Grab your basket and blanket, July is Picnic Month!

This month it’s exceptionally easy to celebrate by simply grabbing your meal and bringing it outside! Lots of creatures will likely join you during your meal en plein air, so this is a good opportunity to say hello and take note as some sing you songs, some attempt to take a nibble of your food… and others yet who may attempt to take a nibble of you! While you’re enjoying the fresh air, here are six citizen science projects that you can do from the comfort of your own picnic blanket. Chee

Hiking in the Appalachian Mountains? Here’s How You Can Contribute to Science While You’re At It

Hitting the trails for the long holiday weekend? Here’s a citizen science project you can contribute if you’re exploring the Appalachian Mountains, which stretch all the way from Georgia to Maine. Happy trails!  ~The SciStarter Editorial Team Hikers in the Appalachian mountains contribute data and help researchers learn how climate change is affecting plants living in high Alpine ranges and promote conservation in the face of these changes. Learn more about Mountain Watch, the citizen scien

Butterflies Really Seem To Like Drinking Cougar Pee

The sight of dozens of butterflies congregated in one spot might be beautiful, but if you know what they're actually doing, you might not want to get too close. When butterflies get together like this, it's usually to slurp up some nutritional goodies from an unexpected source—like, oh I don't know, animal pee. This behavior is often called "puddling" or "mudding", though the insects don't just suck on damp earth. To get missing nutrients like sodium which aren't common in the nectars the

Speeding Interstellar Object ‘Oumuamua Is A Comet, Not An Asteroid

Ever since Rob Weryk first spotted ‘Oumuamua zipping through the solar system in October 2017, the peculiar object has been the target of intense scrutiny for astronomers from around the globe. After confirming the suspected asteroid reached a maximum speed of nearly 200,000 miles per hour during its closest approach to the Sun (and is shaped like a cigar), researchers quickly shifted their focus to determining the composition and origin of this mysterious object. In a study published thi

A Farewell to Arms

Hello friends! After 8 years and 679 posts, the time has come for me to wrap up this blog. Most cephalopods don't live more than a year or two, so I've been very lucky. I started Inkfish when I was working as a magazine editor; I wanted an outlet to share scientific stories that excited me with my friends and family, and maybe—I hoped—some other readers. Later I moved from good old Blogspot to the blog network Field of Science, and finally to Discover. I wrote about many weird animals,

Flashback Friday: Did Mozart have Tourette syndrome?

When you think of Mozart, you probably imagine an 18th century gentleman who was always thinking about music. Well, it turns out that when not composing musical masterpieces, Mozart liked to talk about "shooting off his rear-end gun".  He was such a huge fan of potty humor that some historians, after reading a series of letters that Mozart wrote to his female cousin (the Bäsle letters), have proposed that he suffered from Tourette syndrome. Here, the author refutes that interpretation, instead a

A Real-life R2-D2 is Heading to Space

If you’ve been fantasizing about a real-life Hal or R2-D2, then your dreams are about to come true. Or at least, partly. The German Aerospace Center commissioned aircraft manufacturer Airbus and artificial intelligence designers at IBM to create CIMON (Crew Interactive Mobile Companion), the first AI-based astronaut assistant. CIMON, who is 11 pounds and about the size of a basketball, is a free-flying object who will help International Space Station commander Alexander Gerst with complex

The Long History of Research Behind A Little Plink

Utilizing modern high-speed video and audio capture techniques, researchers from the University of Cambridge are confident they have found the culprit behind one of the more aggravating household sounds — the dripping tap. Exactly what causes the recognizable 'plink' of dripping water when it lands into a liquid surface is revealed in a study recently released in Nature. Right in the Middle of the Picture Despite decades of access to modern conveniences, scientists have been scratching th

Scientists Look Again, Still Don’t Find Cap on Human Lifespan

What would it be like to live forever? The thought has likely crossed your mind. But you soon sober up — it ain’t going to happen. Nevertheless, the idea of living longer than your parents and grandparents is not farfetched. Better lifestyles (such as exercising regularly and not smoking) and better medical care have helped increase longevity in developed countries. People who otherwise would have died in their 60s from age-related diseases are living into their 80s and 90s. Live Long an

Crows Can Build Tools From Memory

There’s no denying crows are smart. They can remember where food has been hidden, recognize faces and craft tools. And, according to a new paper in Scientific Reports, some crows can even make those tools from memory. This skill may point to these clever corvids having a sort of culture of their own. Brainy Birds Researchers, led by Sarah Jelbert at the University of Cambridge, worked specifically with New Caledonian crows. These birds, native to the islands of New Caledonia east of Au

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