Seven days; lots of science in the news. Here’s our roundup of this week’s most notable and quotable items:
India’s Mangalyaan orbiter successfully settled into orbit around Mars. Horses in Australia’s Snowy Mountains have been seen resorting to cannibalism as their numbers soar beyond what the landscape can support, and octopus cannibalism was caught on video for the first time. Earth’s magnetic field may be gearing up to flip sooner than expected, but scientists don’t think it will spell any danger for humanity. A jetpack may eventually allow runners to run a mile in four minutes.
The Neptune-sized planet HAT-P-11b, which orbits a star in the constellation Cygnus, is the smallest exoplanet yet found to contain water. Drought is causing a tumbleweed infestation in Southern California. Up to half of the water in the solar system is older than the sun.
The current Ebola outbreak is still getting worse: Cases are doubling every 16 days in Guinea, every 24 days in Liberia and every 30 days in Sierra Leone. Half of HIV-positive gay men in the U.S. aren’t getting proper medical care. A new analysis of dust in the Milky Way casts doubt on the discovery, announced earlier this year, of a polarization pattern in the cosmic microwave background radiation consistent with gravitational waves. Mysterious 600 million-year-old spherical fossils unearthed in China may be the remains of multicellular organisms, or the embryos of Earth’s earliest animals.
The bacteria in our guts might manipulate our eating habits. Scientists found that young women actually engaged in less sexual behavior after reading the steamy novel Fifty Shades of Grey. A physicist in North Carolina claims to have mathematical proof that black holes do not exist. Whether you find booze tasty or bitter might lie in your genes. Male narwhals with longer tusks have bigger testicles.