lchalifoux

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Overtaxed Working Memory Knocks the Brain Out of Sync

Researchers find that when working memory gets overburdened, dialogue between three brain regions breaks down. The discovery provides new support for …

The Brain

Building Blocks of Life Found on Mars

Exploring Mars<p>Two landmark discoveries reveal organic carbon on the red planet, shaping the future hunt for life on Mars.<p>Day to day, it’s easy to lose sight of an astonishing fact: Since 2012, humankind has been driving a nuclear-powered sciencemobile the size of an SUV on another planet.<p>This …

Explore the World's Biggest Cave From Your Couch

Is virtual reality the future of experiencing Earth's greatest natural wonders?<p>At F8, Facebook’s annual developer conference in San Jose, California, the social media company shared updates on React 360, an interactive WebVR and 360 content publisher. Experiences made using the technology can show …

A Cultural Leap at the Dawn of Humanity

New finds from Kenya suggest that humans used long-distance trade networks, sophisticated tools, and symbolic pigments right from the dawn of our species.<p>When Rick Potts started digging at Olorgesailie, the now-dry basin of an ancient Kenyan lake, he figured that it would take three years to find …

Watch Boston Dynamics’ SpotMini Robot Open a Door

You could argue that the door handle has had a disproportionate influence on modern robotics. It was the humanoids of the Darpa Robotics Challenge, …

The Era of Quantum Computing Is Here. Outlook: Cloudy

After decades of heavy slog with no promise of success, quantum computing is suddenly buzzing with almost feverish excitement and activity. Nearly …

Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read

... and the movies and TV shows we watch<p>Pamela Paul’s memories of reading are less about words and more about the experience. “I almost always remember where I was and I remember the book itself. I remember the physical object,” says Paul, the editor of <i>The New York Times Book Review</i>, who reads, it …

Books

Rare Fish With 'Hands' Spotted in Tasmania

Video<p>The find could as much as double the area's currently known population.<p>Video<p>Antonia Cooper and her research team had been diving for two hours. Hailing from the University of Tasmania's Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies and the citizen science program Reef Life Survey, the group had …

Better Than Willpower

A new book argues that reason and perseverance aren’t enough. Instead, three emotions are the secret to getting things done.<p>Willpower, reason, and executive-functioning skills all <i>seem</i> like ingredients in the recipe for success. So why, then, have so many of us already abandoned our New Year’s …

Self Control

Brain Cells Share Information With Virus-Like Capsules

The Arc gene, which is critical for animals’ ability to learn from experiences, has an incredible origin story.<p><i>Updated: January 12, 2018, 5:05 P.M. ET</i><p>When Jason Shepherd first saw the structures under a microscope, he thought they looked like viruses. The problem was: he wasn’t studying …

Biology

Big-Eyed, Fluffy-Tailed Lemur Species Discovered

The newly identified dwarf lemur is smaller than a squirrel and lives in rainforest canopies.<p>With their giant, round black eyes, nubby little ears, fluffy tails, and grabby hands, Madagascar's newest lemur species is hard not to love.<p>Scientists recently identified and named the new species Groves' …

We All Nearly Missed The Largest Underwater Volcano Eruption Ever Recorded

Wha?<p>She was flying home from a holiday in Samoa when she saw it through the airplane window: a "peculiar large mass" floating on the ocean, hundreds …

10 Weird Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About the Milky Way

OXON HILL, MARYLAND, United States, EARTH, SOLAR SYSTEM, MILKY WAY<p>Sarlaccs might live in a galaxy far, far away, but our star-studded home has plenty of its own strange wonders.<p>When we look up, every star we see is in the Milky Way, the spiral galaxy we call home. The Milky Way holds every alien …

Why an Old Theory of Everything Is Gaining New Life

Twenty-five particles and four forces. That description—the Standard Model of particle physics—constitutes physicists’ best current explanation for …

Quantum Mechanics

The Desirability of Storytellers

Among Filipino hunter-gatherers, storytelling is valued more than any other skill, and the best storytellers have the most children.<p>Once upon a time, the sun and moon argued about who would light up the sky. They fought, as anthropomorphic celestial bodies are meant to do, but after the moon proves …

Hunter Gatherers

Ice Age-Era Cave System Found Under Major City

The first rooms in Montreal's St. Léonard cave system were found in 1812, but the discovery of additional caverns has explorers excited.<p>Pie-XII Park lies in the heart of Montréal, surrounded by busy city streets. But it's what lies beneath those streets that has cave experts and city residents …

Hummingbirds Are Where Intuition Goes to Die

A long-held belief about how hummingbirds drink is wrong—and the truth is really weird.<p>When Margaret Rubega first read about how hummingbirds drink, she thought to herself: That can’t possibly be right.<p>Hummingbirds drink nectar using tongues that are so long that, when retracted, they coil up …

Birds

The Hipster Ninja Bats That Sneak Up on Their Prey

The animals have evolved stealthy echolocation that moths can't hear.<p>The sound of death can take many forms: the retort of a gun, the screech of tires, the hack of a cough. But for many moths, death sounds like a series of high-pitched squeaks.<p>Moths are hunted by bats, which track them down by …

Moths

Rarely Seen 'Prehistoric' Shark With 300 Teeth Caught

Frilled sharks have been living in the deep ocean for 80 million years, but little is known about them.<p>A rarely seen creature from the deep sea was recently pulled up from the ocean near Portugal.<p>The frilled shark—a roughly five-foot long fish with 300 teeth—was plucked by a trawler from more than …

The Zombie Diseases of Climate Change

What lurks in the Arctic’s thawing permafrost?<p>From the air, the coast of Greenland appears vast and tranquil. Hundreds of fjords, their surfaces a mirror of blue sky and cloud bottoms, divide the territory. In the gaps between them, the terrain folds over itself, hill over hill, descending into …

Global Warming

The Randomness of Language Evolution

English is shaped by more than natural selection.<p>Joshua Plotkin’s dive into the evolution of language began with clarity—and also a lack of it.<p>Today, if you wanted to talk about something that’s clear, you’d say that it has <i>clarity</i>. But if you were around in 1890, you would almost certainly have …

Linguistics

Why Is This Deer Licking This Fox?

A cuddly island mystery<p>When Chris Lowe first saw the buck stoop to lick the small, silver-speckled fox, he thought his eyes might be playing tricks on him. He’d just gotten back from a run on Santa Catalina, a remote Southern Californian island where he studies sharks, and came upon the two animals …

Lowe's

The Slack Chat That Changed Astronomy

The groundbreaking discovery of a neutron-star collision unfolded in a flurry of online messages.<p>In between its silly chatrooms and custom emojis, Slack is a place where real work gets done. But in some offices—no offense—the projects managed on the messaging platform are way cooler than others. …

Universe

Flowers Have Secret Blue Halos That Bumblebees Can See

Several blooms have a blue ring at the base of their petals that’s produced in a very unusual way.<p>Roses are red, violets are blue. Except they’re not. They’re, er, violet.<p>True blue flowers are exceedingly rare, and not for lack of effort. Plant breeders have repeatedly tried to nudge roses and …

Plants

Inside Cells, Genetic War Could Create New Species

In the complex cells of humans and other organisms, two different genomes collaborate to sustain life. The larger genome, with DNA encoding thousands …

Why Do We Call Baby Deer Fawns?

Weird Animal Question of the Week<p>If you've ever wondered about the names for baby animals ranging from swans to seals, read on for answers.<p>Can’t resist that kitten video? Don’t even try.<p>A 2012 study showed that watching cute animals boosts our productivity. (Related: When We See Something Cute, Why …

Surprise Meteor Lights Up Harvest Moon Festival

People enjoying the Mid-Autumn Festival were treated to a bonus sky burst as a meteor raced over the Yunnan Province in China.<p>People watching the harvest moon during a festival in China had an exceptionally illuminating evening, thanks to a fireball that exploded in the skies over the country’s …

New Marine Parks Protect 290,000 Square Miles of Ocean

The parks protect a combined area in the Pacific Ocean more than twice the size of Germany.<p>The countries of Chile and Niue just made a huge splash in the world of ocean conservation.<p>Niue, a tiny South Pacific island nation with a population of roughly 1,600, has turned 40 percent of its exclusive …

Earth Had Life From Its Infancy

Canadian rocks that are almost 4 billion years old contain signs that organisms were already around on the young planet.<p>The Torngat Mountains in northeastern Canada are full of life. Reindeer graze on lichen, polar bears prowl the coastlines, and great whales swim in the offshore waters. Scientists …

Why octopuses are building small “cities” off the coast of Australia

Divers found octopuses building structures out of shells, socializing with neighbors.<p>The first time that divers discovered a "city" of octopuses off …

Zoology