University of Michigan: Science News Round-Up

Calling all cars: U-M takes center stage in safe transportation

UMTRI will install wireless communication devices on nearly 3,000 vehicles that will let cars, trucks and buses “talk” to each other, as well as to traffic lights and other road signals located at intersections, curves and highway sites throughout a test-pilot area in northeast Ann Arbor.

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Religion is a potent force for cooperation and conflict, research shows

“Moralizing gods, emerging over the last few millennia, have enabled large-scale cooperation and sociopolitical conquest even without war,” said University of Michigan anthropologist Scott Atran, lead author of the article with Jeremy Ginges of the New School for Social Research.

“Sacred values sustain intractable conflicts like those between the Israelis and the Palestinians that defy rational, business-like negotiation. But they also provide surprising opportunities for resolution.”

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U-M biologist plays key role in effort to create first comprehensive tree of life

The Open Tree of Life project is led by Karen Cranston of Duke University and has several sub-groups. University of Michigan computational evolutionary biologist Stephen Smith heads the group that will tackle the nitty-gritty details of piecing together all the existing branches, stems and twigs of life’s tree into a single diagram.

Smith joined the U-M faculty in January as an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, his first university faculty position.

“This is a very complicated beast, and I’m really looking forward to the challenge,” Smith said of the draft tree. “I really like taking on a problem that somebody, at some point, in a room that I’ve been sitting in, has said is not possible to do. And this is one of those instances.”

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