By Michael Marshall Homo erectus reached Java later than we thoughtAgoes Rudianto/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Ancient humans took hundreds of thousands of years to make the journey from mainland Eurasia to Indonesia, according to a new dating study, perhaps reaching Java half a million years later than we previously thought. Homo erectus was one of the…
By Clare Wilson An illusion that makes people see a rubber hand as their own could help people with OCDSergey Ryzhov / Alamy A bizarre illusion where fake faeces is put on a rubber hand has been tested on people with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) – and may one day become a new treatment. Therapies…
By Michael Le Page What a helpful birdAnette Mertens African grey parrots are not only really smart, they are helpful too. They are the first bird species to pass a test that requires them both to understand when another animal needs help and to actually give assistance. Besides humans, only bonobos and orangutans have passed…
By Leah Crane The launch of a batch of SpaceX’s Starlink satellitesSpaceX photos On 6 January, SpaceX launched 60 Starlink communications satellites into orbit. This brings the number of Starlink satellites in orbit now up to 180, part of a planned fleet of as many as 42,000 spacecraft that SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says will…
By Jessica Hamzelou Public health officials in Thailand hand out disease monitoring information to passengers arriving from Wuhan City, ChinaLauren DeCicca/Getty Images) The virus behind a mysterious pneumonia spreading in China has been identified by Chinese authorities, according to a statement by the World Health Organization. Tests run on 15 of those who are unwell…
The Welsh language could have a successful centuryPhilip Wolmuth/Alamy The Welsh language could be set to thrive over the long-term, according to projections of whether endangered languages will flourish or fail. New Zealand’s native language on the other hand is projected to become extinct. More than half of the world’s estimated 7000 languages are expected…
By Leah Crane An official measures the Rafflesia flower found at Maninjau Forest ConservationXinhua/Alamy Don’t stop to smell the flowers. Indonesian officials may have found the largest flower ever, and it smells awful. The flower belongs to the Rafflesia genus, whose members are known as corpse lilies or corpse flowers due to their odour of…
By Alice Klein Australia’s fires have hit livestock as well as people and wild animalsNew York Times/Redux/Eyevine OUTSIDE Batlow in New South Wales, the scorched remains of wildlife and livestock lie pressed against fences, where they tried in vain to escape the flames that ripped through the area on 4 January. Along with the other…
Environment 8 January 2020 By Alice Klein Sydney, New South WalesAndrew Merry/Getty Last year was Australia’s hottest, driest year ever, according to the annual climate statement of the national Bureau of Meteorology. The conditions have intensified the current wildfires, which are the worst on record. The average daytime maximum temperature across Australia in 2019 was…
Physics | Analysis 8 January 2020 By Debora MacKenzie People march during the funeral of Qassem SoleimaniMajid Saeedi/Getty Images THE risk of Iran getting nuclear weapons has risen this week, as tensions increase after the US assassination of a senior Iranian military official, Qassem Soleimani, on 3 January. His death is the latest example of…
Technology 8 January 2020 By Chris Stokel-Walker The UN is concerned about cyberattacksJacobH/Getty The head of the United Nations’s cybercrime programme has warned the US and Iran not to engage in cyberattacks following the killing of the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani. Neil Walsh, who leads the UN’s cybercrime initiative from Vienna, cautions that targeting computer…
By Michael Le Page A cuttlefish wearing 3D glassesR. Feord Cuttlefish wearing red-green 3D glasses strike accurately at a virtual shrimp moving on a screen. The finding shows that cuttlefish estimate distances by comparing images from each eye, just like we do. This might seem obvious at first. But cuttlefish don’t have forward-facing eyes whose…
By Alice Klein Poor sleep has been linked to Alzheimer’s diseaseViacheslav Peretiatko/Getty Just one sleepless night raises levels of a protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease in the blood of young men. The finding suggests that laying down good sleep habits at an early age may help to ward off the condition. People with Alzheimer’s disease…
By Jessica Hamzelou A mystery illness has broken out in Wuhan City, ChinaJake Wyman/Getty Images At least 59 people in China have become ill with a mysterious viral pneumonia – seven of whom are in a serious condition, according to a local health commission. Chinese authorities still don’t know what has caused the outbreak, but…
By Chris Stokel-Walker The change in year has caused a few issuesDmitrii_Guzhanin/Getty Parking meters, cash registers and a professional wrestling video game have fallen foul of a computer glitch related to the Y2K bug. The Y2020 bug, which has taken many payment and computer systems offline, is a long-lingering side effect of attempts to fix…
By Leah Crane A pair of stars in the constellation Sagitta will become almost as bright as a supernova when they collideLSU Department of Physics & Astronomy A pair of stars doing a cosmic dance are getting ready to explode. The two stars make up a binary called V Sagittae in the constellation Sagitta, and…