Just when we thought we knew it all, scientists have discovered that there are microbes that eat electricity, which is about as strange as people snacking by shoving a finger in an electric socket. What’s more, these microbes are very common. Whenever scientists have searched for electron eaters in the right places, they’ve always found them. They’ve remained invisible so long because they don’t grow well in science laboratories. Arpita Bose describes these fantastic bugs in a new animation.
As everyone has probably heard, antibiotics are less and less effective and there are fewer and fewer replacements for failing drugs in the pipeline. So what would happen if you got an infection that was resistant to all the known antibiotics? Would you die, or is there something else doctors could try as a last resort? One surprising answer is that they might treat you with viruses from pond sludge. As Fredrik Inglis explains, this is an old remedy that is now getting a new look.
Lately its been fashionable to say that hunter/gatherers lived better than we do. They had more free time, they followed more natural sleep cycles, and so on. But is our picture of hunter/gatherer society right? A giant earth mound in Louisiana suggests we know less than we think. Anthropologist Tristram R. Kidder explains.
Scientists find gravity very puzzling. For one thing, they don’t understand is why it is so weak; that is, why it takes so much stuff (like a planet’s worth) to generate much gravitational force. Perhaps, they say, it is leaking out of our universe. Physicist Adam Archibald explains how this could be and describes an experiment to detect leaks.
We take so many things for granted. Why do trees grow only so tall and no taller? Why do some potatoes have those mysterious brown holes in them? And why do plants grow right-side up instead of upside-down? Eric Hamilton explores the question.
Pulsars are dead stars that emit intense beams of radio waves that sweep through space with the regularity of a clock. That’s strange enough but what’s even stranger, they sometimes speed up — in a universe where the norm is for everything to slow down. What could possibly give them the extra energy?
What do you do if you are trying to save a very rare and shy animal? How do you even find one? Joseph Orkin, a postdoctoral research associate in anthropology, called in Pinkerton. No, not the detective agency. The dog.
One of the more unbelievable things they tell you in school is that if you drop two objects of different weights they will hit the ground at the same time. Is that really true?
Think being color blind is a disadvantage? Washington University anthropologist Amanda Melin says don't be so sure. Color blindness actually may give some animals, and people, a competitive edge.
Ever wonder where we really came from? Washington University researcher Cole D. Pruitt explains the connection between the world around us, burping stars and nuclear pasta.