Environment

29 of The Most Surreal Landscapes on The Planet

Earth is full of bizarre landscapes. Some are land formations moulded over thousands of years, while others are human-made creations that have altered the planet in strange ways. From the bubbling lava lakes of Ethiopia, to a lake that has been nestled in the desert for 2,000 years, here are 29 landscapes that are so incredible, it’s hard to believe …


Humans

Scientists Have Found a Way to Help You Learn New Skills Twice as Fast

The key to learning a new motor skill – such as playing the piano or mastering a new sport – isn’t necessarily how many hours you spend practising, but the way you practise, according to a 2016 study. Scientists have found that by subtly varying your training, you can keep your brain more active throughout the learning process, and halve …


China’s dark matter space probe just detected… something very interesting

The search for dark matter continues, in part through China’s Dark Matter Particle Explorer (DAMPE) – and the probe just picked up a suggestion of something on its instruments that suggests we could be getting closer to the big discovery. No, we haven’t found dark matter yet, but we have found what could be an indicator of it, leading us …

Researchers just smashed a quantum computing record with 10 entangled qubits

The full power of quantum computing remains out of reach for now, but we’re getting closer: physicists just packed 10 qubits on to one superconducting circuit, marking a new record in the march towards next-generation computing. While researchers have previously linked up to 51 qubits in the same computer, this is a new record for the number of entangled qubits …

This icky creature is the deepest ocean fish humans have ever seen

Life’s tough 8,000 metres (26,000 feet) beneath the ocean’s surface. The pressure is 800 times that on the surface, the temperature is just above freezing, and there’s zero light. Which is a good thing for this new record-holder for ‘world’s deepest fish’ – because the newly discovered Mariana snailfish (Pseudoliparis swirei) really isn’t much to look at. “They don’t look …

When it comes to dog vs cat brains, it looks like we have a clear winner

Ever since humanity split into dog and cat people, we’ve been arguing over which one of our beloved companions is a smarter species. This latest study mightn’t be the last word on the matter, but for those who think more neurons means more intelligence, it looks as if dogs stand out among carnivores for having a remarkably dense cerebral cortex. …

Some people can’t see any pictures in their imagination, and here’s why

Imagine an apple floating in front of you. Now see if you can rotate it around in your mind. Look at it from the top, bottom – does it have any blemishes? How clearly can you see it? Some people see the apple perfectly, like watching a movie, while others have a very poor wavering image. Although it might be …

Astronomers think they’ve cracked the mystery of humongous ‘hot Jupiters’

The study of extra-solar planets has revealed some fantastic and fascinating things. Of the thousands of planets discovered so far, many have been much larger than their Solar counterparts. For instance, most of the gas giants that have been observed orbiting closely to their stars (aka “Hot Jupiters”) have been similar in mass to Jupiter or Saturn, but have also …

The Flat Earth Society just responded to Elon Musk’s tweet and we’re confused

Flat-Earthers are having one heck of a week. Not only is one of these deniers of terrestrial sphericalness about to embark on a most audacious experiment, but they’ve now come to the attention of none other than Elon Musk. The Tesla and SpaceX chief has a bit of a vested interest in the shape of planets – given he wants …

Bone study reveals prehistoric women had insanely strong arms

The arm bones of women who lived 7,000 years ago show an incredible level of strength – even higher than today’s elite athletes. That’s according to a first-ever study comparing prehistoric bones to those of living people. The finding suggests a revision of history – the everyday lives of prehistoric women were filled with hard manual labour, rather than just …

The world is stuck on eating the same few crops, and that’s really bad for us all

One day last March I talked with Juliana and Elisa, a mother and daughter who farmed just outside the city of Huánuco, Peru. Although they had only one acre of land in this mountainous landscape, they grew dozens of local varieties of potatoes and corn, along with other crops. And they knew each of their varieties by a common name …

NASA astronaut has captured what he sees on Earth while doing a spacewalk

On its surface, Earth is chaos. It is traffic jams and the threat of nuclear war and fake news operations trying to punk real ones but owning themselves spectacularly in the process. But launch yourself a couple hundred miles above the atmosphere, and Earth seems a different world. It is quiet. It is harmonious. The strife of human conflict, no …

10 surprisingly easy things you can do right now to help the planet

It’s easy to feel hopeless. Earth’s climate continues to smash record after record, plastic will outweigh fish in the oceans by 2050, and new species are already endangered before we even identify them.   It seems like no matter how many reusable shopping bags we take to the grocery store, our actions pale in comparison to the impact of big …

This new battery material uses graphene to charge 5 times faster

The Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) has developed new battery material, made from a “graphene ball,” which could potentially deliver charging speeds five times faster than today’s lithium-ion batteries. Samsung announced the new material in a press release this past Wednesday, November 28. But just how fast is this new material? Well, in theory, this graphene ball material only …

New semi-synthetic organism can make molecules we’ve never seen before

Scientists have expanded the building blocks of DNA to create a stable semi-synthetic organism that can produce biological compounds entirely new to nature. The DNA that makes up essentially all living things on Earth consists of arrangements of four basic amino acids, but the new life-form developed by researchers in the US makes use of six – and that’s where …

NASA has literally reinvented the wheel to improve future Mars missions

Mars chews up our wheels and spits them out. Take NASA’s one-ton, car-size, nuclear-powered Mars Curiosity robot: After just a year of cautious 0.09-mile-per-hour (144 metres) roving, small rocks began ripping large holes in its tyres. However, NASA engineers have reinvented the wheel into a form that may one day conquer Mars. They have created a nearly invincible tyre made …

Latest DNA analysis shows the Yeti are actually just a bunch of bears

The Yeti of the mountains of Asia, hairy like a white ape, yet bipedal and standing taller than a man, is numbered among the world’s most beloved cryptids. Yet, for all the eyewitness accounts, physical evidence of the beast is proving tricky to pin down. Nary a fossil, nor a corpse. But, like its American cousin Bigfoot, pieces of hair …

This crazy twist on black holes says there was no Big Bang

A physicist from the University of Campinas in Brazil isn’t a big fan of the idea that time started with a so-called Big Bang. Instead, Juliano César Silva Neves imagines a collapse followed by an expansion, one that could even still carry the scars of a previous timeline. The idea itself isn’t new, but Neves has used a fifty-year-old mathematical …

Living bacteria “from outer space” have been found on the outside of the ISS

Scientists on board the International Space Station (ISS) have discovered living bacteria clinging to the orbital facility’s external surface, according to a prominent Russian cosmonaut. Anton Shkaplerov, who will return to the ISS next month, says cotton swabs wiped over the exterior of the station’s Russian segment revealed an unidentified life-form that has already been sent back to Earth for …

Physicists just invented an essential component needed for quantum computers

In 2016, the Nobel Prize in Physics went to three British scientists for their work on superconductors and superfluids, which included the explanation of a rather odd phase of matter. Now, for the first time, their discovery has a practical application – shrinking an electrical component to a size that will help quantum computers reach a scale that just might …

Scientists have discovered that the tomb of Jesus Christ is far older than people thought

The tomb in which Jesus Christ is believed to be buried is older than everybody thought, scientists have revealed. Tests run on the remains of a limestone cave in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem have dated the tomb to around 345 BCE, National Geographic reported on Tuesday. The cave, the oldest architectural remnant on the site, is …

These ‘soft robots’ with origami muscles can lift 1,000 times their own weight

Humans have soft muscles and rigid skeletons, and when exerted in optimal sync they have the potential to lift a fairly impressive amount of weight. But a new technique, created by humans, that uses soft muscles and rigid skeletons allows a device to lift 1,000 times its own weight. This is a major development – while soft robotics have exhibited …

Here’s Why You Should Never Throw Out Those Annoying Silica Sachets Again

Anyone who’s ever bought a new electronic device or pair of shoes will be all too familiar with those little “DO NOT EAT” sachets that come in the box. Most of us have a vague idea that they’re somehow keeping our products fresh, but toss them as soon as the box is open without a second thought. But it turns …

Babies who get more cuddles have their genetics changed for years, study shows

The amount of close and comforting contact that young infants get doesn’t just keep them warm, snug, and loved. A new study says it can actually affect babies at the molecular level, and the effects can last for years. Based on the study, babies who get less physical contact and are more distressed at a young age, end up with …

This scientist wants to send building blocks of life to distant exoplanets

A German theoretical physicist has proposed a modification to the first-ever interstellar spacecraft that would allow it to decelerate enough to orbit an exoplanet and potentially seed a second Earth. However, the 12,000-year-long transit time could make garnering support for the mission difficult. For the past 30 years, popular opinion about where in space humans should go next has swayed …

Our love for fried food could have a surprising effect on the weather

Thanksgiving revelers who deep fried their turkeys may have had a measurable effect on more than just their scales. According to a team of European researchers, the use of deep fryers could be making cities cloudier. Research released Thanksgiving day in the journal Nature Communications details how fatty acids that get released into the air when food is fried coat …

Research shows that earthworms can thrive even in Mars soil

Good news, aspiring Martian farmers! The soil composition of Mars oughtn’t hinder earthworm reproduction, if experiments here on Earth are any indication. Using simulated Mars soil developed by NASA, researchers added rucola (also known as rocket or arugula) plants, manure fertiliser and earthworms – and found that not only did the worms thrive, but they’ve now produced their first offspring. …

A buried cache of 2,300 year-old Iron Age artefacts has been discovered in the UK

It’s now the site of an upcoming large-scale warehouse development, but 2,300 years ago, a patch of land in the UK was where Iron Age settlers held community ceremonies and feasts. Archaeologists have unearthed a unique collection of metal artefacts at a site in Leicestershire, and some of those objects are one-of-a-kind discoveries for the entire region. While excavating the …

There’s a scientific reason to speak, not write, to those who disagree with you

There may be more to the phrase “the voice of reason” than meets the ear. When it comes to controversial ideas, a person’s voice is more persuasive than the written word, according to a new study. In The Humanising Voice: Speech Can Reveal, and Text Conceal, The Presence of a Thoughtful Mind in The Midst of Disagreement in a recent …

How to prove Earth isn’t flat without building a dangerous homemade rocket

Could 2,000 years of belief be wrong? Are we in fact living on a disc rather than a globe? One believer from the Flat Earth Society is determined to find out. “Mad” Mike Hughes is all set to build his own rocket to see for himself that Earth is flat. For the last 50 years, we’ve been able to view …

Scientists have worked out how to build fire extinguishers into batteries

You really don’t want your smartphone or smart car going up in flames due to an overheating battery. Now scientists have figured out how to embed a flame-extinguishing chemical into standard batteries to stop this from happening. As safe as modern-day batteries are built to be, there’s always a small fire risk if the device isn’t handled properly or hasn’t …

This horrifyingly huge wasp nest will haunt your nightmares

Wasps build their homes out of chewed-up vegetable fibre, painstakingly glued together until it resembles a papery stack of recycled carton. You’d think there’s only so much fibre they can chew and stitch together with their tiny mouthparts. Wrong. According to a video recently uploaded by a brave exterminator in Louisiana, wasp-cities can grow to humongous, absolutely sickening proportions. And …

An incredibly rare black rhino has been born at an Australian zoo

Australia’s Taronga Western Plains Zoo has a new resident – a new baby black rhino, born to mum Bakhita and dad Kwanzaa. Born on Halloween, the new calf is yet to be named, but he’s the second black rhino calf the zoo has welcomed this year as part of its concerted black rhino breeding program. “We are very happy with …

Turtles breathe through their butts to survive in frozen ponds

To breathe or not to breathe, that is the question. What would happen if you were submerged in a pond where the water temperature hovered just above freezing and the surface was capped by a lid of ice for 100 days? Well, obviously you’d die. And that’s because you’re not as cool as a turtle. And by cool I don’t …

Physicists just smashed a record for measuring a fundamental proton feature

An international team of scientists employed highly precise methods to uncover the most exact measurement of the magnetic moment of protons. They found it to be 2.79284734462, plus-or-minus 0.00000000082 nuclear magnetons (the typical unit for measuring this property). The magnetic moment is a property of particles that is a prerequisite for magnetism, and applied to protons, it embodies a fundamental …

Flat-Earther’s plan to launch himself in homemade rocket just hit a problem

A California man who planned to launch himself 1,800 feet (550 metres) high Saturday in a homemade scrap-metal rocket – in an effort to prove that Earth is flat – said he is postponing the experiment after he couldn’t get permission from a federal agency to conduct it on public land. Instead, Mike Hughes said the launch will take place …

Do fish have feelings? What science says about animal sentience

There seems to be significant confusion about what happened in the British parliament when MPs discussed a proposed amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill to formally recognise animal sentience. But where science is concerned, animal sentience is in no doubt. The definition of sentient is simply “able to perceive or feel things”. Today most of us would probably also say …

Oil and gas industry is causing Texas earthquakes, landmark study suggests

An unnatural number of earthquakes hit Texas in the past decade, and the region’s seismic activity is increasing. In 2008, two earthquakes stronger than magnitude 3 struck the state. Eight years later, 12 did. Natural forces trigger most earthquakes. But humans are causing earthquakes, too, with mining and dam construction the most frequent suspects. There has been a recent increase …

Research finds it might not be consciousness that drives the human mind

Everyone knows what it feels like to have consciousness: it’s that self-evident sense of personal awareness, which gives us a feeling of ownership and control over the thoughts, emotions and experiences that we have every day. Most experts think that consciousness can be divided into two parts: the experience of consciousness (or personal awareness), and the contents of consciousness, which …

This is how every type of alcohol affects your mood, according to science

A new study has analysed how different types of alcohol cause different emotional responses in both men and women. The study by BMJ Open questioned almost 30,000 people from 21 countries across the world. Each respondent drank different types of wine, spirits, and beer on different occasions and catalogued how the different types of alcohol affected their mood and emotions. …

The evidence is building that our teeth evolved from fish skin

The gnashers inside your mouth may well have originated as fish scales, according to new research that found the same type of cells that human teeth have in the thorny scales of the little skate fish. These neural crest cells were spotted using fluorescent markers to track cells inside the embryo of a little skate, one of the cartilaginous fish …

Astronomers want to send a probe to that interstellar asteroid, but there’s a catch

It’s not every day that an asteroid from outside the Solar System comes whizzing past your front door. In fact, it’s only ever happened once that we’ve observed, when astronomers spotted interstellar asteroid ‘Oumuamua in October. Now a collective of astronomers and engineers wants to seize the opportunity to study ‘Oumuamua – by chasing after it with a rocket. They’ve …

British water firms are using discredited pseudoscience to look for pipes

When the parents of Sally Le Page, a British evolutionary biologist, tried to get help from their local water company with installing a new pipe, they were greeted with a bizarre sight. “My parents couldn’t believe their eyes,” Le Page wrote in a blog post, “when they saw the man from [the company] Severn Trent slowly walking around holding two …

Physicists just found a loophole in graphene that could unlock clean, limitless energy

By all measures, graphene shouldn’t exist. The fact it does comes down to a neat loophole in physics that sees an impossible 2D sheet of atoms act like a solid 3D material. New research has delved into graphene’s rippling, discovering a physical phenomenon on an atomic scale that could be exploited as a way to produce a virtually limitless supply …

99% of ocean plastic waste is invisible, but this method could help find it

The oceans are full of plastic. We know it, and we know it’s a big problem. What we don’t know is precisely how big the problem is. A fluorescent dye could help scope out the tiniest pieces of garbage in our marine environments, allowing researchers to map oceanic waste in unprecedented detail and just maybe help us find solutions to …

A new bird species has evolved on Galapagos and scientists watched it happen

For the first time, scientists have been able to observe something amazing: the evolution of a completely new species, in the wild, in real-time. And it took just two generations. Now, genomic sequencing and the analysis of physical characteristics have confirmed the new species of Darwin’s finch, endemic to a small island called Daphne Major in the Galápagos. Its discoverers …

Here’s the real science behind the unreal predictions of major earthquakes in 2018

Rebecca Bendick would like you to not panic. The University of Montana geophysicist knows you may have read the articles warning about “swarms of devastating earthquakes” that will allegedly rock the planet next year thanks to a slowdown of the Earth’s rotation. And she feels “very awful” if you’ve been alarmed. Those dire threats are based on Bendick’s research into …

Elon Musk just met that 100-day deadline to get Australia a giant Tesla battery

Elon Musk will get paid for building the world’s largest lithium ion battery in South Australia, with testing on the 100-megawatt project about to begin ahead of next week’s December 1 deadline to build it in 100 days, or it’s free. State premier Jay Weatherill announced today that regulatory testing at the site, which is paired with French energy business …