Environment

Scientists say Earth’s magnetic field isn’t about to flip, but it’s definitely doing something weird

Every few hundred thousand years, Earth’s magnetic field flips, and considering the huge impact that would have on everything from satellite systems to electrical grids, scientists are very keen to work out when the next one might be.   Hopefully it won’t be for a while yet, according to the latest study – by analysing recent near-reversals of the our …


Space

The sun shines brightly on a gorgeous ‘full’ Jupiter in May

The king of planets – the gassy Jupiter – reigns in May and stays bright and nobly serves all night. Through June, Jupiter sustains its brightest point for the year, reaching “opposition” – which is when the sun and Jupiter are opposite each other (from Earth’s perspective) at 8:39 pm (ET) May 8 on the East Coast of America, according …


This timeline shows the entire history of the Universe, and where it’s headed

If you’re the type of person who sometimes wakes up at 3am and lies in bed trying to wrap your tiny mind around the achingly vast Universe and where it’s all headed, well, we have something for you (also, same).   This incredible (and incredibly long) infographic from 2015 just keeps going and going and going. Which makes sense, because we’re …

Japanese engineers have built a working, real-life Transformer

Drop everything. The fantasy car / robot / pal you’ve dreamed about since childhood is real, and it’s sitting under lock-down in a Japanese warehouse. J-deite RIDE is a working, transforming robot that can change between a humanoid form and a functional car. Basically, it’s the closest thing you’ll find to a functional, real-life Transformer anywhere this side of Cybertron. …

London is under siege by a hectic invasion of toxic caterpillars

If you thought Australia was bad, you probably don’t want to be in London right now. The capital of England and the UK is being plagued by an outbreak of toxic moth caterpillars that can cause itching, rashes, sore throats, eye problems and even anaphylaxis.   They’re the larvae of the oak processionary moth, which live in and feed off …

A university library has been evacuated because of a really stinky fruit

An Australian university library was evacuated after a rotting fruit was mistaken for a gas leak. Firefighters arrived at the campus of RMIT in Melbourne’s CBD around 3pm on Saturday after receiving a call about a suspected gas leak. As a precautionary measure, police evacuated approximately 500 students and teachers.   In a statement entitled “Rotten afternoon on campus”, the …

Here’s the best way to deal with temper tantrums, according to science

Anyone who has raised children or grown up with siblings knows there are some bumpy times in a child’s life. When the smallest upset causes a major tantrum. Or when it’s close to impossible to get them out the door on time for school. Or when your adorable angel acts like a wild animal.   But some children’s tantrums, irritability …

The world’s oldest known spider has died at the age of 43

If we had to guess an age limit for spiders, it would not have been as high as 43 years. But that’s the surprising age at which an Australian female trapdoor spider recently passed away – breaking the record for observed spider longevity.   Number 16, as the Giaus villosus matriarch was known to researchers at Curtin University, broke the …

Tesla owner caught relaxing in the passenger seat on a busy freeway

Sometimes you really just need to sit back, relax, and watch the world go by. Those times should never be when you’re the only person travelling in an automobile cruising down the freeway in heavy traffic, along what is one of the UK’s biggest and busiest roads.   But that’s exactly what 39-year-old Nottingham resident Bhavesh Patel did one Sunday …

No, this so-called “warrior woman” isn’t evidence of an alien civilisation on Mars

Another picture of a rock on Mars is being given the alien civilisation treatment. According to a video shared to YouTube, the unusual formation is the head of a statue of a warrior woman, similar to statues from ancient Egypt.   There’s only one problem: the reason it looks a bit like a head is due to a mental trick …

NASA’s only moon rover mission was just unexpectedly cancelled

Months after President Trump signed a directive ordering NASA to return astronauts to the moon, the space agency has canceled its only lunar rover currently in development. According to Clive Neal, a University of Notre Dame planetary scientist and emeritus chairman of the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group, members of the Resource Prospector mission were told to close out the project …

A huge geyser at Yellowstone National Park has erupted for the third time in 6 weeks

In Yellowstone National Park, the world’s largest active geyser has been experiencing “unusual” eruptions. Over the past six weeks, the Steamboat geyser has erupted three times, including once this week.   But don’t worry, there’s no evidence this is a sign of an impending supervolcano meltdown. “There is nothing to indicate that any sort of volcanic eruption is imminent,” Michael …

A Physicist Has Calculated The Best Place to Put Your Router

Forget the trial and error – mathematics has proved where the best spot to place your router is. Physicist Jason Cole has figured out a formula that can work out the best place to position your wireless router, and it ultimately depends on your house’s floor plan.   Cole started investigating the science behind router placement in an attempt to optimise …

European physicists just tested quantum entanglement in massive atom clouds

From tunnelling through impenetrable barriers to being in two places at the same time, the quantum world of atoms and particles is famously bizarre. Yet the strange properties of quantum mechanics are not mathematical quirks – they are real effects that have been seen in laboratories over and over.   One of the most iconic features of quantum mechanics is …

There’s something very wrong with this award-winning anteater photo

Beneath Marcio Cabral’s entry, the British Natural History Museum detailed the arduous process the photographer said he went through to snap the award-winning picture. He’d spent three years returning to the plains of Brazil, he told Wildlife Photographer of the Year judges, staking out giant termite mounds dotted with bioluminescent click beetle larvae — and waiting, monklike, for the perfect …

This math problem is stumping the internet. Here’s how to solve it

Yet another viral math equation is taking over Twitter, with many users struggling to figure out how to make sense of it. Ed Southall, author of “Geometry Snacks,” shared a photo of a pink triangle inside of a square and challenged people to figure out how much of the square is shaded pink.   What fraction is shaded? pic.twitter.com/f4kAjoX4C7 — Ed Southall …

Here’s What Popular Dog Breeds Looked Like Before And After 100 Years of Breeding

Dogs have been our furry companions for thousands of years, but they didn’t always look the way they do today. Many well-known dog breeds have changed a lot physically in the last century, thanks to humans.   By identifying specific traits – such as size, coat colour, and demeanour – and allowing only those animals to mate, we’ve created at least …

Archaeologists uncover what might be the largest child sacrifice in human history

Archaeologists have found the remains of 140 children in a mass grave on the northern coast of Peru – evidence they say suggests the largest ritual child sacrifice in history, according to National Geographic.   The gruesome scene also contained the skeletons of 200 baby llamas. Researchers estimate the event likely occurred around 550 years ago, when the area was controlled …

This is what humans will look like in 1,000 years

About 10,000 years ago, humans evolved a tolerance to cow’s milk; over the past 150 years, we’ve added 10 centimetres to our average height; and over the past 65 years, we’ve added 20 years to the average lifespan, mostly thanks to advances in science.   We’ve come so far in such an incredibly short period of time, so what will …

The EU just made a dramatic move to protect bees

The European Union has announced it will ban the world’s most widely used insecticides within 6 months, due to the damage they’re doing to vulnerable bee populations. Neonicotinoids will be banned from use in all fields by the end of 2018, and will only be allowed to be used in closed greenhouses.   The ban was voted in by the …

Scientists have observed epigenetic memories being passed down for 14 generations

The most important set of genetic instructions we all get comes from our DNA, passed down through generations. But the environment we live in can make genetic changes, too. Last year, researchers discovered that these kinds of environmental genetic changes can be passed down for a whopping 14 generations in an animal – the largest span ever observed in a creature, in this …

Transparent blockchains could turn out to be amazing anti-censorship tools

Two days ago, an open letter to China’s Peking University was anonymously uploaded to the Ethereum blockchain, effectively sharing it with anyone who trades or tracks the cryptocurrency.   In it, student Yue Xin writes that the university coerced her to stop looking into a decades-old controversy surrounding Gao Yan, a Peking University student who committed suicide in 1998 after …

Not only can horses read your facial expressions, they’ll hold it against you later

Giving your horse the old stink-eye is a sure way to get it on your bad side, and research backs that up. A new study shows they don’t only notice when you’re in a bad mood, they remember it later, even if you’ve done nothing to upset them.   Evidence based on research conducted by the Universities of Sussex and …

The “Golden State Killer” Suspect Was Tracked Down Using a Genealogy Website

The “Golden State Killer” was meticulous at his crime scenes over the course of a decade and in several cities, leaving scant evidence for police. There were no fingerprints. Few saw his face. And what he did leave – his DNA – was, at the time, not useful to police.   Four decades later, with far better DNA technology and …

The scientific reason our brains are so good at making bad choices

Every day we make a range of choices in the pursuit of pleasure: we do things that make us feel good or work in a specific job because it’s rewarding or pays well. These experiences help shape our perspectives on life and define our personality.   Consequently, problems with our ability to manage or maintain our pursuit of pleasure often …

Here’s Why We’re So Good at Making Bad Choices

Every day we make a range of choices in the pursuit of pleasure: we do things that make us feel good or work in a specific job because it’s rewarding or pays well. These experiences help shape our perspectives on life and define our personality.   Consequently, problems with our ability to manage or maintain our pursuit of pleasure often …

AI writes poetry and the results are hilariously angsty

“the sun is a beautiful thing in silence is drawn between the trees only the beginning of light”  Was that poem written by an angsty middle schooler or an artificially intelligent algorithm? Is it easy to tell?   Yeah, it’s not easy for us, either. Or for poetry experts, for that matter. A team of researchers from Microsoft and Kyoto University developed a …

An artist used AI to generate nude portraits and the results are completely horrifying

A recent high school graduate has used AI to generate nude portraits, and the results are so disturbing. By combining a collection of nude portraits and a methodology called Progressive Growing of GANs, Robbie Barrat (aka @DrBeef_) attempted to train a neural network to generate its own nude portraits.   GANs, or Generative Adversarial Networks, are computer networks that learn …

The chilling story of the ‘demon core’ and the scientists who became its victims

It was August 13, 1945, and the ‘demon core’ was poised, waiting to be unleashed onto a stunned Japan still reeling in fresh chaos from the deadliest attacks anyone had ever seen.   A week earlier, ‘Little Boy’ had detonated over Hiroshima, followed swiftly by ‘Fat Man’ in Nagasaki. These were the first and only nuclear bombs ever used in …

This creepy ancient carving could be humanity’s first depiction of an ‘evil force’

New analysis on a wooden sculpture discovered more than 100 years ago shows it’s much older than previously thought – and could be one of the earliest relics we have showing the face of an evil spiritual force.   The 5-metre (16.4-foot) long idol, originally pulled from a peat bog near the Russian city of Yekaterinburg in 1894, is now …

China’s ‘Sky River’ will be the biggest artificial rain experiment ever

China is building the foundations of what will become the largest artificial rain experiment in history, in an attempt to induce extra rainfall over the Tibetan Plateau. The project will see tens of thousands of fuel-burning chambers installed across the Tibetan mountains, with a view to boosting rainfall in the region by up to 10 billion cubic metres annually, according …

Archaeologists have found a mysterious bloody massacre from 5th century Sweden

Around 1,500 years ago, perhaps around 450 CE, unknown raiders stormed the small, prosperous village of Sandby borg on the shore of Öland island, and slaughtered the inhabitants, leaving the bodies where they fell.   Now, archaeologists in Sweden have stumbled upon this grisly mystery. With less than 7 percent of the site excavated, the research team, led by archaeologists Clara …

This New AI Can Recreate Partially Erased Images, And It Has to Be Seen to Be Believed

Forget using healing brushes or copying and patching scraps of images with Adobe Photoshop – a revolutionary new AI program might soon let you seamlessly reconstruct entire missing sections of an image in a way that needs to be seen to be believed.   The US tech company Nvidia has come up with a novel method for editing complex images …

9 times the world almost had nuclear war without us knowing

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945 marked the end of the World War II, and the beginning of the age of nuclear weapons. During the Cold War, the policy of mutually assured destruction between the US and the Soviet Union – appropriately referred to as “MAD” – meant that if one nation used nuclear weapons …

IKEA is the latest company to use this not at all creepy Russian recruitment robot

A Russian startup has created a new way to help companies connect with job-seekers and interview them. Her name is Vera, and she’s able to interview as many as 1,500 job candidates in a single work day, sorting through potential hires at a rate that would take most recruiters months to match.   She even sends customized follow-up emails. Perhaps …

The US military funded a study on climate change, and got unnerving results

More than a thousand low-lying tropical islands risk becoming “uninhabitable” by the middle of the century – or possibly sooner – because of rising sea levels, upending the populations of some island nations and endangering key US military assets, according to startling new research published Wednesday.   The threats to the islands are twofold. In the long term, the rising …

Fossilised footprints reveal that early humans once hunted giant sloths

The languid, slow-moving sloth we know today is the inspiration behind a thousand memes, but in ancient times, giant members of their kind towered over early humans, and there was nothing funny about these great, clawed beasts.   Sadly, the last of the giant ground sloths went extinct thousands of years ago, and we might now have a clue as …

This megamerger of 14 galaxies could become the most massive structure in our Universe

Peering billions of light-years back to when the Universe was just 10 percent of its current age, astronomers have spotted a colossal pile-up: 14 young, starbursting galaxies merging into one of the most massive structures in the Universe.   Using some of the most powerful telescopes in operation today, an international research team discovered the extremely dense concentration of hot …

This mind-bending quantum blockchain could be the future of secure transactions

Blockchain technology has taken the world by storm in recent years as a way to anonymously record transactions between individuals. As safe is it is currently, it’s only a matter of time before somebody finds a way to tap into those coded messages.   While quantum computing potentially opens the way to some serious safe-cracking power for hackers, the delicate …

10,000 endangered tortoises were found all over a poachers’ house in Madagascar

It all started with a “rancid stench”. Then the authorities were called. “You cannot imagine. It was so awful,” Soary Randrianjafizanaka, the regional head of Madagascar’s environmental agency, told National Geographic.   A two-story home in the city of Toliara, Madagascar had been filled to the brim with 10,976 critically endangered radiated tortoises (Astrochelys radiata). “They had tortoises in the …

The most accurate star map ever was just released, and it’s already changing astronomy

It might be hard to find the “You Are Here” circle on this one. The European Space Agency (ESA) just released the richest and most extensive map ever made of our Milky Way galaxy and stars beyond.   The map is based on the latest data from the ESA’s Gaia mission, which was launched with the goal of creating the …

The first audio recordings from the bottom of the Mariana Trench are creepy as hell

Back in March 2016, scientists released the first audio recordings taken from the deepest point on Earth’s surface, Challenger Deep, at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Filled with strange moans, low rumbles, and the occasional high-pitched screech, the soundbites below shed rare light on the dark world that lies 10.9 km (6.7 miles) below the crushing weight of the Pacific …

Rosalind Franklin still doesn’t get the recognition she deserves for her DNA discovery

Visiting the Institut Curie in Paris recently got me thinking about the distinct lack of famous female Nobel Prize winners in science (Marie Curie excepted). The world rightly celebrated the incredible life and achievements of Stephen Hawking when he died last month. Yet the recent 60th anniversary of another brilliant scientist who also didn’t win a Nobel Prize but who happened …

Einstein’s ‘spooky action’ has just been demonstrated on a massive scale for the first time

For the first time, scientists have managed to show quantum entanglement – which Einstein famously described as “spooky action at a distance” – happening between macroscopic objects, a major step forward in our understanding of quantum physics.   Quantum entanglement links particles in a way that they instantly affect each other, even over vast distances. On the surface, this powerful bond defies …

Africa splitting is just the beginning, Earth’s undergoing massive changes

Compared to our knowledge of other rocky worlds in our Solar System, our planet is an incredibly dynamic one. Water in its various states weathers, erodes, and builds anew. Beneath our feet a slowly churning mantle grinds and spews rock.   The changes rendered by geological and meteorological processes are so gradual, it’s easy to think our planet will always …

A new ‘Vantablack’ bird-of-paradise has been discovered, and it’s absolutely mesmerising

Ornithologists have classified the Vogelkop superb bird-of-paradise as its own species after recognizing differences in two similar-looking kinds of the birds. These birds-of-paradise are famous for evolving super-black feathers that absorb nearly all light, and their haunting courtship dances (see video below). But now scientists have discovered there are actually two species.   For years, people mistook the Vogelkop superb …

A stunning new video shows a comet’s surface as it hurtles through space

In August 2014, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft pulled up to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and studied the gritty, duck-shaped object for 2 years. Today the ESA continues to publish new images taken by the probe, and in March it released a fresh batch of data.   Many of Rosetta’s photos were taken in sequence – so Twitter user “landru79” stacked …