Animals, Biology, News

Awesome tiny birds cross the Atlantic in one go without stopping

The blackpoll warbler (Setophaga striata) in fall plumage. Image: Wikimedia Commons

More than half a century in question, scientists now confirm that the tiny blackpoll warbler flies nonstop over the North Atlantic Ocean each autumn from New England to South America. The trip takes three days, during which the bird foregoes any rest, sleep or meal. It also absorbs its own intestines.

News, Psychology

Ignoring the dress code can actually enhance status, but only if other people think you’re elite

Mark Zuckerberg clothes

There’s a fine line between being seen as a non-conformist (higher status) and sloppy dresser (lower status). But what sets apart people like Zuckerberg from regular people like you or me (apart from money, of course…)? Well, to get to the root of this silver line, the Harvard researchers studied the observers themselves to understand what are the boundary conditions and signals that make people confer higher status to nonconforming individuals over conforming ones.


Book review: ‘On Sacrifice’

Moshe Halbertal On Sacrifice

I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding the biblical sacrifice, but also the psychoanalytical reasoning behind sacrifice. Quite brilliant.

Animals, Biology

Colugo (flying lemur): the most accomplished and cutest mammalian glider


It seems like us mammals were never meant to fly. Sure, bats can fly, but that’s kind of it. Even so, some mammals have learned alternative means of skipping at an altitude: gliding (feather-tailed possums, sifaka) or parachuting (cats). Yes, cats parachute, but enough of them. Chances have it you’ve seen on average 17 cats already since morning. Today’s post is about a gliding mammal that’s in much more need of attention: the adorable colugos.

Chemistry, News

Sandwiching water between graphene makes square ice crystals at room temperature

In square ice (left) water molecules are locked at a right angle. This looks nothing like the familiar hexagonal ice (right).

In a most unexpected find, the same University of Manchester team that isolated graphene for the first time in 2003 found that water flattens into square crystals – a never encountered lattice configuration – when squeezed between two layers of graphene. The square ice qualifies as a new crystalline phase of ice, joining 17 others previously discovered. The finding could potentially improve filtration, distillation and desalination processes.

News, Videos

Why the seesaw is such a great physics lesson (TedED)


Archimedes once famously said “give me a place to stand, and I shall move the Earth.” This wasn’t some bogus philosophical statement. The ancient physicist was just trying to illustrate a simple, but highly effective machine: the lever. A lever amplifies an input force to provide a greater output force, which is said to provide leverage. Every lever consists of three main components:

Biology, Health & Medicine, News

First 3D mini lungs grow in the lab help end animal testing


Stem cells were coaxed to grow into 3D dimensional mini lungs, or organoids, for the first time. These survived for more than 100 days. These pioneering efforts will serve to deepen our understanding of how lungs grow, as well as prove very useful for testing new drugs’ responses to human tissue. Hopefully, once human tissue grown in the lab becomes closer and close to the real deal (cultured hearts, lungs, kidneys etc.), animal testing might become a thing of the past.

Biology, News, Nutrition

How a new generation of climate change resistant beans could save millions

Boston baked beans

Some 30 new bean varieties have been cross-bred by researchers in order to make these more resistant to rising temperatures. Often called the ‘meat of the poor’, more than 400 million people around the world depend on beans for their daily protein intake. Being particularly vulnerable to temperature means that bean farms, whether large or home subsistence gardens, could be obliterated by climate change this century. The new beans can withstand temperatures three to four degrees Celsius greater than those currently grown by farmers, enough, the researchers say, to keep yield losses to a minimum.

News, Space

50 years ago today, an astronaut smuggled the first sandwich to space

A corn beef sandwich encased in acrylic to prevent decay, on display at the Grissom Memorial Museum in Indiana. Image: Collect Space

When you gotta eat… well you gotta eat, even in space. On March 23, 1965 astronaut John Young launched to Earths’ orbit aboard the Gemini 3. With him was crewmate Gus Grissom and a two days old corn beef sandwich, smuggled without permission on the spacecraft.

Feature Post, Science

The ‘Next Big Things’ in Science Ten Years from Now


So, what’s the future going to look like ten years from now? What’s the next big thing? Genomics, big data, nanotech, a Martian colony and nuclear fusion, to name a few.