Nature

These bright orange crocodiles could be evolving into a new species

Orange dwarf crocodiles living in the caves of central Africa could be evolving into a new and separate species, say scientists, giving us a fascinating look at animal adaptation happening before our very eyes.   These creatures, discovered in Gabon in 2008, are already strange enough – living in the darkness, feeding off bats and crickets, and with an orange …


Nature

California is overdue for another massive earthquake, scientists say

California earthquakes are a geologic inevitability. The state straddles the North American and Pacific tectonic plates and is crisscrossed by the San Andreas and other active fault systems. The magnitude 7.9 earthquake that struck off Alaska’s Kodiak Island on 23 January 2018 was just the latest reminder of major seismic activity along the Pacific Rim.   Tragic quakes that occurred …


Scientists are drilling holes in Antarctica’s largest ice shelf to explore the ocean beneath

Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf is the world’s largest floating slab of ice: It’s about the size of Spain, and nearly a kilometre (about 0.6 miles) thick. The ocean beneath, roughly the volume of the North Sea, is one of the most important but least understood parts of the climate system.   We are part of the multi-disciplinary Aotearoa New Zealand …

Scientist claims US lab engineered ‘humanzee’ human-chimp hybrid 100 years ago

A prominent US scientist has claimed researchers in Florida succeeded in breeding a human-chimp hybrid called a ‘humanzee’ in controversial, long-rumoured 1920s research. Evolutionary psychologist Gordon G. Gallup, Jr., who achieved renown for his pioneering mirror self-recognition experiments with animals in the 1970s, says a former university professor told him the hybrid creature was born at an animal research laboratory …

Earth went strangely quiet about 2 billion years ago and we don’t know why

A new study has added evidence to the hypothesis that our planet experienced a lull in geology between 2.2 and 2.3 billion years ago, when not a lot went on as far as rock-forming processes go.   The relatively dormant phase in our planet’s history signals a significant change in tectonics, one that is fuelling discussion on exactly how continents …

Here’s how to watch tonight’s super blue blood moon without leaving your house

The world is about to witness a “super blue blood moon” on Wednesday morning, the first since September 2015. During this astronomical event, the full Moon will appear to turn red (a “blood moon”) as it travels through the ruddy shadow of Earth.   The total lunar eclipse will look slightly larger than normal (a “supermoon“), since the Moon is …

German carmakers exposed monkeys and humans to diesel fumes in secret tests

Controversy has erupted after reports revealed German carmakers have collaborated on experiments in which monkeys and human participants were intentionally exposed to toxic diesel fumes.   The secret experiments, which took place in both the US and Germany, were part of a ‘clean diesel’ research initiative funded by Volkswagen, the world’s largest automaker, with BMW and Daimler. Public outcry over …

Earth’s magnetic poles are overdue for a switch and we’re not prepared

Earth’s magnetic field is pretty adept at flipping polarity. The poles have swapped, reversing north and south, many times over the planet’s history. Within the last 20 million years, Earth has fallen into the pattern of pole reversal every 200,000 to 300,000 years, and between successful swaps, the poles sometimes even attempt to reverse and then snap back into place. …

These crows have figured out how to safely eat poisonous toads

Give a corvid a conundrum and it won’t stay stymied long – the long-beaked birds have legendary problem-solving skills. In fact, they’re so clever that Australian crows have even figured out a way to eat poisonous cane toads.   The cane toad, Rhinella marina, a species native to south and central America, was brought to Australia in 1935 in an attempt …

AI may have finally decoded the bizarre, mysterious ‘Voynich manuscript’

For centuries, it’s been the book no human can understand, but we may finally now be able to read it – thanks to machines invented a half-millennia after it was written. The Voynich manuscript, often called the world’s most mysterious book, consists of some 240 pages of cryptic text written in an intricate, unknown language, accompanied by strange diagrams and …

Huge dinosaur uncovered in Egypt reveals the lost link between Africa and Europe

Africa was once populated by huge, unique dinosaur species. But scientists know very little about what they were like, what happened to them, and how they’re related to the dinosaurs found across Asia.    That’s why a spectacular new find in Egypt has palaeontologists buzzing. In Egypt’s Sahara Desert, an expedition with the Mansoura University Vertebrate Palaeontology (MUVP) initiative has …

This superconducting switch could be the missing piece for a human-like AI brain

A new superconducting switch could soon enable computers to make decisions very similarly to the way we do, essentially turning them into artificial brains. One day, this new technology could underpin advanced artificial intelligence (AI) systems that may become part of our everyday life, from transportation to medicine.   Researchers at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) …

This superconducting switch could be the missing piece for a human-like AI brain

A new superconducting switch could soon enable computers to make decisions very similarly to the way we do, essentially turning them into artificial brains. One day, this new technology could underpin advanced artificial intelligence (AI) systems that may become part of our everyday life, from transportation to medicine.   Researchers at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) …

Scientists are figuring out how to get astronauts to eat their own poop

Taking food up to space is costly, and growing food in orbit is difficult and time-consuming, which is why scientists are looking at the possibility of converting astronaut poop back into something edible.   The thought may make you want to reach for the sick bag, but such a scheme could mean the difference between exploring the Universe or being …

Mosquitoes are much better at learning than we ever suspected

A graphic from Bill Gates’ blog clearly illustrates that the mosquito causes more deaths per year than any other animal on the planet. This killer insect has a nasty reputation for spreading the disease around the globe, prompting what some have called The War on Mosquitoes. A recent experiment could be a turning point in this battle, as it equips us …

Mitochondria within cells could be way hotter than the rest of our bodies

Your body is hot. Depending on the time of day, and where the thermometer is placed, it runs somewhere between 35 to 38 degrees Celsius, or 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Little organs called mitochondria, slotted into your cells like batteries in a TV clicker, produce most of this body heat. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell, as biologist …

This insanely colourful millipede can casually take down 18 adult birds

A newly discovered millipede has more colour combinations than any other millipede ever discovered – but its bright and striking colouring is a warning that attempting to dine on the arthropod may be biting off more than one can chew.   The multi-legged creature is called Apheloria polychroma. The species is found on the forest floor of Southwest Virginia’s Cumberland Mountains, …

This amazing fossil shows world’s earliest birds evolved just like Darwin’s finches

The world’s earliest known bird genus, Archaeopteryx, is only understood thanks to a small handful of fossils. A new find from Northern Bavaria is the oldest one yet, harking back 150 million years – and it may also shed some light on how the animal evolved.   Fossils of the bird were first discovered in the 1860s, and to date …

Astronomers are outraged over this “space garbage” ball just launched into orbit

Earlier this month, the New Zealand-based private spaceflight company Rocket Lab successfully delivered its first orbital payload. Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket released, along with three commercial satellites, an art installation-as-satellite called the Humanity Star.   The satellite, a highly reflective 65-faced ball crafted of carbon fiber, will orbit Earth for nine months. Around October, its orbit will decay, and the …

Here’s everything you need to know about the total supermoon eclipse of Jan 31

During the early hours of January 31, there will be a full Moon, a total lunar eclipse, a blue moon and a supermoon – all at the same time. None of these things is really all that unusual by itself. What is rare is that they’re happening all together on one day.   What makes the Moon look full? Like …

The complete guide to 2018’s best meteor showers

This year gets off to a relatively slow start when it comes to seeing the annual major meteor showers. The Quadrantids, one of the big three annual showers, are lost to the vagaries of the full Moon in early January.   But the year’s other two most active annual showers – the Perseids (in August) and Geminids (in December) – …

These burnt bears healed amazingly fast thanks to a weird type of bandage

When Jamie Peyton first examined the bears’ paws last month, she figured they might take six months to heal. Peyton, a veterinarian at the University of California at Davis, had treated cats and dogs with burns before, and she knew these were severe.   The two female black bears in her care had survived the Thomas wildfire that swept through …

This Might Be The Strongest And Lightest Material on Earth

For years, researchers have known that carbon, when arranged in a certain way, can be very strong. Case in point: graphene. Graphene, which was heretofore, the strongest material known to man, is made from an extremely thin sheet of carbon atoms arranged in two dimensions.   But there’s one drawback: while notable for its thinness and unique electrical properties, it’s very difficult …

This Might Be The Strongest And Lightest Material on Earth

For years, researchers have known that carbon, when arranged in a certain way, can be very strong. Case in point: graphene. Graphene, which was heretofore, the strongest material known to man, is made from an extremely thin sheet of carbon atoms arranged in two dimensions.   But there’s one drawback: while notable for its thinness and unique electrical properties, it’s very difficult …

Results Suggest Human Consciousness Could Be a Side Effect of ‘Entropy’

It’s impressive enough that our human brains are made up of the same ‘star stuff‘ that forms the Universe, but new research suggests that this might not be the only thing the two have in common.   Just like the Universe, our brains might be programmed to maximise disorder – similar to the principle of entropy – and our consciousness …

6 Deceptively Simple Mathematics Problems No One Can Figure Out

We all know that maths is really hard. So hard, in fact, that there’s literally a whole Wikipedia page dedicated to unsolved mathematical problems, despite some of the greatest minds in the world working on them around the clock.   But as Avery Thompson points out at Popular Mechanics, from the outset at least, some of these problems seem surprisingly …

A multi-planet system has been discovered entirely through crowdsourcing

Through a project called Exoplanet Explorers, a band of citizen scientists has discovered K2-138, a far-off planetary system that houses least five exoplanets. This is the first time that a multi-planet system has been discovered entirely through crowdsourcing.   UC Santa Cruz astronomer Ian Crossfield and Caltech staff scientist Jessie Christiansen launched the Exoplanet Explorers project on the online platform …

The Great Pyramid of Giza Is Actually Lopsided

It’s one of the most fascinating and well-built structures in existence, but researchers have shown that the Great Pyramid of Giza is actually lopsided, thanks to an error builders made during construction some 4,500 years ago.   This error has led to the west side of the pyramid being slightly longer than the east side, creating a base that isn’t …

We could soon get lasers powerful enough to literally rip emptiness apart

Lasers powerful enough to tear the fabric of matter itself are being developed in a special laboratory in China, potentially giving scientists the chance to create and study experimental environments unlike anything we have on Earth.   The stats behind these lasers are impressive: One has already reached a peak of 5.3 million billion watts or petawatts (PW), which is …

Climate change is revealing thousands of historical relics trapped in Norway’s glaciers

One of the consequences of a warming planet is receding glaciers, and archaeologists working on ice sheets on highest peaks of Norway have discovered a treasure trove of artefacts dating back as far as 4000 BCE.   They include clothes, weaponry, and even ancient skis, and more than 2,000 relics have been recovered from the Jotunheimen area and the surrounding …

The world’s rarest fish just doubled in known population

They say there are plenty of fish in the sea, but to be perfectly honest with you, that’s not always entirely true. Take the red handfish (Thymichthys politus), for instance. This extremely rare fish – thought to be the world’s rarest, in fact – is so scarce that up until last week, scientists knew of only one population, numbering between …

Elon Musk’s huge battery in South Australia made $1 million in profit in just a few days

On December 1, Tesla’s 100MW battery system went online in South Australia after meeting founder Elon Musk’s self-imposed 100-day construction deadline. In the weeks since, the massive battery system has seemingly lived up to its potential as a reliable source of clean energy.   When a coal plant tripped on December 14, Tesla’s Australian battery stepped up within milliseconds to …

Here’s the science behind why teenagers make such bad decisions

From getting beyond drunk at a friend’s party, to some seriously questionable outfit choices, teenagers often do things that seem outlandishly stupid. But we now know why: the areas of the brain that control decision-making don’t fully develop until early adulthood.   A teen’s developing brain places them at greater risk of being reactive in their decision-making, and less able …

This astrophysicist just proposed a new limit on the definition of “planet”

As our stargazing abilities grow ever more advanced, astronomers have been finding more and more extrasolar planets. But there’s a lot of stuff swirling out in the Universe that falls somewhere in between, and one astrophysicist is calling for a formal definition on what being a planet really means.   We know what makes a planet within the Solar System, …

A human fossil has just been confirmed as the oldest found outside of Africa

A skull fragment discovered in a cave in Israel over a decade ago has now been dated using several different testing methods to an age of between 177,000 and 194,000 years old, setting a new record in world’s oldest human fossil outside of Africa.   While DNA analysis on modern human populations has hinted that we’ve been swanning about outside …

Never-before-seen viruses with weird DNA were just discovered in the ocean

The ocean is crowded. As many as 10 million viruses can be found squirming in a single millilitre of its water, and it turns out they have friends we never even knew about. Scientists have discovered a previously unknown family of viruses that dominate the ocean and can’t be detected by standard lab tests. Researchers suspect this viral multitude may …

Our eye movements also move eardrums, and nobody knows why

If you stick a tiny microphone inside the ear canal, you can discover that our eardrums actually move in conjunction with eye movement. This bizarre finding has been verified in both humans and rhesus monkeys, but the researchers are not sure why this is happening.   The study, led by a team of neuroscientists from Duke University, was set up …

If you had a human head transplant, would you still be yourself?

Sergio Canavero is adamant that human head transplants will work. In fact, he claims that he could complete such a transplant within a year, and he says that he has the science to back it up. But does he?   Towards the end of 2017, Canavero’s project made headlines when the Italian surgeon claimed that he had actually already performed …

These Star Wars-like 3D projections are more epic than any hologram you’ve ever seen

Holograms are pretty cool, sure. But they’re still just two-dimensional projections that hover in the air, and as soon as you step to the side, the magic disappears, revealing how flat the thing really is.   But now researchers from Brigham Young University have demonstrated they can create fully three-dimensional projections of moving images – and they use light and particles …

Amateur flat-Earther who wants to prove his crazy theory is back with a new rocket

Even NASA had disasters with its moon missions, so was it really fair to expect Mike Hughes to build a rocket, fly to space, and prove once and for all that the Earth is flat without a few hitches along the way?   Hughes – a 61-year-old daredevil-turned-rocket-maker-turned-round-Earth-skeptic – intends to launch himself 52 miles into the sky by the …

Mars may have lost a lot of its water in massive, devastating dust storms

The surface of Mars is dry and arid now, but scientists suspect that wasn’t always the case – which raises the question of where all that water went. A new study suggests huge dust storms played a role in whipping all the moisture out of the Martian atmosphere.   Based on an analysis of a major dust storm that hit …

Devastating volcanic eruptions will be more common in the future, scientists warn

A strong volcanic eruption in the Philippines forced over 50,000 people to evacuate and sent ash plumes over a mile into the sky on Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, an eruption at a Japanese ski resort north of Tokyo caused avalanches that killed one person and trapped many others on the mountain.   These powerful volcanic events may be examples of what the world …

Here’s why you should never, ever bite a smartphone battery

You know that smartphone batteries can be pretty dangerous things, right? Like, with all the fuss about those exploding Samsungs a little while back, surely people got the message that these unpredictable and potentially incendiary components aren’t something to mess around with?   Well, in case you forgot about all that hoopla, maybe this insane footage of a man biting …

Here’s why you should never, ever bite a smartphone battery

You know that smartphone batteries can be pretty dangerous things, right? Like, with all the fuss about those exploding Samsungs a little while back, surely people got the message that these unpredictable and potentially incendiary components aren’t something to mess around with?   Well, in case you forgot about all that hoopla, maybe this insane footage of a man biting …

This NASA probe will fly closer to the Sun than anything ever before

Shortly after NASA was established in 1958, the nation’s top scientists compiled a list of missions they thought the brand-new space agency should pursue. The proposals were heady, considering at that point only three satellites had ever been launched.   Researchers suggested an Earth-orbiting telescope that could detect the universe’s most distant stars, probes that would venture to the solar …

Solar energy now creates more jobs in America than any other industry

Solar energy isn’t just a tool to reduce emissions and help slow climate change – it’s a job creator. According to the most recent National Solar Jobs Census published by The Solar Foundation, the industry creates more jobs than any other sector in the US.   According to the census, solar energy adds jobs 17 times faster than the overall …