Humans

Scientists discover a tiny stomach hidden inside lung tumours, because cancer is changing

Researchers recently spotted a miniature stomach, duodenum, and small intestine hidden among the cells of lung tumor samples. Tumors are notoriously mixed up; cells from one part often express different genes and adopt different sizes and shapes than cells from another part of that same tumor. This discovery was still a surprise, however.   The team discovered that these cells …


Humans

Huge study shows who’s really to blame for spreading conspiracy theories online

Conspiracy theories seem to be more prevalent than ever, thanks to the spread of the internet and the flame-fanning of social media, but how do they spread? The answer is more complicated than you might think, according to new research.   These far-out, implausible ideas about life, the Universe, and everything aren’t solely propagated by a minority of tinfoil hat-wearing …


Can our brains really read jumbled words as long as the first and last letters are correct?

You’ve probably seen the classic piece of “internet trivia” in the image above before – it’s been circulating since at least 2003. On first glance, it seems legit. Because you can actually read it, right? But, while the meme contains a grain of truth, the reality is always more complicated.   The meme asserts, citing an unnamed Cambridge scientist, that …

Google’s AI has learned to become “highly aggressive” in stressful situations

We’ve all seen the Terminator movies, and the apocalyptic nightmare that the self-aware AI system, Skynet, wrought upon humanity. And behaviour tests conducted on Google’s DeepMind AI system make it clear just how careful we need to be when building the robots of the future.   In tests in 2016, Google’s DeepMind AI system demonstrated an ability to learn independently …

This is the secret meaning behind the devil’s number 666

We’ve all heard about the infamous number 666, which is rather cryptically referred to as the “number of the beast” in the New Testament, and has more recently become known as the number of the Antichrist.   But what is it about this simple, symmetrical number that’s been giving everyone the heebie jeebies for the past 2,000 years? It’s just a …

US Scientists are being criticised Over their Treatment of Ata the “Alien” Mummy

It looks like an alien, but its story is much stranger. And now it’s causing an international incident. Chilean scientists and government officials are protesting a study published in the journal Genome Research on March 22.   It’s not the study’s conclusions or science they take issue with, though. It’s the study’s subject: the body of a mummified Chilean girl. …

The Sahara desert has grown by 10%. Here’s what you need to know

The Sahara, the largest desert in the world, has grown in size by around 10 percent since 1920. Scientists say climate change is one of the most likely reasons why the sands are shifting into new regions.   What’s more, this expansion of dry and arid landscapes might not be restricted to the Sahara either, based on variations in weather …

Fossils reveal an ancient climate catastrophe, and we need to pay attention

Scott Wing had spent more than a decade in the badlands of Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin, most of it thirsty, sunburned, and down on his hands and knees, digging endlessly through the dirt.   But he had never found anything like the fossil he now held in his hand – an exquisitely preserved leaf embossed on beige rock. Wing let out …

These may be the last photos of the Chinese space station before it plummets to Earth

The bus-sized Chinese space station Tiangong-1, known as “Heavenly Palace,” is whipping around our planet in the final hours before it burns into Earth’s atmosphere. In the very near future, it will break up, with some of its debris likely falling to Earth.   In these final hours, Maximilian Teodorescu, a scientific researcher with the National Institute for Lasers and …

There’s mounting evidence the African continent is splitting in two

A large crack, stretching several kilometres, made a sudden appearance recently in south-western Kenya. The tear, which continues to grow, caused part of the Nairobi-Narok highway to collapse and was accompanied by seismic activity in the area.   The Earth is an ever-changing planet, even though in some respects change might be almost unnoticeable to us. Plate tectonics is a …

Africa’s oldest ever DNA sheds light on the mysteries of an ancient culture

Scientists have successfully sequenced genes from people who lived in Africa some 15,000 years ago – and what they found casts new light on the way communities moved and interacted as far back as the end of the Stone Age.   Understanding the history of North Africa is crucial in mapping out how human beings spread out across the continent …

Our planet’s largest mass extinction had warning signs

Mass extinctions don’t just come unannounced. In fact, we’re staring down the barrel of the latest one, according to new research. Scientists have determined that, contrary to previous assumptions, there were early warning signs for the biggest mass extinction event in history. We now know what those warning signs are, and there are alarming parallels observable today.   Such events …

Elon Musk’s Boring tunnel dirt will be used for Lego-style housing bricks

In 2016, entrepreneur Elon Musk launched the Boring Company with the goal of one day constructing a large urban network of tunnels. The company is working on two projects in the Washington, DC region and Los Angeles. It first broke ground on a test site in LA in late 2017.   In order to bore tunnels, construction crews will need …

Playtpuses sweat milk, ‘see’ with electricity, and that’s not even the weirdest thing

Australia is known for it’s strange and adorable wildlife found nowhere else on the planet: koalas, kangaroos, and that giant bird that looks like a dinosaur. And then there’s the platypus – a bizarre and reclusive animal that looks sort of like a duck and an otter had a baby, but fluffier.    It’s so strange in appearance that when …

7 psychological reasons why it’s so hard to just “delete Facebook”

Here we go again: another Facebook controversy, yet again violating our sense of privacy by letting others harvest our personal information. This flareup is a big one to be sure, leading some people to consider leaving Facebook altogether, but the company and most of its over 2 billion users will reconcile.   The vast majority will return to Facebook, just …

This haunting NASA footage of Arctic sea ice will keep you up at night

We got second place, everyone! But this medal definitely isn’t good – 2018 has just joined 2015, 2016 and 2017 as a year when the Arctic had the lowest sea ice maximum extents on record.   2018 actually comes in behind 2017, with this year’s sea ice peaking at 14.48 million square kilometres (5.59 million square miles). Now, that might …

Nobody can explain this strange UFO encountered by 2 separate airliners in Arizona

Newly obtained audio of a bizarre UFO incident that occurred in the skies above Arizona last month has been released online, providing first-hand evidence of a strange aerial encounter that nobody at the FAA has been able to explain.   The incident, which took place on the afternoon of February 24 in the airspace over southern Arizona, began when the …

Scientists are probing the biggest mystery in physics, and the first results are in

Experiments searching for a solution to one of physics’ most perplexing mysteries have recently been delivering their first rounds of results, setting new limits on where we need to look for evidence.   Based on our current understanding of physics, matter shouldn’t exist. The fact it does means something is off in our equations, and scientists are going to some …

Facebook has just updated privacy settings, so here’s what you need to know

Facebook on Wednesday sought to make it simpler for people to control how their data is used as a massive privacy scandal continues to shake the company and has caused its stock price to drop by 17 percent in the last two weeks.   In the coming months, privacy controls that are now in 20 places on Facebook’s app will …

We just discovered a galaxy without dark matter, and astronomers are freaking out

Dark matter is confusing at the best of times. But now astronomers have made an extraordinary and perplexing discovery – the first ever observation of a galaxy with almost no dark matter at all.   We still don’t know what exactly dark matter is, but it’s currently the most elegant explanation for some of the dynamics observed in galaxies. Most …

Bloodthirsty mice are attacking and drinking the blood of albatrosses

For decades, little has gotten in the way of albatrosses nesting and nurturing their young on Midway Atoll, turning it into the most important and successful breeding ground for black-footed and Laysan albatrosses.   But in recent years, the majestic seabirds have fallen victim to gruesome attacks carried out by an unlikely foe: the common house mouse. Bloodied birds – …

These tech insiders are shielding their children from the technology they work with

It’s 9am in Sunnyvale, California and Minni Shahi is on her way to work at the Apple headquarters in Cupertino. Her husband, a former Googler named Vijay Koduri, is meeting his business partner at a local Starbucks to discuss their startup, a YouTube clip-making business called HashCut.   Shahi and Koduri’s two kids, 10-year-old Saurav and 12-year-old Roshni, have already …

Scientists who said CRISPR is dangerous can’t even replicate their own results

An alarming study that claimed the gene-editing technique CRISPR could produce hundreds of unexpected mutations in edited genomes has now been followed up by its authors, who say they cannot replicate their controversial result.   The acknowledgment – which comes in a report of new mice experiments that didn’t introduce such mutations – isn’t technically a retraction of their earlier …

Bee swarms work like giant brains, where each bee is a nerve cell

On their own, bee brains are fairly remarkable things, although human computing power still trumps them. But new research suggests that individual members of a swarm behave surprisingly like neurons in a human brain.   Not only does this tell us something about how these remarkable creatures interact – studying ‘bee speak’ could tell us a thing or two about …

This 2,500-year-old Egyptian coffin was presumed empty for 150 years. It wasn’t

For over 150 years, an ’empty’ coffin lay at a university museum in Australia. So archaeologists got quite the surprise when last June they discovered mummified human remains inside this 2,500-year-old Egyptian relic.   The coffin belongs to the University of Sydney, and researchers are now working to figure out whose remains they’ve had on their hands this whole time. …

NASA has once again delayed the most powerful space telescope of all time

Once it deploys, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will be the most powerful and technically complex space telescope ever deployed. Using its powerful suite of infrared-optimized instruments, this telescope will be able to study the earliest stars and galaxies in the Universe, extra-solar planets around nearby stars, and the planets, moons and asteroids of our Solar System.   Unfortunately, …

China’s “out of control” space lab is crashing to Earth this weekend

When Tiangong-1 rocketed into the sky in 2011, optimists hoped the space station – literal translation: “heavenly palace” – would be a model for a permanent fixture among the stars, a space laboratory that was among humankind’s first footsteps in the Cosmos.   So, when an out-of-control Tiangong-1 comes plummeting to earth in a superheated trail of plasma and space …

This story of how a freshwater fish crossed the salty ocean is pretty wild

What we know for certain is that there are small guppy fish – Poecilia vivipara – on the Fernando de Noronha archipelago, off the coast of northeast Brazil. What’s less clear is how they made it so far away from the mainland, a distance of 345 kilometres (214 miles).   These small freshwater fish look ill-equipped for such an arduous …

Here are 6 clouds you can actually use to tell the weather

Modern weather forecasts rely on complex computer simulators. These simulators use all the physics equations that describe the atmosphere, including the movement of air, the sun’s warmth, and the formation of clouds and rain.   Incremental improvements in forecasts over time mean that modern five-day weather forecasts are as skillful as three-day forecasts were 20 years ago. But you don’t …

How to perfectly boil an egg every single time, according to a quantum physicist

Boiling an egg to perfection sounds like the simplest cooking task in the world, but as anyone who’s boiled an egg knows, you can get surprisingly mixed results. That’s probably because you’re not taking into account all the variables. But if you want the perfect boiled egg every time, quantum physicist Miłosz Panfil has your back.   He’s designed a …

Humans survived intense climate change 11,000 years ago, according to ancient relics

The first humans to reclaim Britain at the end of the last Ice Age encountered volatile and abrupt climate change as the great winter faded – but in the face of extreme instability, they showed an amazing resilience, new research reveals.   New investigations of the mysterious prehistoric people who once inhabited the Mesolithic site of Star Carr in England’s …

Here’s a simple guide to finding all the data Facebook knows about you

Facebook is back in the hot seat over revelations that data on millions of its users was taken and used by a company working for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Brexit vote.   Specifically, a company called Cambridge Analytica (CA) took data from a reported 50 million Facebook users and built personality profiles in order to serve people with …

Europe’s most active volcano is sliding into the sea, and it will cause devastation

Even the most fearsome forces of nature can’t escape the laws of physics: the fiery furnace of Mount Etna is slowly sliding into the Mediterranean Sea at a steady rate, according to the latest measurements.   It’s the first time scientists have been able to observe the movement of a volcano in its entirety, thanks to more than 100 GPS …

Archaeologists have discovered a ghastly ‘coffin birth’ in a medieval grave

A grave dating back to early medieval Italy is a sad testament to the horrors of medicine in the Dark Ages. The skeletal remains of a young woman were found with the skeleton of a foetus between her thighs – and a hole in her skull researchers have determined was likely the result of a medical treatment.   Found in …

The Biggest Misconception About Science Debunked

If you really want to teach someone something, starting with a misconception and working backwards is one of the best techniques. A new video from Veritasium does just that. In the new segment, host Derek Muller debunks one of the most common misconceptions about science – namely, that science is simply a steady, gradual way of accumulating knowledge. According to …

These cryptic artworks hide a Bitcoin fortune

The stratospheric rise of Bitcoin over the last decade has left the world struggling to keep up, breaking records, spawning rivals, and forcing us to face the epic challenges posed by a volatile crypto-universe.   Now, one LA-based artist is having his say on our obsession with cryptocurrencies, and he’s putting his money where his mouth is – embedding thousands …

People in Europe are freaking out over this fall of crazy orange snow

A recent fall of really strange orange-tinted snow is making headlines after it swept across a swathe of Eastern Europe. Images on social media from Russia show mountainous landscapes tinged auburn, where usually they are pristine white.   Although it resembles what we might imagine snow on Mars to look like, the explanation is actually pretty simple. According to the …

Massive devastation as a crazy number of whales have died stranded on an Australian beach

More than 150 short-finned pilot whales stranded en masse at Hamelin Bay, 10km north of Augusta, in Western Australia. About 135 of the whales died after beaching themselves. Incident controller Jeremy Chick says the main priority is to ensure the welfare of the remaining live whales. Short-finned pilot whales stranded on Hamelin Bay beach. (Parks and Wildlife WA) “The strength …

DARPA is researching time crystals, and their reasons are ‘classified’

The US military likes to stay at the forefront of the cutting edge of science – most recently investigating ways they can ‘hack’ the human brain and body to make it die slower, and learn faster.   But in an unexpected twist, it turns out they’re also interested in pushing the limits of quantum mechanics. The Defence Advanced Research Projects …

This flat-Earther finally launched himself off Earth, and came back down again

Mike Hughes, a California man who is most known for his belief that the Earth is shaped like a Frisbee, finally blasted off into the sky in a steam-powered rocket he had built himself.   The 61-year-old limo driver and daredevil-turned-rocket-maker soared about 1,875 feet (571.5 metres) above the Mojave Desert on Saturday afternoon, the Associated Press reported. Hughes’s white-and-green …

In one week China’s space lab will crash to Earth. Here’s what it’ll look like

When Tiangong-1 rocketed into the sky in 2011, optimists hoped the space station – literal translation: “heavenly palace” – would be a model for a permanent fixture among the stars, a space laboratory that was among humankind’s first footsteps in the Cosmos.   So, when an out-of-control Tiangong-1 comes plummeting to earth in a superheated trail of plasma and space …

That ‘guilty’ look your dog is giving you isn’t actually guilt

Every dog owner knows the telltale look of a dog who did something it wasn’t supposed to do. Maybe she pooped on the floor. Maybe she chewed through your favourite couch cushion, or the carpet on the stairs.   You know she did something she shouldn’t have done and, seemingly, she does too. Since you’re a human being, you see that look and …

NASA couldn’t explain what made this strange, deep hole on Mars

As we celebrate 2000 days of Curiosity’s exploration, we should remember it’s just one of an army of robotic eyes throughout space exploration history. You’d think NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has seen everything there is to see on the Martian surface in the 12 years it’s orbited our nearest neighbour, but a snapshot taken over the planet’s South Pole …

Elon Musk just deleted Space X’s Facebook page

The Tesla and SpaceX Facebook pages have vanished, minutes after Elon Musk – the CEO of both companies – said that he had never seen the SpaceX Facebook profile and planned to delete it.   It started when Musk replied to a tweet earlier in the week from WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton, when he tweeted “It is time. #deletefacebook.” Facebook …

This hungry bacteria could help clean up heavy metals and greenhouse gases

Methanotrophic bacteria are air-cleaning champions among microbes in the way they can absorb both a key greenhouse gas and heavy metals from the environment, and now scientists have gained new insight into the way they work.   Two never-before-studied proteins, called MbnB and MbnC, have been identified as being partially responsible for the inner workings of these bacteria – helping …

Why there is no way to fix that epic Facebook data breach any more

The data on millions of Facebook users that a firm wrongfully swiped from the social network probably has spread to other groups, databases and the dark Web, experts said, making Facebook’s pledge to safeguard its users’ privacy hard to enforce.   Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday that the company will notify users whose data may have been taken by Cambridge …

Creating hallucinations without drugs is surprisingly easy

The human brain is a remarkable thing. It can do things our primate relatives are thousands – maybe even millions – of years of evolution away from, and our most complex machines are not even close to competing with our powers of higher consciousness and ingenuity.   And yet, those 100 billion or so neurons are also incredibly fragile. If the tiniest thing goes …