Latest Blog Posts


Ayahuasca, the Psychedelic Antidepressant?

By Neuroskeptic | June 17, 2018 6:09 am

A traditional Amazonian psychedelic brew is an effective and rapid-acting antidepressant, according to a paper just published. But the new study revives some long-standing questions.

Ayahuasca is a mixture of herbs, traditionally used for spiritual and therapeutic purposes. The main active ingredients are N,N-DMT, a potent psychedelic, and several molecules that inhibit the enzyme MAO. The MAO inhibitors serve to prevent the N,N-DMT from being broken down by the digestive system, allowing …

MORE ABOUT: drugs & addiction


El Niño is gestating in the Pacific, possibly heralding warmer global temps and extreme weather in 2019

By Tom Yulsman | June 15, 2018 5:17 pm

While 2019 is still a long way off, we’ve now got some strong hints that the coming year could bring even warmer global temperatures, plus droughts in some regions, and floods in others.

These climatic and weather effects would come from an El Niño that seems to be gestating in the tropical Pacific.

A warming of tropical Pacific waters beneath the surface, along with the output of computer and statistical modeling, have prompted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to  …

The Science Cheerleaders, current and former NFL and NBA cheerleaders who are also scientists and engineers

Citizen Science Salon

Science Festivals: Report from the Front Lines

By cnickerson | June 15, 2018 3:10 pm

By Caroline Nickerson

Over the past few months, members of the SciStarter team have been working around the country to share new citizen science projects at science festivals. It’s been so much fun to join others excited about science and get a chance to meet some of you!

Organizing a science festival is a labor of love, fueled by the passion of the coordinators, exhibitors, and participants.

The Cambridge Science Festival was one of the first of its kind in the United States. Ma …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Education, Events


What Does God Look Like?

By Lacy Schley | June 15, 2018 1:39 pm

What would you say if you saw this stranger on a bus? Well, if you’re Christian, you might say he’s God.

Psychologists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill surveyed 511 Christians in the U.S. and, based on the participants’ combined perceptions, this is roughly what they thought God should look like.

The team, led by Joshua Conrad Jackson, showed the volunteers 300 pairs of random faces. For each pair, people were instructed to flag the face they thought look …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, top posts

The Crux

To Avoid Humans, More Wildlife Now Work the Night Shift

By Kaitlyn Gaynor, University of California, Berkeley | June 15, 2018 11:46 am

For their first 100 million years on planet Earth, our mammal ancestors relied on the cover of darkness to escape their dinosaur predators and competitors. Only after the meteor-induced mass extinction of dinosaurs 66 million years ago could these nocturnal mammals explore the many wondrous opportunities available in the light of day.

Fast forward to the present, and the honeymoon in the sun may be over for mammals. They’re increasingly returning to the protection of night to avoid the  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: animals

The Crux

How Can a Baby Have 3 Parents?

By Jennifer Barfield, Colorado State University | June 15, 2018 11:21 am

It seems impossible, right? We have been taught from the time we were young that babies are made when a sperm and an egg come together, and the DNA from these two cells combine to make a unique individual with half the DNA from the mother and half from the father. So how can there be a third person involved in this process?

To understand the idea of three-parent babies, we have to talk about DNA. Most people are familiar with the double helix-style DNA which make up the 23 pairs of chromo …

Pico in the Azores. David Stanley, Flickr.

Rocky Planet

Vote in Group B of the 2018 Geology World Cup

By Erik Klemetti | June 15, 2018 8:53 am

Yesterday, we started the 2018 Geology World Cup with voting for Group A, so let’s move to the next group!

Group B

Morocco: Much of Morocco’s geology is linked with the slow collision of Africa and Europe. The Atlas Mountains rise up on the western side of Africa and represent the the stresses put on the two plates by Africa plowing into Europe over the last 65 million years. The mountain range that pre-dated the Atlas Mountains (called oddly enough the “Anti-Atlas”) were formed in the …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Rocky Planet, Science, Science Blogs

Seriously, Science?

Flashback Friday: Bumblebees detect electric fields with their body hair.

By Seriously Science | June 15, 2018 6:00 am

We’ve already covered some of the amazing things that bees can do, from making perfectly hexagonal honeycombs to doing “the wave” to scare off predators. And it turns out they even have the power to detect electric fields! Although it was known that bees can detect electric fields around flowers, how they achieve this amazing feat was a mystery… until now! According to these scientists, bees are actually covered with small hairs that respond to electricity. Be sure to check out the video …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals


Astronomers Catch Black Hole Devouring Star

By Erika K. Carlson | June 14, 2018 1:00 pm

Astronomers Seppo Mattila and Miguel Pérez-Torres usually study the natural deaths of stars, but they weren’t going to pass up the chance to investigate a stellar murder.

A new paper in Science describes how they nabbed photographic evidence that a supermassive black hole in a relatively nearby galaxy tore apart and consumed part of a star in a phenomenon called a tidal disruption event (TDE), spewing jets of material in the process. Scientists have observed these cosmic crime scenes  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: black holes, stars
2018 Geology World Cup

Rocky Planet

Welcome to the Geology World Cup 2018

By Erik Klemetti | June 14, 2018 8:04 am

The 2018 World Cup starts today! One of the world’s largest events of any kind will capture the planet’s attention yet again and Rocky Planet will be hosting the first Geology World Cup. Back in 2014, I ran the Volcano World Cup, where I pit each country that qualified for the real World Cup against each other based on their volcanic features and history. You, the reader, got to vote on which country moved on each round until we crowned Chile as the first (and now only) Volcano World Cup win …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Rocky Planet, Science, Science Blogs
MORE ABOUT: Geology, World Cup

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