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This Week in Science: A Hitchhiking Robot, a Four-Legged Snake, and the Mystery of ‘Hair Ice’ Solved

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(The Week of July 20, 2015)

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

Stephen Hawking is one of the scientific powerhouses lending support to a new 10-year, $100 million effort to find extraterrestrial life by surveying the 1 million stars closest to Earth. (And there’s an Android app for that.)

German scientists are investigating why astronauts’ skin gets thinner in space.

Arctic sea ice recovered a little bit in 2013 thanks to an unusually cool summer, but researchers don’t expect the recovery to last in the long term.

The oceans are warming faster than climate models originally predicted.

June 2015 is the warmest June on record, according to data from three separate agencies.

A fossil specimen of what looks like a 15-centimeter snake, from nose to tail, has four legs, but scientists disagree on whether it is an early snake or an early snake relative.

Studies show that exercise may be beneficial to people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

A robot is hitchhiking across America.

Scientists solve the mystery behind the phenomenon known as “hair ice.”

Observations of cool molecular gas falling in toward the center of a galaxy indicate the fueling of star formation in the early universe.

Three more astronauts made the trek to the International Space Station this week, including astronauts from Russia, Japan and the United States.

New images from New Horizons reveal additional ice mountains on Pluto’s “heart.”

The Philae lander fell silent again, perhaps because its position was shifted by gas emissions on comet 67P’s surface.

“Dadbod” is real: A new study that tracked more than 10,000 men over 20 years found that those who became fathers experienced an average of 2 to 2.6 percent increase in their body mass index (BMI), “a measure of body fat based on height and weight,” while the average man with no kids actually lost weight.

Image: Sarah Peavey

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