Latest Blog Posts


Your Weekly Attenborough: Sirdavidia solannona

By Nathaniel Scharping | April 20, 2018 4:35 pm

Gabon’s hottest nightclub is Sirdavidia solannona.

Located on the side of a mountain in this coastal African country, the genus of flowering plants has pulled out all stops.

It’s got everything: stamens, anthers, petals, stems, bees, three drunk porpoises trying to microwave leftover Chipotle, a human Slap Chop…

You know — it’s that thing of where…

OK, OK, I can’t keep that going, there’s a reason I’m here and not on SNL. Some bits get away from you, what can I say!

An …



Researchers Find New Species of 'Exploding Ants'

By Lauren Sigfusson | April 20, 2018 4:34 pm

Ants, social insects that live in structured communities and work around the clock to keep the colony running, really take one for the team. Elderly and terminally ill ants leave their nests to die, while others purposefully explode.

Scientists recently discovered a new species of exploding ants, which kill themselves to save their colony as a defensive behavior. Worker ants can choose to rupture their abdominal wall to ward off or kill enemies. During the fatal act, called autothysis, th …

USGS geoscientist looks out over the Pu'u O'o lava lake on April 18, 2018. USGS/HVO.

Rocky Planet

Look Out! New Eruption Might be Starting in Hawai'i

By Erik Klemetti | April 20, 2018 1:30 pm

Kilauea! What’s not to love? The Hawaiian volcano has been constantly erupting over over 37 years and has not one but two active lava lakes. Lava flows are regular features on the volcano’s broad slopes and every once in a while, the summit lava lake has a small explosion when pieces of the walls fall into the fiery pit.

Not only that, but you can watch it all happening! The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has webcams watching many points of interest on Kilauea — both regular webcams …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Rocky Planet, Science, Science Blogs


Hans Asperger and the Nazis

By Neuroskeptic | April 20, 2018 9:04 am

Big news this week as Hans Asperger, autism pioneer and namesake of Asperger’s syndrome, is accused of having collaborated in the murder of children during the Nazi rule in Austria. The accusations come in the form of a long paper by historian Herwig Czech in the journal Molecular Autism.

Czech presents an analysis of Asperger’s activities as head of the Heilpädagogik Ward of the Pediatric Clinic at the University of Vienna, from 1935 to 1943. Here, Asperger was responsible for the evalu …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: autism, ethics, history, papers, select, Top Posts

Seriously, Science?

Flashback Friday: Yes, Cats Do Have Facial Expressions

By Seriously Science | April 20, 2018 6:00 am

If you’re a cat owner, then you probably have a pretty good sense of whether your cat is happy, angry, or frustrated. But do cats, like humans, actually have common “facial expressions” that accompany these emotions? People have actually been studying questions like this for decades (and even back to Charles Darwin), but not always in a scientifically rigorous manner. Enter these scientists, who set out to create a “facial coding system” for cats, which they term “CatFACS” (for …


Fruit Flies Sure Enjoy Ejaculating

By Carl Engelking | April 19, 2018 4:14 pm

Throughout history we’ve blushed and called it la petite mort, the sting of pleasure, the balsamic injection, the flood of bliss—the list continues. But let’s cut to the chase: I’m talking about ejaculation.

It’s almost seems as if some deep-seated Puritanical modesty compels us to semantically sidestep addressing this perfectly natural function. Perhaps we’re just a bit bashful that it feels really, really good. It’s not polite to discuss such scrumptious pleasures publicly …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts


This Organ Helps Sea Nomads Dive Deeper for Longer

By Nathaniel Scharping | April 19, 2018 4:05 pm

When we think of the organs that help humans stay alive under the water, the heart and lungs top the list. But there’s another organ that deserves recognition as well, though few of us would think to name it. It’s the spleen.

Mammals have a unique response to having our faces engulfed by water. Our heart rate slows and peripheral blood vessels constrict, shunting blood to vital organs where it’s needed most. At the same time, our spleens release a cache of red blood vessels held for thi …

Citizen Science Salon

Competition Meets Collaboration: The City Nature Challenge

By acrall | April 19, 2018 1:28 pm

When you hear the word “nature,” you’re likely to think of your last camping trip to a state park, or of grandiose landscapes with forests, lakes, and snow-capped mountains. You may remember the last trip to the beach and the variety of birds you saw while sunbathing. There are likely many images that pop into your head when you hear the word but the image of a city is likely not one of them. The City Nature Challenge hopes to change that.

What is the City Nature Challenge and how did i …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Environment


How to Bend A Diamond

By Charles Choi | April 19, 2018 1:00 pm

Diamond is the hardest natural material, but now scientists have shown that it can bend and stretch, much like rubber, and even elastically snap back into shape — even if it only happens with diamonds that are very small. Such flexibility could open up a wide new range of applications for diamond, the researchers say.

Diamond is extraordinarily hard, meaning it excels at resisting any change to its shape — that’s why a diamond can cut through softer materials and will only be scratc …

MORE ABOUT: physics

Dead Things

Hole-y Cow! Earliest Evidence of Cranial Surgery On Animals

By Gemma Tarlach | April 19, 2018 8:00 am

The average cow needs cranial surgery like it needs a hole in the head, but for one ancient bovine, it appears that’s exactly what the doctor ordered.

Researchers describing a hole in the skull of a Neolithic cow say it’s possibly the earliest example of veterinary surgery — though it may have also been mere practice for performing the procedure on a human patient.

Trepanation, or the act of intentionally making a hole in the skull, has a long history in our species (and it’s sti …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: medicine

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