This Hilarious Optical Illusion For Birds Could Save Your Life

Birds and planes are a bad combination, but it’s not so easy to shoo our avian friends away from airport runways. Thankfully, scientists from France have stumbled upon an ingenious solution to the problem—an optical illusion that appears to scare the crap out of large predatory birds. Read More >>

After Soyuz Failure, Space is Now Weirdly Inaccessible to Astronauts

All crewed launches have been suspended by Russia’s space agency following yesterday’s Soyuz rocket failure. That’s a problem, because much of the world relies on Russian rockets to get both cargo and people into space. Consequently, we’re now facing the very real possibility of having an uncrewed International Space Station—something that hasn’t happened in nearly two decades. Read More >>

artificial intelligence
Google’s AI Bots Invent Ridiculous New Legs to Scamper Through Obstacle Courses

Using a technique called reinforcement learning, a researcher at Google Brain has shown that virtual robots can redesign their body parts to help them navigate challenging obstacle courses—even if the solutions they come up with are completely bizarre. Read More >>

Hungry Dinosaurs May be the Reason Humans Need Sunscreen

What do blind cavefish, dinosaurs, and sunburnt humans have in common? A lot more than you may realise, according to a thought-provoking new study. Read More >>

Intense Heat From Ancient Vesuvius Eruption Caused Victims’ Skulls to Explode

During the Mount Vesuvius eruption of 79 AD, clouds of superheated gas enveloped the ancient city of Pompeii and its surrounding areas, instantly vaporising bodily fluids and soft tissues, according to new research. Sounds grim, but this mode of death was actually a blessing in disguise, given the alternatives. Read More >>

Hidden Secrets of Pulsars Revealed by Trippy Computer Simulations

A new computer model is revealing the unseen and often bizarre behaviours of particles streaming around rapidly spinning neutron stars, also known as pulsars. Read More >>

Newly Discovered Volcanic ‘Lost World’ Is a Haven for Marine Life

Australian scientists have discovered a previously unknown chain of volcanic seamounts near Tasmania. The area appears to be brimming with marine life, including a surprising number of whales who may be using the undersea volcanoes as a navigational tool. Read More >>

Oh Crap, It Looks Like Europa’s Surface Is Covered With Gigantic Shards of Ice

Jupiter’s moon Europa, with its subsurface ocean, may have what it takes to foster alien life. A mission to this icy moon is on the wishlist of many astronomers, but new research suggests it won’t be easy to land spacecraft there: Its surface seems to be littered with icy spikes, the tallest of which measure five stories high. Read More >>

Neanderthals Survived in Ice Age Europe Thanks to Effective Healthcare

Neanderthals cared for their sick and wounded, and new research suggests this well-documented behaviour was more than just a cultural phenomenon or an expression of compassion—it really did help them survive. Read More >>

Ukraine Found the Perfect Use for the Radioactive Land of Chernobyl

Chernobyl is producing power again — though not the kind that triggered a nuclear meltdown 32 years ago. Ukraine is now turning to solar power, and in the process, making good use of land that won’t be habitable to humans for another 24,000 years. Read More >>

New Hubble Observations Boost Evidence For Elusive Exomoon

Astronomers have confirmed thousands of exoplanets—worlds outside of our Solar System—but they haven’t nabbed a single exomoon. New research is bolstering the case for a suspected exomoon first detected last year, but scientists say the evidence is still not definitive. Read More >>

Archaeologists Find Oldest Example of Nutmeg-Spiced Food, Just in Time for Autumn

Mmmm, nutmeg. It’s the spice that adds a certain something to custards and hot cups of coffee. We love our nutmeg to an embarrassing degree, but as a recent archaeological discovery shows, its origins date back to a very different time—and far longer ago than we realised. Read More >>

A Third Probe Landed on Asteroid Ryugu—but It Had Just 16 Hours to Live

A German-French probe called MASCOT was sent to the surface of Ryugu, an asteroid located 190 million miles from Earth, to collect valuable data. But it needed to work fast—the shoebox-sized probe had only 16 hours to live. Read More >>

Discovery of ‘Goblin’ Solar System Object Bolsters the Case for Planet Nine

Astronomers have discovered an object, dubbed “the Goblin,” in the outer reaches of the Solar System. The dwarf planet never gets any closer to the Sun than 6 billion miles, but experts say its orbital configuration points to the existence of a much larger, more distant planet —the elusive Planet Nine. Read More >>

Photosynthesising Bacteria Found Thriving Thousands of Feet Below Earth’s Surface

An international team of researchers has identified a peculiar population of cyanobacteria living within rocks deep below Earth’s surface—a surprising discovery given that cyanobacteria require sunlight to survive. Or so scientists thought. Read More >>