Science & TechnologyS


Hippos can actually become airborne when they run at full speed

You've seen them in zoos, maybe read about them, or have even watched Nat Geo documentaries, but how much do you really know about hippopotamuses? They're hefty, they're dangerous, and they wallow in water every chance they get. But did you know that hippos can run surprisingly fast? And when they do, all four of their feet are in the air.

Two evolutionary biomechanics specialists from the University of London's Royal Veterinary College, John Hutchinson and Emily Pringle, took to the hippo world to uncover some astonishing facts. With the aid of high-speed cameras, they filmed these colossal creatures running at full throttle.

Running speed of hippos

When you think of hippos, you probably envision a substantial, mostly inoffensive-looking creature, spending most of its time submerged in water.

However, these mammals, weighing up to 1,500 kg (3,307 lbs) for males and 1,300 kg (2,866 lbs) for females, are notoriously aggressive and can be deadly towards humans.

Their surprising agility for such massy beings has long been a source of intrigue. Some have even clocked speeds of up to 30 km/hr (18.6 mph).


Scientists discover new plants that could lead to 'climate-proof' chocolate

Scientists have found three new species that are close relatives to the plant from which chocolate is produced - a discovery that could pave the way for climate-proof chocolate.

The new species, discovered in the rain forests of South America, are closely related to Theobroma cacao, the tree that bears cocoa beans which are of tremendous economic importance.

The research team comprising scientists from University College Cork (UCC), the University of São Paulo and New York Botanical Garden say their finding is significant as it indicates that there is much work still to be done in characterising Earth's biodiversity.


JWST detects carbon in ancient galaxy: Hints life emerged much earlier than thought

deep space image james webb space telescope JWST
© Webb Space TelescopeInfrared image from JWST taken by NIRCam for the JWST Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey program.
Using James Webb Space Telescope's powerful Near Infrared Spectrograph, a team detected carbon in an ancient galaxy.

The James Webb Space Telescope has detected traces of carbon in one of the earliest galaxies ever observed.

This discovery suggests that a key ingredient for life emerged much sooner than we previously thought — a mere 350 million years after the Big Bang.

The galaxy in question, GS-z12, is a very distant, high-redshift galaxy that existed when the universe was just a toddler. Using JWST's powerful Near Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec), an international team of astronomers analyzed the light from this ancient galaxy. They broke it down into a spectrum that revealed the unmistakable chemical fingerprint of carbon.


Mouse research sheds new light on migraines: Study of 'brain blackout' offers clues

blackout migraines aura
© Tunatura/GettyAbout one-third of people who suffer from migraines experience a phenomenon known as aura before the headache.
The blinding headaches are poorly understood — a mouse study suggests that the content of spinal fluid is a trigger for pain.

For a billion people worldwide, the symptoms can be debilitating: throbbing head pain, nausea, blurred vision and fatigue that can last for days. But how brain activity triggers these severest of headaches — migraines — has long puzzled scientists.

A study in mice, published in Science on 4 July, now offers clues about the neurological events that spark migraines. It suggests that a brief brain 'blackout' — when neuronal activity shuts down — temporarily changes the content of the cerebrospinal fluid, the clear liquid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. This altered fluid, researchers suggest, travels through a previously unknown gap in anatomy to nerves in the skull where it activates pain and inflammatory receptors, causing headaches.

Comment: More on migraine research:


Americans really landed on the Moon - Roscosmos

© HUM Images/Universal Images Group/Getty ImagesAstronaut Neil A. Armstrong, Apollo 11 mission commander, at the modular equipment storage assembly (MESA) of the Lunar Module Eagle on the historic first extravehicular activity (EVA) on the moon, July 20, 1969
Lunar soil samples shared with Soviet scientists are key evidence, according to the chief of the Russian space agency.

The head of Russia's Roscosmos space agency has weighed in on conspiracy theories surrounding the US Moon landings, insisting that there is no doubt that soil samples retrieved by the Americans during their Apollo missions actually came from the lunar surface.

Roscosmos chief Yury Borisov was questioned about whether American astronauts had actually landed on the Moon during a parliamentary session on Wednesday. The key piece of evidence that the Apollo missions were real, according to Borisov, is the fact that NASA shared soil samples from several manned flights with its Soviet colleagues.

"According to the expertise of our Academy of Sciences, the lunar soil turned out to be lunar indeed," Borisov reassured lawmakers, insisting that the samples were analyzed in numerous countries, not just the USSR.


Ants in Florida perform life saving operations — the only animal other than humans known to do so

Ant surgery
© Bart ZijlstraFlorida carpenter ants perform amuptations on nestmates when their legs are injured.
Ants in Florida perform life-saving surgery on their peers, scientists have discovered. They are only the second animal in the world known to do this — along with humans.

The researchers found that Florida carpenter ants (Camponotus floridanus) identify limb wounds on their nestmates, then treat them with either cleaning or amputation.

The team published its findings Tuesday (July 2) in the journal Current Biology.

"When we're talking about amputation behavior, this is literally the only case in which a sophisticated and systematic amputation of an individual by another member of its species occurs in the animal kingdom," study first author Erik Frank, a behavioral ecologist at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said in a statement.

In 2023, Frank's team discovered that an African ant species, Megaponera analis, can treat infected wounds in their nestmates with an antimicrobial substance produced in their glands. Florida carpenter ants do not have any equivalent glands, so the team wanted to find out how this species handles wounds in members of the colony.


'Cosmic clock': Mars gets hit with a 'surprising' 300+ meteorites a year

mars meteorite
Seismic signals have suggested Mars gets hit by around 300 basketball size meteorites every year, providing a new tool for dating planetary surfaces.
The new research, led by scientists at Imperial College London and ETH Zurich working as part of the NASA-led InSight mission, has shed light on how often 'marsquakes' caused by meteorite impacts occur on Mars.

The researchers found that Mars experiences around 280 to 360 meteorite impacts every year that produce craters larger than eight metres in diameter and shake the red planet's surface.

"By using seismic data to better understand how often meteorites hit Mars and how these impacts change its surface, we can start piecing together a timeline of the red planet's geological history and evolution." Natalia Wojcicka Study author

Comment: What's perhaps most notable is the rate of impacts, and that it surprised scientists, and the implications it has for Earth. Because, with regards to Mars itself, as the following article lays out, there's much we've yet to learn about it and its rather eventful, recent, history, and how that as of yet unaccepted data might affect their calculations: Did Earth 'Steal' Martian Water?

There's other evidence highlighting that perhaps space rock arrivals and activity is on the increase in our solar system: New discoveries double number of 'irregular' Saturn moons, bringing total count to 145


Demise of last mammoths on Arctic island 5,500 years ago was 'sudden', new genetic data suggests

© ishibashi seiichi/Shutterstock
In science, we usually share our successes and ignore the less glamorous mishaps. We decided to follow a different approach. This is the story of how multiple generations of scientists collaborated to decipher the genome of the mammoth formerly known as Lonely Boy, often referred to as the last mammoth on the Earth.

The woolly mammoth was one of the most charismatic species of the last Ice Age, between roughly 120,000 to 12,000 years ago. Yet, the cause of its extinction remains a mystery. Mammoths roamed large parts of the northern hemisphere during their heyday, but by the end of the Ice Age, they had disappeared from most of their former range. The last mammoth population lived on Wrangel Island, a small island off the Siberian coast, until its final demise about 4,000 years ago.

In our new study, published in Cell, we investigated whether the Wrangel Island mammoth population was genetically destined for extinction. And despite many mistakes along the way, we ultimately discovered it wasn't.

Comment: The cyclical catastrophes that have been documented to visit our planet at particular points in time often involve all of the theories mentioned: plague, a surge in volcanic and seismic activity, as well as cometary activity, and the accompanying extreme shifts in climate and weather; however, as most notably seemed to happen with the dinosaurs, perhaps the general environmental conditions on the planet also changed, and no longer supported their physiology?


Top secret US underwater drone 'Manta Ray' spotted on Google Earth

Manta Ray
The futuristic looking top-secret vessel is plainly visible on both Google Maps and Google Earth. Picture shows a satellite image of the 'Manta Ray'
A top-secret US submarine drone weapon dubbed the 'Manta Ray' has been spotted by hawk-eyed online users on Google Earth and remains visible to the public.

Satellite images showing the vessel docked at Port Hueneme naval base in California went viral on Sunday, before some social media users said the satellite images were removed, and replaced with what people believed were edited boats.

As it stands, however, satellite images of the vessel can be seen on Google Earth.

The vessel - named after the sea creature due to its diamond-shaped body and wing-like fins - is used for underwater threat detection and was designed by Northrop Grumman Corporation.


Gravitational wave researchers cast new light on Antikythera mechanism mystery

Antikythera mechanism.
© National Archaeological Museum, Athens, GreeceAntikythera mechanism.
Techniques developed to analyze the ripples in spacetime detected by one of the 21st century's most sensitive pieces of scientific equipment have helped cast new light on the function of the oldest known analog computer.

Astronomers from the University of Glasgow have used statistical modeling techniques developed to analyze gravitational waves to establish the likely number of holes in one of the broken rings of the Antikythera mechanism — an ancient artifact which was showcased in the movie Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.

While the movie version enabled the intrepid archaeologist to travel through time, the Glasgow team's results provide fresh evidence that one of the components of the Antikythera mechanism was most likely used to track the Greek lunar year. They also offer new insight into the remarkable craftsmanship of the ancient Greeks.

The mechanism was discovered in 1901 by divers exploring a sunken shipwreck near the Aegean island of Antikythera. Although the shoebox-sized mechanism had broken into fragments and eroded, it quickly became clear that it contained a complex series of gears which were unusually intricately tooled.

Decades of subsequent research and analysis have established that the mechanism dates from the second century BCE and functioned as a kind of hand-operated mechanical computer. Exterior dials connected to the internal gears allowed users to predict eclipses and calculate the astronomical positions of planets on any given date with an accuracy unparalleled by any other known contemporary device.

In 2020, new X-ray images of one of the mechanism's rings, known as the calendar ring, revealed fresh details of regularly spaced holes that sit beneath the ring. Since the ring was broken and incomplete, however, it wasn't clear how just how many holes were there originally. Initial analysis by Antikythera researcher Chris Budiselic and colleagues suggested it was likely somewhere between 347 and 367.