Look Up This Weekend: The Orionid Meteor Shower Will Light Up the Sky

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A photo taken during the Orionid meteor shower. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons) A Gift From Halley This weekend, go outside and look up in the dark hours before dawn to witness the annual Orionid meteor shower, which will hit its peak overnight on October 21-22. You may have seen a few stray meteors zooming across the sky, leftover Draconids whose peak passed earlier this month or leftover meteors from the South Taurid shower that’s still ongoing. But this week, and more specifically th ...read more

Reading a Cuttlefish's Mind — On Its Skin

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(Credit: Stephan Junek) Pity the cuttlefish that tries to play poker. Where humans might blush when embarrassed or go white when frightened, cuttlefish wear their thoughts on their skins much more literally. Our own color transformations are caused by nothing more than changes in the blood flowing right under our skin, and it’s a poor marker of what our actual thoughts are. Cuttlefish, by contrast, are covered in up to millions of tiny pigment-filled cells called chromatophores. Muscles ...read more

Why Dandelion Seeds Are So Good At Floating

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(Credit: Oleksandr Lipko/Shutterstock) Dandelion blowing may be about as close to a universal experience as there is. Kids and adults alike delight in huffing the white fluffy seeds from a dried sample of Taraxacum officinale, and watching them fly away. But as with all things in nature, it only happens that way because it works. Dandelion seeds can travel for miles before setting down, making them particularly efficient fliers. And scientists didn’t really know why. Other plant seeds, s ...read more

Astronomers May Have Spotted Another Neutron Star Merger

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Neutron star mergers are believed to generate jets that could produce gamma-ray bursts detected at Earth. This diagram shows each step of the merger process, including the formation of a black hole when the two neutron stars collide and the resulting jet. (Credit: NASA/AEI/ZIB/M. Koppitz and L. Rezzolla) Co-author Geoffrey Ryan of the University of Maryland (UMD) and the Joint Space-Science Institute, who called the events “cosmic look-alikes,” said, “They look the same, act ...read more

Earliest Flesh-Ripping Fish Found (With Nibbled Victims)

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This funky-colored fish was nothing to trifle with: Researchers say newly-described Late Jurassic Piranhamesodon pinnatomus was the piranha of its day. (Credit: Jura Museum) Jumping right out of nightmares and into my heart (it’s kind of cute, isn’t it?), meet Fincutter, the Bavarian Piranha. Less than three inches long, the Late Jurassic fossil is the earliest ray-finned fish with flesh-ripping teeth — and paleontologists say it was preserved alongside some of its prey. Piran ...read more

Frankenstein Outside the Castle

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Dr. Frankenstein in L.I.F.E | Image courtesy of ASU It’s alive! The first time Mary Shelley introduced Dr. Frankenstein’s lab in her 1818 novel, she described it as “a solitary chamber, or rather cell, at the top of the house… I kept my workshop of filthy creation… The dissecting room and the slaughter-house furnished many of my materials.” Two hundred years later, researchers at Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe, Arizona are challenging that or ...read more

The 'Trillion Planet Survey' is Looking for Alien Laser Beams

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The Andromeda Galaxy, where researchers are searching for bright lights that could be sign of intelligent extraterrestrial life. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech) An Extraterrestrial Search Physicists at the University of California, Santa Barbara are taking a unique approach to the search for extraterrestrial life. Instead of searching the cosmos for radio signals, they’re hunting for brilliant light beams to locate intelligent beings in the Andromeda Galaxy. It’s inspired by UC Santa Ba ...read more

Scientists Discover 102 Genes Linked to Autism In Largest Study To Date

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A new study looks at the genes linked to autism. (Credit: Sharomka/shutterstock) The quest to understand autism spectrum disorder seems an unending one. Now, researchers discover 102 genes associated with the disorder. The find virtually doubles the number of genes implicated in the complicated condition. Curbed Communication Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition that affects at least 1 in 59 U.S. children. The disorder usually shows up as a range of symptoms in early chi ...read more

How Climatic Changes Toppled The Ancient Megacity Of Angkor

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(Credit: Intarapong/Shutterstock) Angkor, one of the most significant archaeological sites in Southeast Asia, was a thriving metropolis at the center of the Khmer Empire in the 13th century. Then its inhabitants suddenly left town. Now, researchers find abrupt climatic changes and vulnerable infrastructure led to the city’s demise. It’s a cautionary tale for modern cities, many of which are already feeling the stress of climate change. Monumental Megacity Once a vast, urb ...read more

Where Should NASA Search for Extraterrestrial Life? Underground, A New Report Says

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This artist’s concept shows Jupiter’s moon Europa. Researchers believe that a vast, liquid ocean could exist below the moon’s icy surface. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech) We usually associate habitability with terrestrial, Earth-like planets, but what if completely different environments are capable of harboring life? A new report released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) recommends that NASA search these disregarded worlds for signs of life ...read more

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