’s hard to imagine a more fundamental and ubiquitous aspect of life on the Earth than gravity, from the moment you first took a step and fell on your diapered bottom to the slow terminal sagging of
flesh and dreams.

But what if it’s all an illusion, a sort of cosmic frill, or a side effect of something else going on at deeper levels of reality?

So says Erik Verlinde, 48, a respected string theorist and professor of physics at the University of Amsterdam, whose contention that gravity is indeed an illusion has caused a continuing ruckus among physicists, or at least among those who profess to understand it. Reversing the logic of 300 years of science, he argued in a recent paper, titled “On the Origin of Gravity and the Laws of Newton,” that gravity is a consequence of the venerable laws of thermodynamics, which describe the behavior of heat and gases.

“For me gravity doesn’t exist,” said Dr. Verlinde, who was recently in the United States to explain himself. Not that he can’t fall down, but Dr. Verlinde is among a number of physicists who say
that science has been looking at gravity the wrong way and that there is something more basic, from which gravity “emerges,” the way stock markets emerge from the collective behavior of individual
investors or that elasticity emerges from the mechanics of atoms.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・sag 下がる、垂れ下がる
・contention 主張、闘争(動詞:contend)
・ruckus 騒ぎ、騒動
・consequence 結果、帰結
・venerable 尊ぶべき、敬うべき
・elasticity 弾力、弾性(形容詞:elastic)

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