Scienceline Staff Picks

Comets, cannibalistic bears and Facebook

Our favorites from the week

December 17, 2011

From Justine E. Hausheer:

Double duty: research on underwater earthquakes is used to help study whales. Seismic detectors on the ocean floor also pick up faint whale calls, helping researchers track their movements.

Another staff pick from Science Now: A photograph captured a striking shot of polar bear cannibalism. Arctic biologists suggest that intraspecies predation could increase as global warming limits the bear’s habitat.

Slash and tear, or pin and rip? Great coverage by Ed Yong on Deinonychus, a predatory dinosaur with massive claws. New research suggest that Deinonychus killed by pinning down prey with its claws, like modern birds of  prey.

From Taylor Kubota:

This New York Times article about an ancient squidlike animal is a fascinating reminder of the wild and crazy things that inhabited the Earth before us. The eyes of this guy had 16,000 lenses and, lucky for us, they were beautifully preserved in fossilized form.

The title of this Wired article really says it all: NASA Builds Six-Foot Crossbow to Harpoon Comets.” It sounds like the actual use of this space spear is pretty far off but, in the meantime, it’s cool to imagine harpooning a comet.

While not as visually enticing as these other two, this Discover magazine story covers a monumental event in the world of medical research this week. A gene therapy treatment that cured hemophilia in mice has proven successful in four humans. More trials are to come but this is a very encouraging breakthrough, both for the researchers in this field and people affected by this disease.

From Benjamin Plackett:

Your whole life on one page? The new look (again) of Facebook organizes your profile by year, your whole life really could be on one page.

Theory debunked! Ever heard the popular myth that men think of sex once every seven seconds? Well, it seems that men think about sex a lot less frequently, ‘just’ 19 times a day!

Morocco backs out (possibly illegally) from a fishing quota deal with the EU, ordering foreign fishing ships to leave their waters.

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