Published: Friday 15 December 2006

older, the better: Researchers studying chimpanzee-mating preferences have found that male chimpanzees prefer older females. The study, published in Current Biology , found that older females were more likely to be approached for copulation, were more often in association with males during oestrus periods and copulated more frequently. The findings, however, strike a contrast between chimpanzee and human behaviour, who form unusually long-term mating bonds.

self-healing robot: Joshua Bongard, a University of Vermont engineer, has invented robots that can self-heal. "There is a need for planetary robotic rovers to be able to fix things on their own," he says. The research is essential for NASA which plans to continue using robots for planetary missions. Robots must be able to continue their mission without human intervention in the event they are damaged and cannot communicate their problem back to Earth.

mit's math model: Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers have developed a mathematical model that could help energy companies produce natural gas more efficiently. The researchers are collaborating with experts at Shell to apply the model to a natural gas production system in Malaysia.

The model focuses on the "upstream supply chain," which means the system from the natural gas reservoirs to bulk consumers such as power plants, utility companies and liquefied natural gas plants.

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