Rowan Hooper on Muck Rack

Rowan Hooper Verified

News Editor — New Scientist
As seen in:  New Scientist, Wired, Slate

News editor, @NewScientist. Former Tokyoite & entomologist. Columnist for @japantimes.

Eels face the slippery slope to extinction — Last week I was crossing the River Thames on the way to work in London, and I happened to see a cormorant emerge from the water with a thrashing eel in its mouth. The bird juggled the fish, skillfully managing to position it so it could swallow the wriggling animal headfirst.

Avast! It's a gas-filled blob with a sting in the tail — APART from its wondrously alien look, the coolest thing about the Portuguese man-of-war is that it is not an individual animal at all. Nor is it a jellyfish. It is a siphonophore - an entity formed of a colony of tiny animals called zooids.

What kind of life could live in the clouds? — Do you remember seeing clouds from an airplane for the first time? Even if that first time was as an adult, you were probably struck by the appearance of solidity. Seen from above, a cloudscape looks like a landscape - it looks like a place where things might live.

Cycling is a drag act in virtual wind tunnel — IF YOU'RE a keen cyclist, chances are your helmet and bike have been designed to reduce drag. If you're a professional racer, you - or your team - will want to know the aerodynamic impact of everything, from the frame to the quick-release nuts on the front wheel.

World's most endangered seal seen wrestling octopus — In the Odyssey, Homer tells of huge herds of monk seals on the beaches of ancient Greece. But these days they are hardly ever seen - their total population is less than 500, making them the world's most endangered seal.

The common crane and its violin cry — THIS common crane, preening itself at Lake Ganzen in Germany, has an extraordinary adaptation. Its windpipe, or trachea, is three or more times as long as would be expected for a bird of this size - even one with a long neck.

A perfect negative crystal floating in space — MAGNESIUM aluminium oxide sure is a pretty mineral. It forms spinel, a gem coveted throughout history and whose red variant is sometimes confused with ruby. It was used in the Timur Ruby necklace made for Queen Victoria. And an egg-sized lump of the stuff, known as the Black Prince's Ruby, forms the centrepiece of the Imperial Crown.

Tumbling weeds: The rolling invasion of the US — THIS is what an alien invasion looks like. Giant balls of tumbleweed are causing problems across the western US, where prolonged drought and high winds have led to a boom in their numbers. The most common tumbleweed, Kali tragus, isn't native to the US - it is an invader from Eurasia, and is also known as Russian thistle.

21st century nomads: Photos on the road less travelled — THE world, we're often told, is getting smaller. You know that's true when, north of the Arctic Circle, you erect your traditional nomadic tent, or lavvu, under a lamp post and in front of a row of ski jumps (main image). This is Murmansk, in the far north-west of Russia.

The idyllic tropical island - now covered in concrete — WHEN Charles Darwin visited Ascension Island in 1836, he wasn't very impressed. It was little more than a barren volcanic rock, and this rankled him because he felt everything in the British Empire should be productive. So he asked his botanist friend Joseph Dalton Hooker to help carpet the rock with plants.
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Nov 23, 2014

Watch Megwin (Japanese YouTube star) eat a raw ostrich egg

Nov 22, 2014

RT @sumit: Brilliant Easter egg in @NASA's "travel guide" for @NSFVoyager2 encounter with Neptune in 1989

Nov 21, 2014

It's not enough to be in the habitable zone. You need a decent orbit. We have Saturn to thank

Nov 21, 2014

Absolutely love these RT @ImperialSpark: What does your skin mean to you? Short films by Imperial sci comm students…

Nov 21, 2014

Here's a gif of the tapeworm migrating in that unfortunate man's brain

Nov 21, 2014

Morning viewing: watch a tapeworm squirming through a man's brain

Nov 21, 2014

RT @AlastairGale: North Korea may be extracting plutonium from its nuclear reactor to build new bombs.

Nov 20, 2014

Check this out, @justinonweb: the sound of #Philae landing on the comet #clangers

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