A neutron-star merger is getting all the attention as our scientific Breakthrough of the Year. But what about slimy hagfish and massive arctic balloons?
Every year, we compile some of our favorite online stories. They aren’t always about the biggest advances in science, but rather, are some of our most popular, exclusive, or undiscovered articles.
We often talk to our dogs using the same high-pitched gobbledygook that we use with our babies. But do our dogs care? This study suggests that they do, at least when they’re puppies, and that using baby talk with your dog may even help it learn words.
Indigenous people living at high latitudes have long claimed that auroras make clapping sounds. Others say meteors hiss as they arc through the sky. Now, science is lending credence to these observations.
The jawless, eellike hagfish isn’t much to look at. But hagfish are masters of contortion, able to squeeze through remarkably tight spaces and tear flesh off the carcasses they feed on by twisting themselves into knots. Watch them in the act in the accompanying video.
It’s a growing practice around the world, and celebrities like Kim Kardashian West have touted its benefits. But will it really make a new mom feel like a million bucks? Scientists are on the case, and their initial findings are not encouraging.
Here’s some news you can use: Why do your shoelaces come undone—and what can you do to stop them? The work has implications beyond your sneakers, potentially informing everything from surgery to new cancer drugs.
Wi-Fi is seemingly everywhere, and when it’s not available, we get huffy. But wireless networking may be doing more than you bargained for. Physicists have found a way to use the radio waves to create 3D images of objects, in principle enabling outsiders to “see” the inside of a room using only the Wi-Fi signals leaking out of it.
Call it the world’s smallest pharmacy. Researchers have discovered that wood ants protect their colonies from disease by crafting a potent antibiotic made of tree resin and poison from their own bodies. It’s one of the most sophisticated examples of animal pharmacology, scientists say.
Sometimes errors stick around in the scientific literature because no one bothers to go back and check them. And sometimes they persist for decades, as seems to have happened with monarch butterflies being assigned the wrong number of chromosomes. This scientific detective story reveals what happened—and why not everyone agrees the mystery has been solved.
Here’s a question you probably never thought about: How do you build tunnels in arctic snow to house your research station, with no infrastructure or building materials in sight? The answer: balloons the shape of giant hot dogs. Just don’t deflate them too soon.
The epic poems of ancient Greece have some grounding in reality, this story reveals. Odysseus and Agamemnon may have been fictitious, but ancient DNA suggests they were based on real people. It’s a fun history lesson—and one of our most popular stories of the year.