The Most Interesting Science News Articles of the Week
Each week we uncover the most interesting and informative articles from around the world, here are 10 of the coolest stories in science this week.
Microscopic, blobby-bodied tardigrades — also known as “water bears” — are famed for their ability to survive in extreme conditions, even appearing to come back from the dead.
Now, a new study reveals that special proteins coded into tardigrade DNA may be the secret to the creatures’ resuscitation superpowers. [Read more about the superpowers.]
Setting high records
The U.S. Air Force’s X-37B space plane is just eight days away from setting a record on its current clandestine mission.
If the robotic vehicle stays aloft until March 25, it will break the X-37B mission-duration mark of 674 days, which was established back in October 2014. [Read more about the near record.]
Any way you slice it, cheese is considered by many to be a favorite food, whether cut into cubes as a snack, grated over pasta, layered in a sandwich or melted as a topping for pizza.
In a recent study, scientists 3D-printed cheese and conducted a series of tests evaluating its texture, resilience and “meltability,” to see how this cheese from the future would stack up — on a structural level — against regular processed cheese. [Read more about printable cheese.]
After decades spent slowly disintegrating in high-security vaults, thousands of historic films of U.S. nuclear weapons tests have been salvaged, including some that have been newly declassified. The incredible footage shows enormous mushroom clouds ballooning over the horizon in what could be a doomsday flick.
About 6,500 of the films have been located so far, and now, an initial collection of 64 videos, all showing tests conducted by the LLNL, have been made available online. [Read more about the declassified footage.]
First time users
The chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana is known to trigger responses in brain regions related to thinking, perception, coordination and memory, and to have a lasting impact on users when taken frequently over time.
“We don’t really know what happens to a first-time user — we don’t know if one use will change the brain and make you more vulnerable to taking other drugs, for example,” Weiss told Live Science. [Read more about pot brain.]
Hungry, hungry arachnids
Each year, about 27 million tons of spiders consume somewhere between 440 million and 880 million tons of insects, new research finds.
Spiders are a very successful group of arthropods. They’re found everywhere from deserts to grasslands to forests to Arctic tundra. More than 45,000 individual species have been identified so far, Nyffeler and Birkhofer wrote. Scientists estimate that there are around 131 spiders per every square meter of land on the globe, and in some places up to 1,000 individuals in that area (about the size of a single mattress). [Read more about their voracious appetites.]
Health and climate change
Climate change is poised to affect the health of Americans in every part of the country, a new report says.
But few Americans are aware of the impact climate change has on health, according to the report. Only about a third of Americans can name a specific way climate change affects people’s health, according to the report. [Read more about climate change’s affects.]
Life without the EPA
Acid rain devouring New England forests. Homes built on toxic sites. Unswimmable rivers and cities cloaked in smog. The United States looked very different before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) arrived, but a recent Congressional bill calls for the agency’s abolition.
So Americans may wonder: What would life be like without the EPA? [Read more about the EPA’s importance.]
Scientists have discovered what may be the world’s oldest plant-like fossils, found in sedimentary rocks in central India. The preserved specimens are estimated to be 1.6 billion years old, and contain structures like those found in red algae.
The two types of fossils that researchers recently identified resembled red algae — one specimen was composed of filaments and another was made of more robust structures. The ancient specimens are 400 million years older than previous fossil algae discoveries, and hint that multicellular life evolved on Earth far earlier than was once thought. [Read more about the oldest fossils.]
A 1,000-year-old circular tomb, whose walls are decorated with colorful murals, has been discovered in Datong City, in northern China.
The murals on the walls show servants, cranes and numerous articles of clothing that hang on several stands, their colors still vibrant despite the passage of a millennia. [Read more about the vibrant murals.]