Why some tropical mushrooms glow in the dark

The tropical forests of Northeaster Brazil have their own nightlight: a peculiar mushroom called Neonothopanus gardneri that glows in the dark. Like a street light, it’s tuned to activate its bioluminescence only in the dark, first in the twilight then peaking at about 10 PM. Researchers at Dartmouth College in the US and the University of São Paulo in Brazil have now fond out what this strange behavior is all about: ‘candy’ for insects.

How urban pigeons dodge obstacles: they trade efficiency for safety

Big cities are crammed with millions of pigeons, but despite their large numbers the birds seem to have no problem navigating through bustling urban environments. I’ve often wondered how pigeons manage not to hit each other, first of all, when they sudden burst in a flock or why you never seem to see pigeons hit by taxis or poles. A new study suggests that this remarkable dodging is made by the pigeon through a trade-off between efficiency and safety, depending on the situation.

How math can tell you if a picture is doctored

This is a picture of a cat, obviously, but do you notice something strange about it? Sure looks like a cat, but let’s have a closer look – zoom in!

Why Viagra makes you see everything blue-tinted

If you’re keen on taking a little blue pill to help you set on your bedroom eyes, you should be prepared for this literally coming true.

Why Stradivarius violins sound so good. Hint: It’s the f-shape

In the 18th century, violin craftsmanship reached its peak in what came to be known as the Cremonese period — he golden age of violinmaking. During this age, Italian families like Amati, Stradivari, and Guarneri were on high request to deliver the finest violins, meant to be played in the finest concert halls of Europe. Whether the old masters employed a scientific method to their manufacturing process to churn out the best possible sound is still debatable, but what’s certain is that string instruments have gone a long away in terms of acoustic efficiency since the middle ages when the lute or oud dominated courthouses. So, what gives these top-notch violins, like Stradivarius, their signature, powerful sound? According to a team of MIT engineers and violinmakers at the North Bennet Street School in Boston they key to a violin’s sound is the shape and length of its “f-holes,” the f-shaped openings through which air escapes.

How many licks does it take to finish a Tootsie Roll lollipop?

“How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie pop? The world may never know,” a timeless commercial might have us believe. What the world of advertising seems to neglect, however, is scientists’ astute resilience to rhetoric. As it happens, it takes an estimated 1,000 licks to reach the center of a lollipop, according to a paper published in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics, by researchers from New York University and Florida State University.

How seals use their whiskers to find food

Harbor seals and most likely all pinnipeds rely on their whiskers to track prey even in the murkiest waters. Now, a new research has revealed the secret to the seal’s formidable sensitive whiskers: it’s their wavy shape.

How fire burns in zero gravity

In space, of course, you can’t have any fires because there isn’t any oxidizer (i.e. oxygen) to sustain the combustion process. Inside a spacecraft or in the International Space Station, however, things are a bit different. Inside you have the same air mixture as on Earth, but because gravity is millions of times smaller an open flame behaves significantly different.

Why you get zapped when you hit your elbow – the hilarious funny bone

We’ve all hit our elbow a rough couple of times before, so you must remember what follows: a gripping tingling suddenly engulfs your whole arm in tandem with excruciating pain. It all feels like a million volts of electricity just passed through you. Usually, this numbness only lasts a couple of minutes, but if it doesn’t go away then this is the case for a doctor. If you ever wondered what causes this strange sensation, read on.

Why does it rain so much in London? Well, it’s not that much really

Did you know it rains more in Miami, Orlando and NYC than in London?

How to Build Carbon Soccer Ball Molecules in Space

Carbon buckyball molecules rarely exist naturally on Earth. Nonetheless, that did not stop astronomers from finding an unexpected abundance of buckyballs in space. Three years ago, Dr. Olivier Berné and Professor Xander Tielens – then, both at Leiden University – suggested a way to form these carbon buckyballs by sifting the hydrogen from larger carbon-hydrogen molecules. Now, a team of astrochemists

How Gold is made and how it got to our planet

Why gold is important and where it came from. All your questions are answered in this article.

Why birds crash into planes and cars like a deathwish

Birds are experts at avoiding predators, quickly dodging out of harms way when felt threatened. Likewise, they’re fantastic at navigating through crammed environments very quickly woods or packed urban dwellings. Even so, when faced with high-speed objects like cars, not to mention airplanes, the birds seem to make little effort to fly off a path that means most certain doom.

How caterpillars gruesomely transform into butterflies

In short, for a caterpillar to turn into a butterfly it digests itself using enzymes triggered by hormones, before sleeping cells similar to stem cells grow into the body parts of the future butterfly. So you thought puberty was mean? Wait till you read on.

Millions of journal entries from 18th and 19th century ship logs reveal

Take millions of data points, each one a geolocated entry plucked from a digitised collection of 18th- and 19th-century ships’ logs, paint them black on a white canvas, and what do you get? This magnificent view of the ocean! There may be no features on this map, but you can clearly distinguish the continents and the oceans. The geographically trained

The Weird Wold of Parasitic Twins & Twin Chimerism

So you perhaps thought that twins could be either identical or fraternal? But did you know that there are actually other types of twins besides these two mentioned? Of course, identical and fraternal twins are the ones we are more aware of because they are the ones we hear about most and are most likely to encounter. The chances of

These rocks in your head keep you balanced

The beautiful colored image above might look like beach pebbles, yet in reality it shows a glimpse from an even tinnier world – it’s a colored scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of calcium carbonate deposited on the surface of an otolith, found in the Acoustic Macula. These tiny debris also fit a purpose, helping the body stay in equilibrium, whether in static (position of the head) or dynamic equilibrium (relative position function of linear acceleration)

Satellite image shows the massive impact of forest fire

Big forest fires almost always hit the news and you hear about the destruction an carnage they cause – but you rarely hear about how difficult it is to treat their aftermath. This image highlights what remained behind the  huge compound wildfire triggered by multiple lightning strikes erupted in Washington state. The wildfire is reportedly 96 percent under control, and the

Vampire parasitic plants ‘sweet talk’ victims via DNA communication

A parasitic plant called the dodder, which essentially acts like a ‘vampire’ upon its unsuspecting prey. A new research found the dodder actually communicates using DNA with its host in order to lower its defenses. A true vampire to the end – it needs an invitation to step in.

Why tattoos are permanent – it’s not what you think

Here’s a scientific explanation that will show you what happens when you get a tattoo and why the ink will forever show on you body. Hint: it’s not because of how deep the ink is.