(LEFT TO RIGHT): PEXELS; UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER LABORATORY FOR LASER ENERGETICS/EUGENE KOWALUK; QIANG SUN AND MU-MING POO/CHINESE ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

Top stories: Deafening rooster crows, record-breaking lasers, and twin monkey clones

How roosters protect themselves from their own deafening crows

A rooster’s crow is so loud, it can deafen you if you stand too close. So how do the birds keep their hearing? According to a new study, when a bird’s beak is fully open—as it is when crowing—a quarter of the ear canal completely closes and soft tissue covers 50% of the eardrum. This means roosters aren’t capable of hearing their own crows at full strength—even if you are. 

Physicists are planning to build lasers so powerful they could rip apart empty space

Chinese physicists are breaking records with the most powerful pulses of light the world has ever seen. In 2016, their laser—called the Shanghai Superintense Ultrafast Laser Facility—achieved an unprecedented 5.3 million billion watts. The researchers are now upgrading their laser and hope to beat their own record by the end of this year with a shot that would pack more than 1000 times the power of all the world's electrical grids combined.

These monkey twins are the first primate clones made by the method that developed Dolly

Chinese scientists have produced two genetically identical long-tailed macaques using the same technique that gave us Dolly the sheep, the world’s first cloned mammal. The feat is a first for nonhuman primates, and it could one day lead to batches of genetically uniform monkeys for biomedical research. In the meantime, ethical questions abound.

Scientists’ Doomsday Clock reaches 2 minutes to midnight, closest ever

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced this week that it has moved its Doomsday Clock to 2 minutes before midnight, 30 seconds closer than last year, and the nearest we’ve been to annihilation since the world’s first hydrogen bombs were tested in 1952. The Bulletin attributed the uptick in danger to North Korea’s recent tests of missiles and nuclear weapons and the world’s lack of progress in confronting climate change.

Dopamine may have given humans our social edge over other apes

Humans are the ultimate social animals, with the ability to bond with mates, communicate through language, and make small talk with strangers on a packed bus. A new study suggests that the evolution of our unique social intelligence may have initially begun as a simple matter of brain chemistry, specifically neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.