"Did we do that?"
So remember that psychology experiment Facebook did recently, and the resulting academic paper they wrote and submitted to a reputable scientific journal? And remember how they didn't actually tell anybody they were doing it and how that sort of made some people mad and possibly even litigious? The scientific journal noticed all of that uproar and maaaaybe they're not as into the paper as they thought, you guys.
...but I think I might be fine with it.
Facebook has been caught in a scandal after it was discovered that in 2012 they turned 689,003 users into unknowing participants in a psychological experiment. It's sneaky, arguably unethical, but surprisingly I think I'm actually on Facebook's side on this one.
All it took was true love's kiss.
If you like the word "indestructible" combined with "virus," then I'm assuming you're a supervillain with a great collection of Hazmat suits. National Geographic is reporting that scientists have just revived a large, ancient virus from permafrost in Siberia. Oh yes, another upside to global warming: increased risk of exposure to dormant pathogens.
This might be literally the last place we expected to find taste receptors. And one of the last places we'd want them, actually.
Our tongues have taste receptors, obviously, but it turns out that's not the only place we have them. Taste receptors are found all over the body -- even in the testicles. Scientists don't understand what the taste receptors outside of our tongue do, but they've recently discovered that the taste receptors in the testicles of male mice are important to fertility.
We're always at work making humans better, faster, and stronger, but what about individual cells? Well, we can make them stronger, too. The problem is, we... kind of have to kill them first. Once we've done that, though, what's left behind is a stronger, mineral model of the old cell's structure -- right down to its internal organs -- that could be the beginning of a new breed of high endurance nanomaterials.
People become scientists for a lot of reasons.
Because they enjoy solving the mysteries of the universe, or want to make the world a better place to live, or just because it's a career that helps them finish the death ray they're working on in their basement. These are all noble reasons for wanting to do science -- especially the death ray thing -- but none of them is the best reason. The best reason to become a scientist, clearly, is so you can strap small cameras to Adelie penguins and make videos about their lives under the sea like the one you can watch below.
Researchers sifting through the artifacts of a 2,000-year-old shipwreck have uncovered an unexpected treasure -- one not of gold or silver, but simple, unassuming zinc. A tin full of zinc tablets contained within the wreck may be one of the earliest examples of a modern, prepared medicinal compound, say researchers in a story published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Deforestation can wipe out trees and cause habitat loss that leads to the extinction of animals like birds and mammals. Some of the impacts of massive, sudden tree loss in places like the Amazon, though, may have been too small to notice until now.
Reporting this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
, an international team of researchers found that deforestation can profoundly change the makeup of bacteria in soil, wiping out microbial communities that help to make ecosystems unique.
Researchers at Brown University
have found the anatomical and evolutionary basis behind the fact that some varieties of grass really are greener than others -- or at least why they're able to produce food for themselves via photosynthesis more effectively than their cousins. According to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a slight difference in the cellular structure around the veins in blades of grass can make the difference between a grass that is highly efficient and successful
and one that just putters along.
We're all for things that cover up the many terrible smells we encounter in our everyday lives, but let's be real -- sometimes that squirt of air freshener or powerfully scented pine tree dangling from your rearview mirror is just as headache inducing as the foul odor it's striving to cover up. Many have been the times that we have wished with all our hearts that we could just smell nothing at all. Our wish could be on the way to being granted, as researchers at The Weizmann Institute have engineered an odor that they claim is the chemical equivalent of the color white, or the sound of white noise -- a totally neutral scent.
Think the fact that you can't carry a tune in a paper bag is only a problem at karaoke night? Think again. Being tone deaf may also affect your ability to find emotional cues in people's speech
, making it harder to determine from a person's tone of voice whether they're happy, angry, sad, or frustrated, according to a recent study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
A team of French doctors got more than they bargained for while trying to solve the mystery of what was causing eye inflammation in one of their patients. On examining her contact lens case, they discovered the culprit -- a simple amoeba. On closer inspection, though, that amoeba held no shortage of surprising discoveries, not the least of which was an entirely new species of giant virus, dubbed Lentille. Some diligent poking around inside Lentille, though, showed that it wasn't travelling alone.
As a species, humans tend to be glass half-full, optimistic sorts of folks, actively seeking out good news while simultaneously ignoring things that upset or disagree with us. It can be a fun way to live sometimes and it's definitely made a few of our days more relaxing, but the good news bias can work against us as well, detaching us from reality and leading us to make poor decisions. It turns out we may be able to take off those rose-colored glasses and think logically about things
, though -- and all it requires out of us is a quick shot of magnetic energy to the brain
While there's maybe no medical technology today with more potential, stem cell treatments are not without their own problems. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)
-- those created in a laboratory after being devolved from other adult cells -- are getting easier to make every day, but are still expensive to manufacture and run the risk of causing health problems of their own, possibly even becoming cancerous. Embryonic stem cells (ESCs)
, meanwhile, have been shown to be effective and largely safe for patients, but their use in medicine remains controversial. A team of researchers working at the Salk Institute
and the University of California San Diego
has taken a step toward understanding what makes both sorts of cells tick, though. They've discovered a unique molecular signature that indicates when a stem cell has been created in a lab rather than harvested from an unimplanted embryo.
If you don't think of "being exceedingly reasonable about scheduling matters" as a trait generally shown by big cats who chase down and eat small, fluffy things, you're not alone. A group of tigers in Nepal, however, is demonstrating a degree of tact and diplomacy not usually seen in quarter-ton feline killing machines. The tigers of Nepal's Chitwan National Park have changed from their normal daytime feeding habits to make their living as nocturnal predators
, seemingly in the interest of avoiding conflict with the humans who call the area home and share many of the same roads and trails used by tigers.
Researchers at Caltech
have created the first predictive computer model of a living embryo
, mapping the genetic development of a sea urchin
in the first 30 hours of it's life. While a model over that time span will miss big events like the urchin's high school graduation and the heartbreak of its first divorce, it will capture the development of it's heart and skeleton, which are pretty important too. The work, reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science
opens the door to creating predictive computer models for other organisms
down the road, and learning more about the very first moments of development, when cells are still learning what to be from the simplest available genetic roadmap.
Researchers working with the University of Padova
and the University of Gottingen
have found some of the oldest bugs on Earth trapped in amber samples. The tiny gall mite
pictured above -- one of two species of mite discovered along with a new variety of early fly -- was found in a series of amber samples from northeastern Italy. These early arthropods are about 100 million years older than the next oldest amber preserved creatures
known to science. While these new critters promise to offer science new insights to the wide world of ancient creepy-crawlers, the fact that they could get trapped in amber at all is also proving valuable to the study of ancient trees.
While many species of birds and mammals have been seen using tools in the wild, crafting lasting tools from stone is one of the things that has long been thought to mark a key difference between apes and early humans. One species of great ape, though -- the bonobo
-- may have just made that line a little less reliable. A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
found that, once offered a little insight on the matter, bonobos are at least as skilled at crafting tools as chimpanzees, and may demonstrate the same level of talent shown in artifacts left behind by early humans.
About 298 million years ago near the modern day city of Wuda, China, a volcano erupted. Over the course of several days it rained down volcanic ash with such ferocity that branches were torn from plants and enormous trees were felled in a nearby forest. The forest plants were completely buried in a layer of thick ash, and was in turn buried over eons of new growth. Now, scientists have unearthed this lost forest
, giving them a glimpse into a long forgotten time.
There were some seriously odd things about the plant Philcoxia,
an herb which lives in the rocky, white sandy Campos Rupestres
region of Brazil. For one thing, the slim, stickly plant had only tiny leaves with which to photosynthesize in a nutrient poor area. For another, it had strange, sticky underground leaves. Initially described in 2000, researchers also noted stalked capitate glands -- usually a sign of a carnivorous plant. However, there were no corpses nearby to suggest any grisly business. That was until someone looked underneath the soil.