Tag Archives: Science

Meet Jason, the Tiny Beetle Stuck in Amber for 99 Million Years

Featherwing beetles are some of the smallest insects out there—and one researcher managed to spot an ancient specimen in a 99-million-year-old chunk of amber. Just half a millimeter long, this Cretaceous period beetle had its signature fringed wings unfurled when it met its sticky demise.

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Curiosity Rover Finds 3.5-Billion-Year-Old Organic Compounds and Strange Methane on Mars

No, NASA hasn’t discovered life on Mars yet—but a new result makes it seem like maybe, at some point in the planet’s history, the conditions were ripe for some extraterrestrial beings. Maybe.

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New Evidence Reveals a 17,000-Year-Old Coastal Route Into North America

The first people to cross into North America from Eurasia did so by traveling through the Bering Strait, or so the theory goes. A new theory has emerged proposing a coastal route into the continent, but evidence has been lacking. A recent analysis of boulders, bedrock, and fossils in Alaska is now providing a…

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Curiosity Rover’s Busted Jackhammer Could Soon Get a Fix

In late 2016, the drill used by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity began to malfunction due to an apparent mechanical failure. This Saturday, NASA will test a new method that could restore the drill’s critical jackhammering capability, and by consequence, the rover’s ability to analyze Martian rock samples.

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Oh Great, Boston Dynamics Has Unleashed Its Atlas Robot to the Great Outdoors

Boston Dynamics, the company voted most likely to spawn the Robopocalypse, has released a pair of new videos showcasing the latest abilities of its synthetic creations.

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Simulated Moon Dust Kills Cells and Alters DNA, Signaling Trouble for Future Lunar Colonists

Astronauts hoping stay on the moon long-term missions have another reason to worry about moon dust: It could be quite harmful if inhaled, as demonstrated in a new study.

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The Meteorite Hunters Who Trade in Precious Space Debris

On January 16th 2018, a bright flash lit up the sky over Michigan, accompanied by a loud boom. Caught on dash cams and home surveillance systems, the meteor briefly turned night to day as it streaked to the ground at almost 36,000 miles per hour, causing a blast wave equivalent to a minor earthquake.

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Why Some People Sweat More than Others (and What to Do If That’s You)

Why Some People Sweat More than Others (and What to Do If That's You)

Some of us just sweat more than others, and while it can be the source of much embarrassment and shame (trust me, I’m a sweaty person), it helps to understand the reason behind it. This piece from The Science of Us explains the biology behind why, and what you can do about it if it bothers you.

Barring a case of hyperhidrosis (a condition marked by abnormally heavy sweating,) if you’re one of those people who tends to sweat a bit more than others, you can blame your parents—or at least your environment during the first few years of your life:

Explaining why some people sweat more than others, Rittié said that “[w]e think this is because of the following interesting fact. Everyone is born with virtually the same number of sweat glands, but sweat glands mature during the first 2 years of life. Not all sweat glands become able to produce sweat (it depends on the need during that time). So people who grew up in warm climates tend to have more active sweat glands than people who grew up in a climate-controlled environment or in cold climates. As adults, we keep all our sweat glands but only a portion of them are able to produce sweat. This percentage varies between individuals.”

I asked her if she was aware of any genetic factors contributing to this, and she said no. So that leaves the environment you spend your early years in as a major contributing factor to how sweaty you are later in life.

So that explains why we sweat so much, but not what you can do about it if you have a tendency to sweat profusely with even a little activity. The full piece has suggestions for that too, but here are a few stand-outs:

  • Slowly acclimate yourself to warmer temperatures over time. By inching up your thermostat a few degrees at a time, you’ll have to suffer through the discomfort of sweating a good bit at first, but over time, your body will grow accustomed to the now-higher temperatures. If you’re exposed to warmer temperatures often, your body will adapt—this is why 65 degrees feels chilly in the fall, but warm in the spring, the piece explains—by the end of summer, your body is adapted, and you can do the same at home.
  • Sip cold water, and ditch the ice packs. Your body’s sweat response is based on internal temperature, not external temperature, so sipping cold water will help keep your core temperature down—which in turn, despite how much activity you get or how hot it is outside, will help you cool off.

The slow adaptation rule also applies to exercise and activity as well. If you feel like you sweat after even a flight of stairs, even though you’re not winded or tired, keep pushing—eventually, maybe by making those stairs part of your daily climb—your body will adapt and you’ll be able to take them without sweating so much.

If You’re Way Too Sweaty, Blame Your Early Childhood | The Science of Us

Photo by kullez.

Why We Get Brain Freezes

Everyone’s familiar with a brain freeze: You eat or drink something cold a little too fast and suddenly your head erupts in a flash of pain. We all get them and try to avoid them, but this video explains why they happen at all.

Long story short for the folks who can’t watch the video, the going theory is that brain freezes happen when the brain interprets rapid constriction of blood vessels in the mouth and palate as pain—the cold sensation and blood vessel constriction trigger the trigeminal nerve, which tells the brain “something’s wrong in my face,” and your brain does what it needs to so you stop doing that thing—the “thing” in question is usually eating ice cream, drinking a milkshake, or enjoying some delicious shaved ice.

In fact, the video (from Mental Floss, linked below) explains that people who are more susceptible to migranes are also more susceptible to brain freezes, and researchers hope that by studying them, they’ll get a clue into how migranes and other headaches work, and how to treat them more effectively.

As for what to do about them? Well the answer is the same as you’ve been told your whole life: when you’re eating something cold, slow down. If you really need a countermeasure, a glass of warm water or something may help you recover a little more quickly than you would otherwise. Hit play on the video above (or the link below) for more.

What’s a brain freeze? | Mental Floss (YouTube)

Learn to Spot a Liar With These Verbal Signs

At times, lies seem so harmless, but they can stress us out, and even cost us money. On a more subtle level, it changes our pattern of speech, and since most of us aren’t as good at lying as we think, if you know what to look for you can probably catch a lie in the act.

The explanation for why we lie is pretty straightforward: we want to connect ourselves to who we think we should be, rather than just being the person we are, this TED-Ed video explains.


Stories based on lies, or “imagined experiences”, are different from real experiences because we have to put a bit of thought into it. As such, we’ll change the way we speak without even knowing it. Specifically, there are four notable indicators:

  1. Minimal self-references: Liars often use the third-person to distance themselves from the deceptive statements.
  2. Negative language: Liars tend to be more negative because on a subconscious level, they feel guilty about lying.
  3. Simple explanations: Liars typically recount stories or events in simple terms because it’s hard for the brain to come up with a complex lie (at least on the spot).
  4. Convoluted phrasing: Liars use longer, more convoluted sentences with irrelevant details when they could be more straight to the point.

The rest of the video spends time applying these key points to examples in our culture, examining how certain public figures change their way of speaking from one interview (presumably where they lie) to another (where they tell the truth). As we’ve written in other articles, looking for nonverbal cues is also important.


The Language of Lying | TED-Ed