World’s Strangest

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Move Over, Rover — Here Comes the Space Hedgehog

Stanford University researchers are working with NASA to design a spiked space apparatus capable of maneuvering efficiently across asteroid and moon surfaces on which low gravity and rough terrain would bog down a regular rover. Scientists nicknamed the robots “hedgehogs” due to their round, spiky appearance. Those working on the project hope to eventually land the ‘hogs on [...]

New project explores risk of robot uprising

Researchers are trying to determine the risk of us being wiped out by our own technological creations. Based at the University of Cambridge, the “Cent…

Scientist: Humans Have Been Getting Stupider for Thousands of Years

Idiocracy wasn’t a movie, but a documentary. Gerald Crabtree, the leader of a genetics laboratory at Stanford University, argues that humans evolved to be hunter/gatherers–a high risk occupation that tended to keep the gene pool tidy. We have departed from that self-correcting lifestyle: Life as a hunter-gatherer was probably more intellectually demanding than widely supposed, he [...]

God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut

Did you know today would have been Kurt Vonnegut’s 90th birthday? In memory of one of the greatest writers of the last century, here is a look back at the author’s incredible life. His Career Choice Was A Bit Surprising Both Kurt’s dad and his grandfather were successful architects who attended MIT, so he no doubt had [...]

Quiz: Britney Spears or Brittany S. Pierce?

“Oops, I did it again!” is something both pop sensation Britney Spears and Glee character Brittany S. Pierce should be saying after their vocal missteps. They’re both infamous for saying wacky things. Can you figure out who said what? Take the quiz: Who Said It – Britney Spears or Brittany S. Pierce? Lauren Baker attends Brescia University [...]

The Most Popular Pages in Medieval Manuscripts

How can you know which pages in a medieval manuscript were the most popular? Kathryn Rudy of the University of St. Andrews reasoned that the finger smudges left by readers would be a good indicator: Using a device that measures the optical density of a reflective surface, Kathryn Rudy of the University of St. Andrews in [...]

Cute Puppy Pics May Be the Key to Better Concentration

Thanks to a new study from Hiroshima University, you can argue that your time spent swooning over adorable puppy pics on Reddit is justified. Turns out, taking a few minutes to look at a photo of something adorable (like Fay, the guide dog puppy featured above) will help you perform your duties more carefully later.  [S]cientists divided [...]

The Illustrated Guide to a Ph.D.

University of Utah computer science professor Matthew Might welcomes his new graduate students each year by explaining a PhD by drawing, literally, “the big picture” in graph form. That series of pictures has become a classic story of pride and knowledge and then a shattering dose of reality, but still ends with “Keep pushing.” Don’t [...]

Why Are First-Year Students Called Freshmen?

Image credit: Duke.edu There was a time when almost every university student was a sophomore.  Well, a sophister, to be exact, but that’s where the word “sophomore” originated. A sophist was a wise man (derived from the Greek word sophos), so when Henry VIII endowed the “new” Cambridge University in the 16th century, it was decided [...]

Job Swapping Changes Honeybee DNA

Honeybees in a hive have fairly identical genes. The queen is the mother, a very few drones are the fathers, and those drones are closely related to each other anyway. But “epigenetic” changes in the DNA, those that switch genes on or off chemically, differ among bees that do different jobs. And bees can change [...]