New Evidence for That Huge Dinosaur Family Tree Rewrite

Remember that paper that dropped a few months ago completely rewriting the dinosaur family tree? Well, the researchers are back, this time using one of the odder dinos out there as evidence for their explosive claim. Is it legit or just hype? Back in March, researchers argued for a total takedown of the long-established dinosaur family tree. Today, Matthew Baron and Paul Barrett, two of the three authors of that previous Nature paper, try to bolster their case with a new look at Chiles

Scientists Cook Up Magic Mushrooms’ Psychedelic Recipe

Scientists have known about psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in "magic mushrooms," ever since Albert Hofmann isolated it in 1958. It's taken until now, however, for them to figure out how it's produced. Researchers at Friedrich Schiller University Jena in Germany sequenced the genomes of two psychedelic mushroom species and used the information to identify four key enzymes involved in the process of creating psilocybin. Knowing how the mushrooms make the compound opens the door to

Why Thousands of Volcanologists are Meeting in Portland

So, this whole week I'll be taking part in the IAVCEI meeting in Portland, Oregon. Of course, most people have never heard of IAVCEI, which is an abbreviation of the International Association of Volcanology and the Chemistry of the Earth's Interior (now you can see why we use the abbreviation.) This meeting is bringing together over 1,200 volcanologists and petrologists (who study magma, not petroleum) from all over world to talk about volcanoes. We will even be visiting volcanoes during

Why Are Oddly Satisfying Videos So…Satisfying?

If you've never seen a master lathe operator at work, I highly recommend it. Deft movements and practiced flourishes turn a block of spinning wood into a bedpost, top, bowl or some other circular object, each motion peeling away curls of wood to uncover the beauty hidden inside. It's hard to explain why the motions feel so right, but there is an undeniable allure to the work, as if it scratches an itch you didn't know you had. As it will, the internet discovered lathe turners — and pas

Having a beer might help get your creative juices flowing.

Feeling stuck on a problem? This study suggests that having a drink might help! Here, scientists gave one group of volunteers beer, and another group non-alcoholic beer. They then tested the creative thinking ability of each group. Turns out that very light drinking (about one beer) improved creative thinking, but made other cognitive abilities worse or unchanged. So the next time you find yourself really stuck, consider having a small drink -- just don't plan on doing your taxes or driving

Total Eclipse: Solar Research Thrives in Darkness

Scientists study our turbulent star and its dynamic relationship with Earth.

Nearly 100 Volcanoes Discovered Beneath Antarctica’s Ice

You could say Antarctica sings a song of fire and ice. The continent's frigid reputation is well known, but researchers from the University of Edinburgh analyzed radar scans of the West Antarctic Rift System and found 138 volcanoes hiding under the thick ice sheet. Of those, 91 were previously unidentified, they say, and the discovery could change our understanding of how the overlaying ice layer grows and shrinks. Hidden Volcanoes The West Antarctic Rift is bounded by the Transantarcti

Call of MRI: Action Video Games And The Brain

No sooner had I published my last post, on the much-discussed "women's brains are more active than men's" study, than another neuroscience paper triggered a fresh media storm. This time, the subject was videogames, and the headlines were alarming: Playing shooter video games damages the brain, study suggests Violent shooter video games really DO rot your brain Playing these video games could lead to brain disease Here's the paper, published in Molecular Psychiatry by University of M

In Paris, a Glimpse of Public Transportation’s Driverless Future

France may be famous for its cheese and wine, but it’s also a longtime leader in driverless transit. Paris boasted one of the earliest models of automatic trains in 1983, when two metro lines ran without a conductor onboard. And the push toward driverless transportation continues in this city, with several planned upgrades before it plays host to the summer Olympics in 2024. So it was with high expectations and a sense of history that I boarded the driverless Line 1 to the bustling busine

Wait, What Happened in Cuba?

U.S.-Cuban relations have taken an unusual turn after several U.S. diplomats, and at least one Canadian diplomat, experienced hearing damage after being targeted by a covert “sonic device” in Havana. Huh? A what? On Wednesday, U.S. officials who spoke to the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity revealed that in the fall on 2016, at least five U.S. diplomats began experiencing unexplainable hearing loss and other physical symptoms while serving at the embassy in Havana—so sever

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