Science & Health

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If you've ever seen a jellyfish in the wild, at an aquarium, or in one of those 11-minute-long relaxation videos on YouTube, you've probably wondered: What are jellyfish trying to do? What is their goal? The answer is not entirely obvious, as these barely sentient blobs seem to senselessly ferry themselves from one place to another just because they can. Now, new research gives overthinkers yet another reason to envy jellyfish. Apparently, some of these animals without brains might sleep pretty peacefully.

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The science news media has a pretty simple job: Find facts, and report them. Typically, this entails reading a scientific study, talking to the study's authors and outside experts, writing, and fact-checking the confusing bits with experts again. But sometimes, the narrative the media wants isn't actually supported by the study, or the experts. Such is the case with a new paper on climate change.

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He was just seven-and-a-half when he died some 49,000 years ago, an otherwise healthy Neanderthal boy whose cause of death remains a mystery. An analysis of his well-preserved skeleton is providing new insights into how these extinct humans developed and matured, revealing an extended period of growth in certain aspects compared to modern humans.

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Stand in awe of the small but mighty pumpkin toadlet. He might only be an inch long, but his skin is packed with some of the most potent toxins on Earth. Strutting proudly through the mulch, he lets out a series of high-pitched buzzes to let nearby females know that in this patch of damp, decomposing leaves, he is king — and ready for a queen. There's only one problem. As scientists explain in a new study published in Scientific Reports, those boastful calls fall on deaf ears. Literally.

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Not to scare you, but you're getting hit with radiation constantly. First, there's just regular old light (yep, that's a kind of radiation). Then there are low levels of higher energy radiation such as the kind in nuclear reactors, including particles coming out of the soil and off of bananas. But the highest-energy radiation is the weirdest stuff. It's literally out of this galaxy.

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Back in April, at Facebook's annual developer conference, the company announced an ambitious — and very creepy! — plan to read its users' minds. Facebook's secretive hardware R&D division, Building 8, planned to develop its own "brain-to-computer interface" hardware that would allow a user to send words straight from her brain to a computer by merely thinking. But until now, we've heard scant details as to how exactly Facebook plans to accomplish this.

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Thanks to QUT, Australia's first facility to produce commercial grade lithium-ion batteries is up and running.

It is the only place in the country capable of making the batteries - which are in the same format as those used to power Tesla cars - because of it's low humidity electro-manufacturing dry rooms.

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Earlier this month, President Donald Trump nominated Jim Bridenstine — a Republican representative in Oklahoma — as NASA's new leader. Like most people in this administration, Bridenstine actively supports ideas antithetical to his (soon-to-be) agency: he's an avid supporter of private space companies and denies that human activity impacts climate change. Now, Bridenstine wants to take a seemingly good idea — studying Mars' weather — and turn it into a misleading talking point about climate change on Earth. Probably.

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Poison aside, frogs are generally weak and pathetic. Dinosaurs, meanwhile, range from weak and pathetic to huge and strong, so I'm going to say they're generally "not weak." But 70 million years ago, things were different. Extinct species of frogs like the Beelzebufo ampinga grew to be ten pounds in size. Maybe they even ate the weakest dinosaurs.

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Last year, a team of European researchers was alarmed to learn that glaciers covered in pink snow — caused not by an Ocean Spray truck collision, but by snow-dwelling red algae — were melting faster than the surrounding white ice. Now, another group of researchers has observed the same phenomenon halfway across the world in Alaska. Pink snow really is a problem for Earth's glaciers, and it could get a lot worse in the future.

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The life of a hermit crab is one of repetition. Find an abandoned snail shell. Live in it. Nom on some flecks of detritus. Grow bigger. Find a slightly bigger shell. Repeat all steps for the rest of your crustacean life. The most onerous part is continually upgrading the shell, a process that can get pretty intensely competitive with other crabs around. However, a newly-discovered species of hermit crab avoids the shell renting game altogether, opting to reside in a living coral, one that grows alongside the crab, meaning no more relocating once the square footage gets a bit tight.

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You may have never wondered what's in the DNA of a football fan, but the US Baltimore Ravens team planned to find out. As part of a bizarre game-day promotion on Sunday, the Ravens partnered with consumer genetic testing company Orig3n to give away free DNA test kits to 55,000 fans as they entered the stadium. But the plan was hastily abandoned just a few hours before kick off, amid concerns about privacy and an inquiry from the federal government about whether the company's labs lacked necessary certifications.

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Thunderclouds rolled into the Japanese beach town of Uchinada early one December morning in 2015. The scientists expected the storms; they'd staked out the location specifically for studying something normally only seen by satellites. Sometime after 5am, a flash of lightning struck a wind turbine. And along came a more perplexing weather phenomenon, too: The thunderstorm turned into a particle accelerator and blasted gamma radiation at the ground.