Seven days; lots of science in the news. Here’s our roundup of this week’s most notable and quotable items:
35,000 walruses came ashore on an Alaskan beach, seeking a resting place in lieu of their preferred perch, sea ice, which is becoming rarer in the Arctic. Five separate studies say Australia’s record-smashing 2013 heat wave was a consequence of man-made climate change. Scientists discovered a huge rectangular shape buried beneath the surface of the moon, possibly the remnants of ancient rift valleys created as the early moon cooled. Acupuncture was found to be useless in treating chronic knee pain.
Researchers found a massive cloud of hydrogen cyanide ice over the south pole of Saturn’s moon Titan. Drought and irrigation has completely drained the eastern basin of the Aral Sea, once the fourth-largest lake in the world. A change in a single gene may have split monarch butterfly populations into migratory and homebody cohorts. New York City’s Central Park is home to at least 170,000 different kinds of microbes, including 2,000 species that have been found nowhere else in the world.
A new theory on the origin of cancer speculates that rapid, uncontrolled growth and proliferation may be a kind of “safe mode” for cells—suggesting that treatments like oxygen and immunotherapy may be the best road to take. The secret to a hit pop song, according to science: backup singers. So much ice has melted in West Antarctica that its caused a slight dip in Earth’s gravitational field over that region.
The extinct saber-toothed cat may have used its impressive upper fangs like an old-fashioned can opener. Thailand’s government unveiled a robot designed to detect inauthentic Thai food. Some sharks are social, while others are shy. Researchers developed a new genetic test to find dog poop in water.