Friday, November 7, 2014


When Did Insects Evolve?

Our planet is dominated by insects, and when and how insects took over the earth is a question that’s puzzled naturalists for centuries. In an incredible international effort, 100 scientists combined their molecular, computational biology, statistics, paleontology, and taxonomic expertise to uncover some surprising conclusions about when major groups of insects evolved.
- Wired

Lost in Space: Half of All Stars Are Rogues Between Galaxies

As many as half of all stars in the universe lie in the vast gulfs of space between galaxies, an unexpected discovery that scientists believe could help solve mysteries regarding missing light and particles that theory had suggested should exist.

Birth of Planets Captured in Astonishing Photos

Astronomers have captured the best image ever of planet formation around an infant star. This revolutionary new image reveals in astonishing detail the planet-forming disk surrounding HL Tau, a Sun-like star located approximately 450 light-years from Earth in the constellation Taurus, including multiple concentric rings separated by clearly defined gaps. These structures suggest that planet formation is already well underway around this remarkably young star.
- Science Codex

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Despite Disasters, Explore We Must

The crash of Virgin Galactic's spacecraft has renewed criticism of commercial space exploration, but are disasters and loss of life part of the cost of pushing humanity's limits?
- NPR, 13.7 Cosmos & Culture

First Amphibious "Sea Monster" Found; Fills Evolutionary Gap

The ichthyosaur fills a crucial gap in the evolution of these dolphin-like predators, which thrived in Jurassic seas about 200 million to 145 million years ago. Scientists knew these reptiles evolved from land to the sea, since they have found fossils of both land-dwelling ancestors and the fast-swimming marine creatures, so paleontologists suspected there must be some in-between ichthyosaurs out there.
- National Geographic

Harvard Researchers Unravel Evolution of Genitalia

When the first animals scrambled out of the water to live on land, they needed limbs and lungs. And something else: A new way to reproduce.
- The Boston Globe

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Where'd You Get That Great Idea? Team Seeks the Source of Creativity: Near or Far?

It's commonly believed that creativity is a process that involves connecting ideas and building on the past to create something new. But is it better to "think outside the box," using unrelated concepts to get the creative juices flowing, or to build on something more closely related to the problem one is trying to solve?
- Phys.Org

Why Our Galaxy's Black Hole Didn't Eat Mystery Object

In 2011, astronomers were excited to discover a large cloud of gas careening toward the supermassive black hole that resides in the center of the Milky Way. But earlier this year, astronomers discovered that far from being eaten by the black hole the cloud of gas carried on its merry way, orbiting past the gravitational behemoth.
- Discovery News

We Are Not the Only Political Animals

Overwhelming empirical data reveal complex social organization across the animal kingdom, including collective deliberation, division of labor, ritualized conflict resolution, and other forms of behavior that, when identified in human society, are deemed political without hesitation.
- The New York Times

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Can (and Should) Happiness Be a Policy Goal?

How does an individual's happiness level reflect societal conditions? A new article out today in the first issue of Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences (PIBBS) finds that similar to how GDP measures the effectiveness of economic policies, happiness can and should be used to evaluate the effectiveness of social policies.
- Medical Xpress

UN Climate Report Offers Stark Warnings, Hope

Climate change is happening, it's almost entirely man's fault and limiting its impacts may require reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero this century, the U.N.'s panel on climate science said in the fourth and final volume of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's giant climate assessment.
- Businessweek 

Photon Interaction Breakthrough in Quantum Mechanics

A team of scientists have made a major breakthrough in the quantum mechanics field, with researchers developing specialized hardware to make it possible for photons to interact with one another.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Why Did It Take So Long For Complex Life To Evolve On Earth? Blame Oxygen.

In terms of the earth's history, complex life was relatively slow to evolve—and a new study finds a simple culprit.
- The Daily Beast

Massive Geographic Change May Have Triggered Explosion of Animal Life

New research suggests a major tectonic event may have triggered a rise in sea level and other environmental changes that accompanied the apparent burst of life that occurred 530 million years ago during the Cambrian explosion.
- ScienceDaily

The Positive Emotional Impact of Sad Music

A new multinational survey suggests listening to melancholy music has multiple rewards.
- Pacific Standard