Humans

We Just Found a Genetic Key to Why Humans Have Such Massive Brains

Human brains are some of the biggest in nature, but it’s not altogether clear why that is. A pair of studies are now suggesting a new hypothesis – that a family of genes responsible for building up brain matter has given our endocranial volume (ECV) a boost.   Crucially, these genes are exclusively active in humans. They’re not found at …


Space

Multiple Unexplained UFO Encounters Have Been Exposed in Leaked Pentagon Report

Last year, ‘declassified’ videos of numerous UFO encounters and reports of a top secret Pentagon program to investigate them made headlines around the world. Now, fresh details about the bizarre backstory to one of these unexplained incidents have emerged, courtesy of a recently leaked confidential military report that describes “several occasions” where the US Navy detected Anomalous Aerial Vehicles (AAVs) …


An Undersea Volcano Could Guide NASA to Signs of Alien Life

Off the coast of Hawaii, nearly a kilometre beneath the waves, an active volcano bubbles, spewing heat from beneath the seabed. This is the Lō’ihi Seamount, and NASA is studying it in the hopes of learning more about extraterrestrial life.   Saturn has two moons that are currently being eyeballed as the strongest candidates for life within the Solar System. …

20 Mystery Explosions Have Occurred in Pennsylvania Since April, And Nobody Knows Why

The early-morning blast on Mother’s Day was big enough to stop nature itself, if only for a moment. A blast wave at 3:35 am rippled through the woods around Lonely Cottage Road in Upper Black Eddy. Frogs stopped croaking. Crickets ceased chirping. And Nick Zangli loaded a gun to defend himself from whatever it could be.   He found an …

These Freaky Things With Real, Disembodied Muscle Tissue Could Be The Next Step in Robotics

Powering cold, hard mechanics with muscle tissue is a promising idea that so far hasn’t delivered awe-inspiring results. But a new way to grow muscles and attach them to a frame could help overcome existing hurdles, resulting in a biological hybrid device that isn’t just stronger than previous attempts, but lasts longer as well.   Engineers at the University of …

Something Weird Happened to Men 7,000 Years Ago, And We Finally Know Why

Around 7,000 years ago – all the way back in the Neolithic – something really peculiar happened to human genetic diversity. Over the next 2,000 years, and seen across Africa, Europe and Asia, the genetic diversity of the Y chromosome collapsed, becoming as though there was only one man for every 17 women.   Now, through computer modelling, researchers believe …

Scientists Just Found a 240-Million-Year-Old “Mother of All Lizards”

Here’s a fact you should know about the world in which you live: It’s home to more kinds of scaly reptiles than all the mammal families combined. The reptile order Squamata, which includes snakes, lizards and legless worm-looking creatures known as amphisbaenians, is the largest order of living land vertebrates on the planet.   And yet scientists know surprisingly little …

New Data Suggest Dark Matter Could Actually Have an Electric Charge

Dark matter, or at least a portion of it, could be carrying an incredibly weak electrical force – equal to about a millionth of an electron’s charge. That’s according to data from the Experiment to Detect the Global Epoch of Reionisation Signature (EDGES).   Though controversial, the potential for even the tiniest interactions between this mysterious form of matter and the more …

How Kim Kardashian And The Inventor of Bitcoin Teamed Up to Write a Scientific Paper

Kim Kardashian appears to now be a published scientist. If that hasn’t already blown your mind, just wait till you see who she’s been working with. The reality TV star and social media influencer is listed as an author on a paper published in a scientific journal earlier this month, and her co-author is none other than Satoshi Nakamoto – …

A Tiny 400 Million-Year-Old Fishy Just Changed Our View of Vertebrate Evolution

Published this week, our new paper describes a spectacular 400 million-year-old 3D-preserved fossil fish, Ligulalepis. The 3D anatomy of the fossilised Ligulalepis skull reveals previously unknown details of the pattern of dermal skull bones, the shape of the brain cavity, and other soft tissue features (such as nerves and blood vessels) in this species.   Why are we so excited …

Water Has More Than One Type of Molecule, And That’s Even Stranger Than We Thought

Not that you could tell by looking at it, but the glass of water sitting on your desk contains two different kinds of water molecule rotating in subtly different ways. A recent experiment managed to separate them, discovering one is much better at reacting than the other. We don’t expect this ‘better’ water to become a market hit, but the …

Who Is Wearing The Heels in This Freaky Viral Optical Illusion?

This bizarre optical illusion has gone viral on social media, showing two people hugging in an office. At first everything seems completely normal… and then you notice something strange.   That dude in the attractive blue shirt. The one wearing the figure-hugging white jeans, cuffed above the heel in a distinctly feminine style. Wait, is he wearing women’s shoes… are …

We Now Have a Real Time-Breaking Flux Capacitor, But It’s Not For Time Travel

It might look a little like the flux capacitor you’d expect to find flashing in a time-travelling DeLorean of Back to the Future fame. Amazingly, it also tweaks the laws of time.   But don’t get your hopes up that you’ll be returning to 1955 any time soon. This particular capacitor based on magnetic flux is set to solve a …

Japanese Whalers Killed 333 Minke Whales This Year, in The Name of ‘Research’

Every Christmas, sailors from Japan go out into the Southern Ocean, taking “biological sampling” that aims to investigate “the structure and dynamics of the Antarctic marine ecosystem”.   But no, they aren’t trying to understand more about climate change, or investigating the mating songs of the ocean. They’re out killing hundreds of Antarctic minke whales, and then letting the flesh be …

Manhattanhenge Is About to Happen in New York. Here’s What You Need to Know

Twice each summer, the Sun, Earth, and monuments of human industry create a spectacle of light called “Manhattanhenge”: when the sunset aligns perfectly with the city’s gridded streets.   The name is a portmanteau of Stonehenge – which prehistoric people likely built to line up with the Sun – and the island of Manhattan. Unlike Stonehenge, however, Manhattanhenge is a …

Authorities Are Warning People It’s Not OK to Roast Marshmallows Over Hawaii’s Volcano

Anyone who thinks there’s no such thing as a stupid question, clearly hasn’t met an online troll before. This week, the US Geological Survey (USGS) was trying to keep the public informed about Hawaii’s ongoing volcanic eruption when suddenly, they were obliged to confirm that no, toasting marshmallows over a volcano is not really the best idea.   The question …

A Forgotten Element Could Help Us Redefine The Way We Measure Time

A rare earth element that doesn’t get much mention could become the key to upgrading atomic clocks to become even more accurate. This could help us explore space and track satellites, and even keep the world’s time zones in sync.   Atomic clocks use the oscillations of atoms under laser fire as a measurement of time, in the same way a …

Top Scientists Have Answered The Weirdest Space Questions, And It’s Epic

The Universe is big, and strange, and there’s a lot of stuff out there that works in mysterious ways. Astronomers spend their time trying to understand these workings so they can figure out the Big Questions: Who we are. If we’re alone. Where the Universe came from. Where it’s going.   One of our favourite resources on the web for …

Our Brains Are Too Puny to Fully Understand The Scale of The Universe

As an astrophysicist, I am always struck by the fact that even the wildest science-fiction stories tend to be distinctly human in character. No matter how exotic the locale or how unusual the scientific concepts, most science fiction ends up being about quintessentially human (or human-like) interactions, problems, foibles and challenges.   This is what we respond to; it is …

A Physicist Has Proposed a Grim Explanation For Why We Never See Aliens

The Universe is so unimaginably big, and it’s positively teeming with an almost infinite supply of potentially life-giving worlds. So where the heck is everybody? At its heart, this is what’s called the Fermi Paradox: the perplexing scientific anomaly that despite there being billions of stars in our Milky Way galaxy – let alone outside it – we’ve never encountered …

Here Are The Most Common Mistakes You Might Make When Choosing a Password

We’re really bad at choosing passwords. According to a new study by a researcher at Virginia Tech and Dashlane, a popular password manager service, most users make the same mistakes when making passwords, such as making their password the name of a popular brand or sports team.   And while these things make passwords easy to remember, they aren’t all …

Scientists Are Hinting at The Existence of a Strange New Type of Particle

Using one of the most powerful computers in the world to perform complex simulations, scientists have predicted a new type of dibaryon particle – one that has two baryons instead of the usual one, with quarks all of the same colour.   The researchers, from the Japanese HAL QCD Collaboration, are calling the particle di-Omega. Baryons are particles that contain …

Stick Insects Have a Bizarre Way to ‘Survive’ Being Eaten

Spreading your genes through procreation is a biological imperative, and for most animals, this requires, well, staying alive to actually produce babies. Not so for the wily stick insect! Scientists have now discovered that even if a stick insect is eaten by a bird, it still has a second chance at producing offspring post mortem.   A team led by researchers …

The Great Barrier Reef Has Escaped Death at Least 5 Times in The Past 30,000 Years

For the last 30,000 years the Great Barrier Reef has experienced all kinds of sea level rises, temperature changes, and sediment increases. But despite a staggering five near-death experiences for the reef, it kept bouncing back – at least in the past.   A new study by a group of international researchers looked at fossil reef cores at 16 sites …

Some People Think That Online Bots Should Have Free Speech Rights

Do you have a right to know if you’re talking to a bot? How about the bot? Does it have the right to keep that information from you? Those questions have been stirring in the minds of many since well before Google demoed Duplex, a human-like AI that makes phone calls on a user’s behalf, earlier this month.   Bots …

We Just Got a Huge Step Closer to Finding The Mysterious Origins of The Inca Civilisation

As the largest pre-Hispanic civilisation in the Americas, the Incas have fascinated historians for years, just as the Machu Picchu Inca citadel fascinates modern-day tourists. Now, we have more clues about where these people originated, thanks to modern-day genetic analysis.   The origins of the Inca people are shrouded in mystery, which is what makes the new research so intriguing …

We Just Found The Best Target For Finding Fossils From Ancient Life on Mars

Scientists say they have determined the most likely place to find traces of ancient microbial life on Mars in future missions to the Red Planet. In a new ‘field guide’ for discovering fossils on Mars, researchers say iron-rich rocks located near the sites of ancient lakes should be the priority for upcoming visits to the Martian surface, because they are …

One Hand of This 150-Year-Old Baby Mummified, While The Rest of Its Body Did Not. Here’s Why

In 2005, scientists were finally getting around to examining boxed remains from an earlier excavation of a medieval cemetery in Nyárlőrinc, Hungary, when they came across something really strange. The tiny hand of an infant, mummified, and tinged a curious shade of green.   It was only after finding the rest of the puzzle pieces and putting them together that …

Astronomers Just Found 6 Bizarre Galaxies That Appear to Be ‘Empty’ of Stars

When you think of galaxies, you first think of glorious pinwheels filled with stars. But now astrophysicists have found something deeply peculiar: what seem to be galaxies in the early Universe with few stars – if they even have any stars at all.   It’s thought that these star-less galaxies, also known as dark galaxies, might be a very early …

A NASA Astronaut Reveals The Horrors of Going to The Toilet in Space

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson sometimes has tears in her eyes when she says she won’t be going in to space again. The former International Space Station boss has logged a whopping 665 floating days in space, more than any other American.   It’s clear from her beaming smile and boisterous, frequent laughs that she loved nearly every aspect of the …

The Oldest Known Dandruff Has Been Discovered in a 125-Million-Year-Old Fossil

When you think of animals with dandruff, dinosaurs probably aren’t the first creature that would come to mind. But palaeontologists have recently discovered the oldest dandruff ever found – on a dinosaur fossil. It’s from a small feathered dino from a staggering 125 million years ago.   Although this might seem like a weird thing to look out for, it …

A Mystery Animal Shot in Montana Has Confused Wolf Experts, But Werewolf? Really?

A strange canid recently shot and killed in Montana looks so weird, that authorities are going to be conducting DNA testing to determine what kind of animal it actually is. A rancher near the town of Denton killed the animal on May 16 when it ventured within several hundred yards of his livestock; he then reported the kill to Montana …

These 10 Questions Are Used to Test The US Public’s Knowledge of Science. How Many Can You Answer?

Every two years, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is required to tell the president how the US is doing in regard to science and engineering. “As economies worldwide grow increasingly knowledge-intensive and interdependent, capacity for innovation becomes ever more critical,” the NSF says in its latest report, titled “Science & Engineering Indicators 2018”.   The news is OK, but not …

Amazon’s Alexa Recorded a Private Conversation And Sent It to a Random Person

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who love being able to say “Alexa, play me some bangers”, and those who got one targeted advertisement too many and are paranoid that their smart devices are always listening.   Recent news, unfortunately, gives some more credence to the latter. A few weeks ago, a woman from Portland, Oregon …

Huge Mountain Ranges Have Been Discovered Deep Under Antarctica’s Ice

Mountain ranges and valleys hundreds of miles long are hidden deep beneath Western Antarctica’s vast ice region, a discovery that scientists say shows Antarctica could contribute even more to rising global sea levels.   A team of researchers used ice-penetrating radar to map the subglacial landscape, which they say adds a key piece of evidence for understanding the frozen continent. …

Five Common Myths About Volcanoes

Few geologic events capture the imagination like an erupting volcano. We thrill at the image: Hot, molten rock comes bursting out of the ground, destroying most everything in its path.   Volcanoes can cause massive disasters that kill tens of thousands, and they can produce amazing sights like hypnotic lava fountains. With an eruption like the one underway at Hawaii’s …

All Scientific Research Funded by NASA Is Available For Free

There’s something very special about all the awesome research funded by NASA – it’s accessible, for free, to everyone. It was a particularly special moment when NASA announced this shift to open access back in 2016. Not only would all published research funded by the space agency be available at no cost, the agency also launched a public web portal …

Microsoft Is Making a Tool to Track Down Biased AI, But That’s Just Half The Problem

Microsoft is the latest tech company to try and tackle algorithmic bias — that is, artificial intelligence that was fed subpar data and came to mirror society’s own prejudices or unfair perspectives.   The company wants to create a tool that will detect and alert people to AI algorithms that may be treating them based on their race or gender, …

Here’s Why AI Can’t Solve Everything

The hysteria about the future of artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere. There seems to be no shortage of sensationalist news about how AI could cure diseases, accelerate human innovation and improve human creativity.   Just looking at the media headlines, you might think that we are already living in a future where AI has infiltrated every aspect of society. While …

Traffic Jam Mathematics Could Help Us Predict Some Critical Weather Patterns

Scientists have shed new light on how crazy weather extremes can be caused by jet stream ‘traffic jams’ – high-altitude backlogs of air that apparently work a little like how cars slow down your peak hour trip to the office every morning.   Crucially, understanding how these currents become backed up could help us work out how the planet’s climate …

If You Focus on Urgent Deadlines, It Could Be Holding You Back From Truly Important Things

Suppose you have two tasks before you. One isn’t that important but needs to be done quickly. The other is important but isn’t urgent. Often, people will choose against their self-interest to do the urgent but less important task, a new study has demonstrated. What’s more, the busier and more overwhelmed you feel, the more likely you are to pick …

This 3D Printer Can Help Grow Organs With Scaffolding Made Out of Sugar

Sugar, that amazingly sweet treat some of us just can’t get enough of, has long been the fascination of children (and those with a child-like sweet tooth). Its ability to be melted down into a glass-like substance enables confectionery artists to create tasty displays worthy of museums, or being served as a 3D printed dessert.   In fact, the same …

Astronomers Just Zoomed Stunningly Close to The Event Horizon of Our Galaxy’s Black Hole

Telescopes around the world have joined forces to try to provide us with our first photograph of a black hole. That’s still a few months off, at least, but all that staring at a black hole is already starting to produce results.   In 2013, the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) radio telescope in Chile joined the global telescope collective that …

Why Scientists Are Actually Super-Excited About Hawaii’s Massive Volcano Eruption

Through the laze and vog, Kīlauea is giving up some of its secrets. The volcano that began a new round of eruptions on May 3 is proving to be a bonanza for volcanologists, as it cracks apart at its base and blows periodically at its top to jettison lava and plumes of ash across much of an anxious Big Island. …

This Brilliant Interactive From NASA Lets You Virtually Explore Planets Far, Far Away

Ever dreamt of stepping onto a faraway planet? Well, NASA has you covered with this incredible virtual planet simulator. The Exoplanet Travel Bureau drops you into vastly different star systems to explore distant worlds.   You can enjoy Trappist-1e’s blood red sky, a planet we now know has a large iron core. (NASA/Exoplanet Travel Bureau) The Trappist system has seven …

Muscles Thought to Be Exclusively Human Have Just Been Found in Apes

It’s thought that humans, unlike other primates, have evolved certain muscles unique to us. But now those muscles have been found in other apes – and this challenges our core perceptions about human evolution.   According to anatomist Rui Diogo of Howard University in the US, a large part of the human narrative revolves around our “special” place in nature, which can …

The US Military Has Released a Mysterious Report on ‘Warp Drives’. Here’s What Physicists Think About It

Sometime after August 2008, the US Department of Defence contracted dozens of researchers to look into some very, very out-there aerospace technologies, including never-before-seen methods of propulsion, lift, and stealth.   Two researchers came back with a 34-page report for the propulsion category, titled “Warp Drive, Dark Energy, and the Manipulation of Extra Dimensions.” The document is dated April 2, …

The Few Birds That Survived The Dinosaur Extinction Had an Unexpected Advantage

For quite a while now, scientists have known that birds made it through a deadly asteroid catastrophe when most dinosaurs didn’t. But, according to a new study, it was really just a lucky handful of avian ancestors that survived.    The deadly asteroid strike in Chicxulub, Mexico happened some 66 million years ago, and it wiped out three-fourths of all …