Flashback Friday: Scientists catch male spiders giving oral sex.

Darwin’s bark spiders are hands down the best spiders: they make giant webs that can span 25-meter-wide rivers, their silk is one of the strongest materials known to man, and, according to this study, male Darwin’s bark spiders give their mates oral sex. That is, if you define oral sex as “salivat[ing] onto female genitalia pre-, during, and post-copulation.” I know I do. Spider behaviors include oral sexual encounters. “Several clades of spiders whose females evolved giant sizes are k

‘Man Flu’ and Giant Wine Glasses: The BMJ’s Christmas Issue

Scientists aren’t always considered to be the most festive group of people. But The British Medical Journal does its part to celebrate the spirit of the holidays with its annual Christmas issue. Once a year, the journal opens submissions for studies with a slightly lighter tone, but just as much science. The key to inclusion in the Christmas issue is originality and clever ideas — not bad science. “While we welcome light-hearted fare and satire, we do not publish spoofs, hoaxes, or fabric

This Apollo Rocket Stage was Smashed for Science

Within 10 minutes of a Saturn V launch, the first two stages had fallen away as the spacecraft settled into Earth orbit. Within another 10 minutes, both stages had crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. They weren't recovered for reuse; their jobs were done before the half hour mark on any lunar flight. But the third stage of the Saturn V lived on, following crews all the way to the Moon. Once there is was also left to crash, but this time it was smashed for science.  [embed]https://youtu.be/kD

The Roller Coaster Designed to Kill

I have a friend who loves roller coasters. He once told me, a fellow coaster-head, “You ever get the feeling that most people say they like roller coasters, but then when they’re in a park they just ride one or two of them and call it a day?” I nodded in the shared sentiment. All of that said, there’s at least one roller coaster that I, or my friend, am not interested in trying out: the "Euthanasia Coaster." Truth in Advertising It’s exactly what it sounds: A roller coaster designed

Drones, Volcanoes and the ‘Computerisation’ of the Earth

The eruption of the Agung volcano in Bali, Indonesia has been devastating, particularly for the 55,000 local people who have had to leave their homes and move into shelters. It has also played havoc with the flights in and out of the island, leaving people stranded while the experts try to work out what the volcano will do next. But this has been a fascinating time for scholars like me who investigate the use of drones in social justice, environmental activism and crisis preparedness. The

Peering into Erupting Volcanoes Is a Real Challenge

Monitoring volcanoes is really hard. Not only are you trying to deduce what a volcano is going to do using context clues like earthquakes, gas emissions and deformation, but once an eruption starts, trying to get a peak at what is coming out at the vent is downright dangerous. New technology like drones and satellites have allowed us to more clearly see what is happening where we couldn't before, and these new data can help volcanologists better understand what a volcano might be doing next.

Virtual Reality Can Help Convict Nazi War Criminals

During World War II, Reinhold Hanning served as a guard at the Auschwitz concentration camp where more than 1.1 million people were killed by Nazi Germany. More than 70 years later, a virtual recreation of Auschwitz helped German prosecutors convict Hanning of being an accessory to the murder of 170,000 people. Now a new documentary film explores how the virtual model of Auschwitz can be viewed through virtual reality headsets in future court cases involving the last surviving Nazi war crimi

A Geoengineered Future Is Downright Scary

Climate change seems inevitable. Between the still-accelerating pace of greenhouse gas emissions and the voices of global warming deniers, hitting the targets laid out in the Paris Accord to slow the pace of a warming climate feels increasingly elusive. To hit even the 2 degree Celsius cap on a global temperature increase, emissions would need to peak in 2020, or less than three years from now, and keep going down after that. We could do it, but will we? If we can't change our behavio

A major federal report finds that the speed of Arctic warming is unprecedented in 2,000 years

The peer-reviewed report involving 85 scientists finds that the Arctic environmental system has reached a "new normal" It's a common refrain doubters of human-caused global warming: Temperatures now are no higher than they were during the Medieval Warm Period from about 800 to 1400 AD. Never mind that a major paper put this idea to rest in 2013. I still have this flawed argument thrown at me when I write about climate issues. And I would not be surprised if that happens again with this p

The Mysterious Asteroid Behind the Year’s Best Meteor Shower

Step outside after dark this week and you can watch chunks of an asteroid burn up in Earth’s atmosphere. Behold, the Geminid meteor shower, which is renowned as the year’s best. At peak Geminids, you could catch a shooting star every minute, and this year the moon won't be bright enough to foul the show. That main action arrives just past 9 p.m. local time Wednesday and lasts until dawn. “The Geminids are rich in fireballs and bright meteors so that makes them very good to observe,” says

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