Nature

A totally new species of tardigrade was just discovered in a Japanese carpark

They’re the weirdest organisms known to science: unkillable critters that can turn into glass and survive the cold vacuum of space. But sometimes tardigrades just want to take a breather, you know? Chill for a bit in more comfortable surroundings. Which is how scientists discovered a whole new species of them living in moss on the concrete surface of a …


Nature

Scientists have found the reason why magic mushrooms evolved to be so ‘magical’

The way psilocybin goes to work on the brain of a fly could provide an explanation for why several different species of mushroom all evolved to contain the exact same compound.   Although it causes hallucinations in humans, psilocybin could be tricking insects into losing their appetite – making it a protective mechanism against being eaten by an hungry invertebrate. …


The North Pole has gone above freezing in the dead of winter, stunning scientists

The sun won’t rise at the North Pole until March 20, and it’s normally close to the coldest time of year – but an extraordinary and possibly historic thaw swelled over the tip of the planet this weekend.   Analyses show that the temperature warmed to the melting point as an enormous storm pumped an intense pulse of heat through …

Drop everything and watch this Shaolin monk puncture glass by throwing a needle

There are apparently 72 arts you need to master as a Shaolin monk, and according to the accomplished masters in this video, being able to throw a needle hard enough to pierce a sheet of glass is among the hardest skills to conquer.   We’ll take their word on it. But to be truly impressed by this feat, you really …

Enceladus has everything it needs to host alien life, and we’re so excited

Life as we know it needs three things: energy, water and chemistry. Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus has them all, as NASA spacecraft Cassini confirmed in the final years of its mission to that planet.   While Cassini explored the Saturnian neighborhood, its sensors detected gas geysers that spewed from Enceladus’s southern poles. Within those plumes exists a chemical buffet of …

Humans will hear from aliens this century, says renowned physicist

One of the world’s most respected theoretical physicists Michio Kaku has predicted that humans will make contact with an alien civilisation within this century. While he doesn’t know if we’ll be able to talk back to them by then, Kaku thinks that humans will detect aliens before 2100 by listening in to their radio communications.   He gave the prediction …

Our best hope for surviving the apocalypse just hit a stunning milestone

The Global Seed Vault – an insurance policy against potential global doomsday scenarios – celebrated its 10th anniversary on Monday by receiving a shipment of more than 76,000 seed samples.   This brings the vault’s library to a total number of 1,059,646 botanical specimens since it opened in 2008. Set inside a mountain on the island Svalbard halfway between Norway …

Physicists just stuffed an atom full of atoms and created a brand new state of matter

An international team of scientists have provided the first proof of an exotic new state of matter, known as Rydberg polarons. This state of matter is formed at ultra cold temperatures, when an electron orbits its nucleus at such a great distance that other atoms end up bound inside the orbit. All these atoms form a weak bond that generate …

China’s new hypersonic plane could take us from Beijing to New York in 2 hours

Global powers are pushing flight faster. With Japan looking to reintroduce supersonic speeds to aircraft, China has joined several US companies in working on aircraft capable of achieving hypersonic speeds – and they’re relatively far along.   Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing successfully tested their “I Plane” (named because it resembles a capital ‘I’ when viewed …

MIT engineers have built a device that pulls electricity out of thin air

Temperature changes large and small are happening around us all the time, and scientists have come up with a machine that can convert those fluctuations into electricity, potentially powering sensors and communication devices almost out of thin air.   The energy harvesting is done through what’s called a thermal resonator: a device that captures heat on one side and radiates …

World’s deadliest treasure hunt has claimed another life in the Rocky Mountains

An eccentric millionaire. A mysterious poem of clues. US$2 million of hidden gold. A trail of bodies who perished seeking their fortune. The plot has all the elements of a time-worn adventure story, but the search for Forrest Fenn’s buried treasure is all too real – even if the actual treasure may not be – as the families of four …

This strange species that lives off nuclear energy is like alien life on Earth

When you’re trying to figure out what alien life might look like, it makes sense to be looking in the most extreme environments Earth has available. One such place where life has been found to thrive is three kilometres (1.86 miles) beneath the ground, the home of one of the strangest lifeforms we know: the bacterium Desulforudis audaxviator.   It lives …

A Stanford climate scientist just dropped a major lawsuit against his critics

A Stanford University professor who has argued that the US can power itself entirely with renewable energy by the middle of the century, said Thursday that he’s withdrawing a multimillion-dollar libel suit he brought against an academic critic.   Mark Jacobson’s announcement came shortly after a hearing in the lawsuit in a DC court this week. Last year, Jacobson sued Christopher Clack, lead author …

Science reveals there are surprising benefits of being a pessimist

How many times have you been told that something great will happen as long as you believe it is possible? From pop psychology books to self-improvement seminars and blogs, there’s a lot of hype surrounding the advantages of positive thinking.   And there’s certainly some evidence behind it – a large body of work suggests that being optimistic reaps a …

Video showing the acceleration of Tesla’s electric truck is breathtaking

In Elon Musk’s future, you’ll never have to change lanes to avoid being stuck behind a truck at the lights again. Here’s some more footage of someone having an excellent time testing Tesla’s electric truck in a residential area recently:     You might notice the hammer goes down as soon as the driver hits the 25mph (40km/h) zone. And …

The physics of why Olympic curlers sweep the ice

Curling is one of the more unusual sports of the Winter Olympics, often drawing comparisons to shuffleboard, but played on ice. A roughly 42-pound curling rock, or stone, is pushed then slides down a sheet of ice, while two players furiously sweep the surface in front of the stone. The sweeping motion heats up the ice, causing it to become …

New study shows just how close the Amazon rainforest is to the brink of collapse

The world’s forests are shrinking. For years, they’ve withstood a multitude of human impact. But according to a new study published in the journal Science Advances, they may be reaching a crisis point.   If deforestation goes beyond 20 percent of its original spread, the Amazon Rainforest will have reached the “point of no return”. In the study, Thomas Lovejoy …

Physicists Have Confirmed a Pear-Shaped Nucleus, And It Could Ruin Time Travel Forever

Physicists have confirmed the existence of a new form of atomic nuclei, and the fact that it’s not symmetrical challenges the fundamental theories of physics that explain our Universe.   But that’s not as bad as it sounds, because the 2016 discovery could help scientists solve one of the biggest mysteries in theoretical physics – where is all the dark …

Europe is bracing for the most severe cold snap in years

Computer model forecasts are advertising a bout of bitter cold to sweep over Europe over the next several days, very possibly the most extreme of the winter and perhaps in several years.   “The well anticipated most widespread #cold temperatures across northern Eurasia since #winter 2013 is imminent,” tweeted Judah Cohen, a meteorologist at Atmospheric and Environmental Research, a weather …

The FCC’s vote repealing its net neutrality rules is finally official

The FCC’s net neutrality vote has finally been published in the Federal Register, the government’s official record of all administrative actions. The moment is key, because it kicks off the next phase of the fight over the future of the Internet. Here’s what to expect.   In December, the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal its net neutrality rules for …

Apple devices are accidentally dialing emergency and no one can figure out why

An Apple repair and refurbishment center in Elk Grove, California, has placed about 1,600 accidental calls to 911 over the past four months – and it’s not at all clear why. Jason Jimenez, public information officer at the Elk Grove Police Department, confirmed a report from CBS13 in Sacramento that emergency dispatchers have been fielding about 20 of the calls …

We could have two Space Hotels as Early as 2021

Since its founding in 1999, Bigelow Aerospace has focused on building inflatable space modules that provide habitats in low-Earth orbit with more breathing room. Now, the Las Vegas-based space company has launched Bigelow Space Operations (BSO), a spinoff venture dedicated to marketing and operating these inflatable space habitats, which could be used as space hotels.   According to a BSO …

There’s a ‘Doorway to The Underworld’ in Siberia That’s So Big It’s Uncovered Ancient Forests

It’s no secret that Siberia’s permafrost is on thin ice. Conditions are varying so much that huge holes are appearing out of nowhere, and, in some places, tundra is quite literally bubbling underneath people’s feet.   But one of the biggest craters in the region, known by the local Yakutian people as the ‘doorway to the underworld’, is growing so …

These are the top 15 deadliest animals on Earth

The world’s deadliest animal isn’t a shark or even a human. Drawing from a graphic from Bill Gates’ blog, we decided to rank the world’s deadliest animals. Most of the deaths caused by animals, it turns out, have less to do with the animals themselves than the diseases they unwittingly transmit.   Note that some numbers are harder to get an accurate …

Latest Estimate on The Universe’s Expansion Shows We Need New Physics to Explain It

Astronomers have come up with the most precise measurement of the Universe’s expansion rate so far – and sure enough, it still appears to be accelerating. The increasing speed shouldn’t come as a shock – we’ve suspected it for a while. What this measurement does is reduce the odds that it’s a coincidence to 1 in 5,000, meaning we’re really …

Latest estimate on the Universe’s expansion shows we need new physics to explain it

Astronomers have come up with the most precise measurement of the Universe’s expansion rate so far – and sure enough, it still appears to be accelerating. The increasing speed shouldn’t come as a shock – we’ve suspected it for a while. What this measurement does is reduce the odds that it’s a coincidence to 1 in 5,000, meaning we’re really …

Archaeologists think they’ve found first-ever evidence of a legendary biblical prophet

The Biblical figure Isaiah who prophesied the coming of the Messiah may have been an actual real person. Researchers have found an ancient clay seal from around the time he was reportedly alive, marked with his name.   Called a bulla, the seal was retrieved from a 2,700-year-old midden in the Ophel, dating it to around 8th century BCE, and …

Here’s why Jeff Bezos is building a giant mechanical clock designed to last 10,000 years

Here’s something you might not know: Jeff Bezos – the founder of Amazon and rocket company Blue Origin – owns a mountain. Yep, an entire mountain in Texas. Not only that, but the (sometimes) richest person on the planet has figured out the perfect thing to store inside his mountain: a giant mechanical clock designed to last 10,000 years. Hey, …

Physicists are planning to take antimatter out of the lab for the first time

When CERN researchers need to test the limits of scientific research, it’s not often there’s a van at the centre of it all. But the antiProton Unstable Matter Annihilation (PUMA) project, set to take around one billion antiprotons on a very special road trip, is going to lead to some fascinating physics.   There’s an old saying, “If the mountain will not come …

New study reveals how our brains evolved to be so amazingly huge

Over the millions of years since human and chimp ancestors parted ways, our brains have virtually tripled in size, while theirs have barely budged. Sure, some days it doesn’t feel like it, but the fact Homo sapiens have relatively large brains isn’t up for discussion.   What is debatable is just how they got to their extraordinary volume. Now researchers …

This is the most toxic town in the United States

If you were to travel all the way to the northwest tip of a remote peninsula along the northwest coastline of rural Alaska, you’d find an isolated town sitting around 50 kilometres (31 miles) north of the Arctic Circle.   But Kotzebue (pop. ~3,300) isn’t just remarkable for its faraway vantage point near the top of the world. It’s also …

An amateur astronomer accidentally caught the first-ever photo of an exploding star

Even with all the photos that have been taken of space, there are still new things to be seen. And you don’t always need to be a scientist to find them. The first blooming light of a star that went supernova has been photographed for the first time – by an amateur astronomer testing a new camera.   Victor Buso …

Boston Dynamics new video is just another reason robots will hate us one day

In one of the scariest moments in the movie Jurassic Park, a pair of intelligent Velociraptors, brought back to Earth by man’s hubris, defy an assumption about their limitations: They open a kitchen door.   Now imagine that the raptors are real, transformed into headless robot dogs that can negotiate stairs, fling open doors with their robotic claws and generally …

Cape Town just got a few more weeks before it runs out of water on ‘Day Zero’

Cape Town has postponed the date on which it would run out of water – again. After three years of persistent drought, the government has warned that the coastal city would be forced to turn off most of its taps in 2018 – a date also known as “Day Zero”.   The new Day Zero is now 9 July 2018, …

The world’s largest underwater cave is already yielding sacred Maya relics

It’s a place that almost seems too magical to exist: the world’s largest underwater cave, spanning an incredible 347 kilometres (216 miles) of subterranean caverns, discovered in Mexico a month ago.   When archaeologists unveiled this immense, immersed labyrinth, they said it wasn’t just a natural wonder, but an important archaeological find set to reveal sunken secrets of the ancient …

This Cambridge University game wants you to build a fake news empire for science

In the 21st century, misinformation has spread across the internet like a virus, making it harder for people to distinguish fact from fiction. Now, Cambridge University researchers have released an online game that aims to “vaccinate” people against fake news.    “A biological vaccine administers a small dose of the disease to build immunity. Similarly, inoculation theory suggests that exposure …

Astronomers just found some of the most massive black holes discovered in our Universe

A study on dozens of galaxies within several billion light years of our own has revealed black holes that far exceed our expectations on just how big these monsters can grow. The discovery not only helps us better understand the evolution of our Universe’s building blocks, it leaves us with a new intriguing question – just how do black holes …

Scientists are revealing the brain difference that turns some people into ‘superagers’

They’re the minority the majority is dying to get into. Superagers: older folks aged 80 and beyond whose razor-sharp powers of mental fitness defy their advanced years. Just what is it that separates these enviable elderly – who are estimated to make up less than 5 percent of the population – from the rest of us probably destined to succumb …

Your perfume and shampoo could be rivalling cars as a source of air pollution

In a major study released Thursday, a team of government and university scientists say that the nature of air pollution is changing dramatically as cars become cleaner. This is leaving personal-care products, paints, indoor cleaners and other chemical-containing agents as an increasingly dominant source of key emissions.   “Over time, the transportation sector has been getting cleaner when it comes …

We finally know how vampire bats are able to drink blood and survive

Vampire bats are probably not the cuddliest of critters, considering nearly their entire food source consists of blood. But how these furry little mammals ended up guzzling blood has puzzled researchers, and a new analysis shows their very distinct gut bacteria might be a big part of the story.   There are three types of bats who solely drink blood, …

First-ever video of baby ‘dumbo’ octopus is so adorable we can’t deal

If there were a competition for the most adorable ocean creature, the dumbo octopus – named for the ear-like fins with which it swims – would be right up there. And now, for the first time, you can see an even-more-adorable newborn dumbo octopus thanks to researchers who have caught the little cephalopod on camera.   It was back in …

The greatest storm in our Solar System has shockingly few years left

Get a good look at Jupiter’s Great Red Spot while you can. The giant storm as we know it today is shrinking, and it might fade into memory within your lifetime. NASA’s US$1 billion Juno probe took stunning photos of the Great Red Spot in July 2017 – the closest images we’ve ever gotten of the giant tempest. Scientists were …

Lost city in Mexico may have had as many buildings as Manhattan

LIDAR is showing its archaeological prowess once again, being used to reveal the extent of a “lost” city in western Mexico built and inhabited by the Purépecha, contemporaneous rivals to the Aztec civilisation.   Led by archaeologist Chris Fisher of Colorado State University, a team has estimated that the city of Angamuco had around 40,000 buildings, spread over an area …

The bizarre story of how this woman ended up in an X-ray machine

Normally when somebody says ‘you look radiant’, it means you look good. But for one Chinese woman who rode through an X-ray machine, the compliment could be taken rather literally.   Surveillance footage captured in southern China last week went viral after people couldn’t believe these bizarre (and eerie) images of a woman down on all fours, wearing high heels, …

Scientists Just Made Sheep-Human Hybrids. Here’s What You Need to Know

Researchers have achieved a new kind of chimeric first, producing sheep-human hybrid embryos that could one day represent the future of organ donation – by using body parts grown inside unnatural, engineered animals.   With that end goal in mind, scientists have created the first interspecies sheep-human chimera, introducing human stem cells into sheep embryos, resulting in a hybrid creature …

This breathtaking photo of Earth really puts everything into perspective

It’s been a conflicting few months on this blue orb of ours, but nothing puts life into perspective like a photo taken by a probe literally millions of miles from home. OSIRIS-REx, an asteroid-sampling spacecraft, took the photo below as part of an engineering test on January 17 2018.   The spacecraft was moving away from us at around 8.5 …

Where in space is Elon Musk’s Roadster right now?

It’s been barely two weeks since SpaceX successfully launched the first Falcon Heavy into orbit, and many are curious as to where it and its unconventional passenger are right now.   Instead of sending something boring as the Heavy’s first payload, SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk launched his own Tesla Roadster. On board is a mannequin affectionately called ‘Starman’. …

What happens when you get your period in space?

Since NASA’s early days, periods in space have been a strange and mysterious topic for engineers. Countless things go into planning a launch and until Sally Ride became the first American woman in space in 1983, tampons and sanitary napkins were never part of that process.    After wanting to send an overly generous supply (100 tampons for a one …