Top Stories: Plastic Rocks, Cool Koalas, and Burning Calories

(Left to right): Steve Griffiths; Patricia Corcoran; NASA/JPL-Caltech

Top Stories: Plastic Rocks, Cool Koalas, and Burning Calories

Rocks Made of Plastic Found on Hawaiian Beach

Plastic may be with us a lot longer than we thought. A new type of rock made from plastic, volcanic rock, sand, seashells, and corals has begun forming on the shores of Hawaii. The discovery adds to the debate about whether humanity’s heavy hand in natural processes warrants the formal declaration of a new epoch of Earth history called the Anthropocene.

How Did the Moon Really Form?

Scientists have long believed that our moon was formed after another planet crashed into Earth, destroying itself and shooting out debris that eventually coalesced into our lone lunar satellite. There’s one problem: Studies of the chemical composition of Earth and moon rocks don’t fit this model. Now, a new analysis of moon rocks has uncovered evidence to support the theory—and to explain the mystery of the moon's chemical makeup.

Science Moneyball: The Secret to a Successful Academic Career

For biomedical researchers who aspire to run their own labs, the secret is to publish frequently, as first author, and in top journals. That career advice may seem obvious, but this time it’s backed up by a new analysis of data scraped from PubMed, the massive public repository of biological abstracts. See what your chances are using Science’s PI Predictor graph.

A New Way to Burn Calories

What if you could trick your body into thinking you were racing on a treadmill—and burning off calories—while simply walking down the street? A new study in mice explores how we can activate immune cells to make this happen—and how the process can help fight obesity and diabetes.

Trees Become Refrigerators for Koalas

When they hug acacia trees, koalas aren’t just trying to keep from falling—the trees help the marsupials cool off, researchers have discovered. The cool tree trunks stop them from overheating, suggesting that koalas need more than just eucalyptus to survive.

Key Researcher Agrees to Retract Both Disputed Stem Cell Papers

Earlier this year, two papers reported that simply stressing adult cells could turn them into powerful stem cells called STAP (stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency) cells—and immediately drew accusations of plagiarism and image manipulation. Now, despite steadfastly defending her work, the lead author behind the papers has finally agreed to retract them both.