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This Week in Science: Drunken Chimps and lonely galaxies

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(The Week of June 8, 2015)

Seven days, lots of science in the news. Here’s our roundup of some of the week’s most notable and quotable items:

Saturn’s Phoebe ring, discovered in 2009, is much larger than originally thought—270 times the size of the planet itself.

Wild chimpanzees in Guinea regularly get drunk on fermented palm tree sap. (Wonder if it helps with their anxiety issues?)

Chimpanzees around the world, whose population has declined from around a million at the beginning of the 20th century to an estimated 172,000-300,000 today, are now protected as “endangered” species, regardless of whether they live in the wild or are held in captivity.

For the first time, a baby was born using transplanted ovary tissue frozen back when the mother was a child.

Thanks to quantum optics technology, researchers found that our eyes seem to be sensitive enough to react to light flashes made up of just three photons.

The Hubble Space Telescope snapped photos of NGC 6503, a dwarf galaxy located 18 million light-years away from Earth and one of the loneliest galaxies ever, as it resides in an empty patch of space outside our galaxy cluster dubbed the Local Void.

Two years ago British teenager Tom Wagg spotted a tiny dip “in light caused by a planet passing in front of its star,” a discovery that may make him the youngest person to have discovered a planet. Two years later, Wagg’s planet has now been confirmed, and there’s a competition on to name it.

Some robots might end up taking your job, but other robots might save your life one day.

LightSail, a privately-funded project that uses the pressure exerted by photons from the sun to propel a tiny spacecraft, successfully launched and deployed its solar sail.

At present, we would only have about an hours’ notice if a huge solar storm was about to strike Earth—but one group of researchers thinks they’ve come up with a way to sound the alarm 24 hours before it hits.

After Nobel laureate Tim Hunt commented about his “trouble with girls” in science labs, scientists, both male and female, responded. Many took to Twitter with hashtags like #distractinglysexy.

The milk-colored rain that fell on the Pacific Northwest this past February was caused by dust from a dry shallow lakebed in Oregon.

Scientists are still trying to figure out why the return leg of a journey feels like it takes more time than the outward bound one—but only after the whole trip is complete.

Dreadnoughtus, once thought to be the clear winner for the biggest dinosaur ever at 60 tons, may have actually only weighed a sprightly 30-40 tons.

The Fore people in Papua New Guinea harbor a genetic mutation that protects against incurable brain diseases like kuru and Creutzfeldt-Jakob diease.


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