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How The Biggest Animal On Earth Got So Big

Enlarge this image A blue whale, the largest animal on the planet, engulfs krill off the coast of California. Silverback Films/BBC/Proceedings of the Royal Society B hide caption toggle caption Silverback Films/BBC/Proceedings of the Royal Society B Whales are the largest animals on the planet, but they haven’t always been giants. Fossil records show that ancient whales were much smaller than the currently living behemoths. So when did whales get so big, and how? A new study suggests it might be due to changes in climate that affected the food…

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3.3 Million Year Old Fossil Sheds Light On How The Spine Evolved

Enlarge this image This is a vertebrae of the Selam skeleton. Zeray Alemseged, University of Chicago hide caption toggle caption Zeray Alemseged, University of Chicago A remarkably complete fossil of a young child suggests that key elements of the human spinal structure were already in place in an ancient human relative 3.3 million years ago. The child, about three years old, likely died suddenly and quickly drifted into a body of water, where she was covered in sediment that eventually hardened to sandstone, Zeray Alemseged of the University of Chicago…

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Me, Myself, and IKEA: What Our Love For Swedish Furniture Says About Narcissism

Enlarge this image Modern psychology shows that we all have a little bit of Narcissus in us. Most of us like people who remind us of ourselves — whether that is someone else with the same name or the same birthday. Renee Klahr hide caption toggle caption Renee Klahr It’s normal to feel drawn to people you share something with — whether that’s a name, or a birthday, or a shared profession or background. But Brett Pelham finds this preference for things and people associated with us goes far beyond…

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At 94, Lithium-Ion Pioneer Eyes A New Longer-Lasting Battery

Enlarge this image John Goodenough’s work led to the lithium-ion battery, now found in everything from phones to electric cars. He and fellow researchers at the University of Texas at Austin say they’ve come up with a faster-charging alternative. Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT hide caption toggle caption Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT Building a better battery is the Holy Grail for people who want better technology. Now researchers at the University of Texas at Austin say they may have found that battery — or something close. But their claims have sparked controversy. At…

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Pediatricians Advise No Fruit Juice Until Kids Are 1

Enlarge this image For children over 1 year old, pediatricians strongly recommend whole fruit instead of juice, because it contains fiber, which slows the absorption of sugar and fills you up the way juice doesn’t. KathyDewar/Getty Images hide caption toggle caption KathyDewar/Getty Images Kids under the age of 1 should avoid fruit juice, older kids should drink it only sparingly and all children should focus, instead, on eating whole fruit, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The pediatricians’ group previously advised against giving fruit juice to infants under 6…

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Cloud Eggs: The Latest Instagram Food Fad Is Actually Centuries Old

Enlarge this image Cloud eggs: It’s not just Instagrammers who find them pretty. Chefs of the 17th century whipped them up, too. Then, as now, they were meant to impress. Maria Godoy/NPR hide caption toggle caption Maria Godoy/NPR They’re seemingly unavoidable on Instagram these days: photos of bright yellow egg yolks nestled in a fluffy bed of egg whites, like the sun framed by billowy clouds. They’re called cloud eggs, and they’re pretty enough to look like a taste of heaven … which is probably why people are obsessively whipping…

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Why Brain Scientists Are Still Obsessed With The Curious Case Of Phineas Gage

Enlarge this image Cabinet-card portrait of brain-injury survivor Phineas Gage (1823–1860), shown holding the tamping iron which injured him. Wikimedia hide caption toggle caption Wikimedia It took an explosion and 13 pounds of iron to usher in the modern era of neuroscience. In 1848, a 25-year-old railroad worker named Phineas Gage was blowing up rocks to clear the way for a new rail line in Cavendish, Vt. He would drill a hole, place an explosive charge, then pack in sand using a 13-pound metal bar known as a tamping iron….

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Why Brain Scientists Are Still Obsessed With The Curious Case Of Phineas Gage

Enlarge this image Cabinet-card portrait of brain-injury survivor Phineas Gage (1823–1860), shown holding the tamping iron which injured him. Wikimedia hide caption toggle caption Wikimedia It took an explosion and 13 pounds of iron to usher in the modern era of neuroscience. In 1848, a 25-year-old railroad worker named Phineas Gage was blowing up rocks to clear the way for a new rail line in Cavendish, Vt. He would drill a hole, place an explosive charge, then pack in sand using a 13-pound metal bar known as a tamping iron….

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Scientists Sneak A Peek At How Ladybugs Fold Their Wings

Credit: University of Tokyo With the help of high-speed cameras, CT scanners and some nail-art supplies, scientists in Japan have managed to catch a glimpse of the elaborate way that ladybugs fold their wings to tuck them away. The research could have implications for everything from aeronautics to umbrellas. The study, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, explored how ladybugs can have wings strong enough to fly with, but quickly collapsible so they can be tucked out of the way. The wings, after all,…

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We Have Always Been Bored — ‘Yawn’ Wonders Why

Boredom is a going concern, particularly in a Western culture over-saturated with things designed to make every moment count. Freelance researcher Mary Mann began writing Yawn: Adventures in Boredom because she was concerned with her own restlessness; was she succumbing to the depression that ran in her family? Was modern malaise taking hold? Was she fundamentally ungrateful for life, as her parents had always suggested about bored people? If she was broken, was there a cure? (And if you’re already rolling your eyes at Mann, this is not going to…

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