Most talked about New Scientist stories

Sperm whale's emergency evacuation... of its bowels

newscientist.com — ENCOUNTERING a mighty sperm whale is a magical experience. But in this case, it was tempered somewhat by a rarely seen defence mechanism: emergency defecation. Sperm whales are the largest toothed predators in the world, so what have they got to be scared of? Here it was pesky divers buzzing around them, taking photos.
Jan 28, 2015

RT @rowhoop: The magical moment a sperm whale pooed in a diver's face - and smiled ow.ly/I55BW http://t.co/SeKP1z8Knb

Jan 28, 2015

This 'sperm whale poonado' story is amazing. And the whale looks so flippin smug RT @rowhoop ow.ly/I55BW http://t.co/FQm4W9VcV1

Jan 28, 2015

The magical moment a sperm whale pooed in a diver's face - and smiled ow.ly/I55BW http://t.co/SeKP1z8Knb

Jan 28, 2015

RT @newscientist: The magical moment a sperm whale pooed in a scuba diver's face ow.ly/I55BW #poonado http://t.co/lXQnsvXITT

Blood bank data turns donations into a numbers game

newscientist.com — CAN the right words convince someone to donate their blood? An initiative in New York has turned to machine learning to figure out who is most likely to give blood - and how to encourage them to do so more frequently.
Jan 28, 2015

RT @Reillymj: From @avivahr: using AI and lessons from Obama 2012 campaign to improve blood donation among African Americans in NYC ow.ly/I746S

Jan 28, 2015

From @avivahr: using AI and lessons from Obama 2012 campaign to improve blood donation among African Americans in NYC ow.ly/I746S

Brazil hit hard by worst drought since 1930

newscientist.com — LIGHTS out. Brazil's south-east, home to Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, is facing its worst drought since 1930 and the dry weather looks set to continue. More than 90 cities have imposed water rationing affecting close to 4 million people, according to media reports.

Do sugary drinks trigger early puberty in girls?

newscientist.com — Girls who drink more sugary beverages start their periods earlier than girls who consume fewer. That's the finding of a new study, and it suggests that this consumption is somehow linked to the onset of puberty. The association remained even once the girls' weight and height had been controlled for.
Jan 28, 2015

RT @newscientist: Today on New Scientist: E. O. Wilson on extinction and religion, whale poonado, fractals in throbbing stars and more ow.ly/I6k40

Polar bear penis bone may be weakened by pollution

newscientist.com — First climate change, now penile fracture - polar bears have got it pretty rough. Chemical pollutants may be reducing the density of the bears' penis bones, putting them at risk of breaking this most intimate part of their anatomy. Various mammals, though not humans, have a penis bone, also known as penile bone or baculum.
Jan 26, 2015

Polar bear penis bone may be weakened by pollution - life - 26 January 2015 - New Scientist: newscientist.com/article/dn2685…

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Laser flight path caught on camera for the first time

newscientist.com — Home | Tech | News Pew pew! Researchers have created the first video of a laser bouncing off a mirror. Watching laser beams fly through the air makes for dramatic battles in sci-fi films, but they're not so easy to see in real life.
Jan 28, 2015

Researchers have created the first video of a laser bouncing off a mirror: bit.ly/1wARqEL

Jan 27, 2015

Pew pew! Researchers have created the first video of a laser bouncing off a mirror newscientist.com/article/dn2686… youtu.be/Uq0H4-nvBB8

Today on New Scientist

newscientist.com — Self-help healthcare fuelled shock Greek election win Volunteer-run services are plugging holes left by cutbacks in Greece and may have helped focus support for the radical Syriza party Keeping an open mind about consciousness research Open Mind is an eclectic open-access website about cutting-edge consciousness and cognitive research Laser flight
Jan 27, 2015

RT @newscientist: Today on New Scientist: normal foot myth, eco-utopia vs eco-activism, planets almost as old as the universe and more ow.ly/I2fI7

Ancient planets are almost as old as the universe

newscientist.com — The Old Ones were already ancient when the Earth was born. Five small planets orbit an 11.2 billion-year-old star, making them about 80 per cent as old as the universe itself. That means our galaxy started building rocky planets earlier than we thought.
Jan 27, 2015

RT @DrFunkySpoon: Planets > 11 billion years old?! Significant 4 #astrobiology & #SETI More than just lots of space out there.Time too! htt…

Jan 27, 2015

Excitement tempered by fact that they are v close to their star. But still. *The oldest planets in the universe* ow.ly/I0Jak

Jan 27, 2015

RT @newscientist: 11 billion years. *These are the oldest planets in the universe* ow.ly/I0Iki

How science tells us to ignore celebrity endorsements

newscientist.com — Book information Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything? When celebrity culture and science clash by Tim Caulfield Published by: Viking Canada Price: CAN$32 Other sources of health advice are available (Image: AKM-GSI/Splash News/Corbis) Popular culture assigns guru status to those who are famous for being famous, yet why does entertainment expertise grant celebrities wisdom in matters of health and beauty?

Time for the US to bury its not-very-smart grid

newscientist.com — (Image: Brendan Smaialowski/AFP/Getty Images) Six million people in the US lost their electricity supply when superstorm Sandy brought down overhead power lines across many north-eastern states last week. A nuclear power station and the cloud data centres run by Amazon were also left chugging along on backup diesel generator power.
Jan 26, 2015

RT @PaulMarks12: Can I be first to say, ahead of the super blizzard, that it's time the US buried its power lines newscientist.com/blogs/oneperce…

Jan 26, 2015

Can I be first to say, ahead of the super blizzard, that it's time the US buried its power lines newscientist.com/blogs/oneperce…

Tape of life may not always be random

newscientist.com — Evolution may have fewer options for adapting to new challenges than you'd think. When terrestrial mammals returned to the ocean to become whales, walruses and manatees, the three lineages sometimes made use of strikingly similar genetic changes.
Jan 26, 2015

Evolution may have fewer options for adapting to new challenges than you'd think ow.ly/HZBIQ pic.twitter.com/xmCBd4CViR

Jan 26, 2015

Three separate instances of marine mammal evolution (walrus, manatee, dolphin) resulted in v. similar genetic changes newscientist.com/article/dn2685…

E. O. Wilson: Religious faith is dragging us down

newscientist.com — Your new book, The Meaning of Human Existence, addresses a huge question. What inspired you to tackle it? I think it's time to be audacious. The central questions of religion and philosophy are three in number: where do we come from, what are we and where are we going?
Jan 28, 2015

E.O. Wilson tells @PennySarchet: "Religious faith is dragging us down" ow.ly/I4gHb

Turbulent lessons from tropical storms

newscientist.com — Living through the awful aftermath of hurricanes like Katrina (Image: Homas Dworzak/Magnum) From 16th-century colonisers of the Caribbean to Katrina's victims, Stuart Schwarz's Sea of Storms explores the long geopolitcal shadow of tropical hurricanes THINK back to when you were a child building cities with your friends out of Meccano or Lego, effortlessly solving engineering problems. Now marvel in retrospect at how different the resulting bridges, towers or skyscrapers were, even when you all started out with the same kit.
Jan 27, 2015

What can we learn from hundreds of years of hurricanes in the Caribbean? ow.ly/I39hb ow.ly/i/8pKlU

Today on New Scientist

newscientist.com — Genome hunter: Rare diseases make people want to help Clinical geneticist Maria Bitner-Glindzicz is helping to gather 100,000 genomes to gain insights into cancer and rare conditions Robot jazz band showcases its freestyling skills Watch as four robots accompany a human musician and show how artificial intelligence lets them improvise
Jan 26, 2015

RT @newscientist: Today on New Scientist: how to become a hero, bankless house-buying, sick Scotland, echoes of the big bang and more ow.ly/HY83G

La Niñas on the rise in climate change double whammy

newscientist.com — Talk about a left-right jab. One of the world's biggest sources of climate variability is set to develop a devastating double blow. The El Niño Southern Oscillation is a natural fluctuation of ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific that can give rise to El Niño and La Niña, which drive droughts and floods from South East Asia and Australia to the Americas.
Jan 26, 2015

Talk about a left-right jab. La Niñas on the rise in climate change double whammy ow.ly/HZBQR pic.twitter.com/xDPLG4xz7g

Is MSG a silent killer or useful flavour booster?

newscientist.com — Some elderly people lose the ability to taste umami - the savoury taste that defies the other flavour categories of sweet, sour, salty and bitter - as Takashi Sasano and his colleagues at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan, discovered several years ago.

Social failure, not lifestyle, has made Scots sick

newscientist.com — Job loss and social breakdown, not smoking and bad diet, lie at the roots of Scotland's infamously high rate of premature death, says a public health expert LAST year, just before the Commonwealth Games, figures came out showing that the host city, Glasgow, has the lowest average life expectancy of any UK city.
Jan 26, 2015

'People who are not in control of their lives are stressed by it' says @HarryBurns16 on why Scots are sick newscientist.com/article/mg2253…

Finding ET - we're gonna need a bigger dish

newscientist.com — The hunt for alien civilisations may need a rethink. A new paper argues that the signals we're listening for might not be the ones ET would choose. Historically, SETI - the search for extraterrestrial intelligence - involves scanning the sky for radio signals that another civilization is deliberately sending.