Miss out on some thrilling scientific discoveries and bizarre theories? We're on the case. Here's the best of io9's science coverage from the past few days.
Giant ice caverns lead the hunt for exotic particles
This is a gigantic hole that's been melted into the South Pole. It's one of the 100 or so such vertical caves that have been punched into the Antarctic surface as part of the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, which is searching for tiny, almost massless particles known as neutrinos. This remarkable image reveals the incredible lengths scientists have to go in order to detect these ultra small particles.
It's an awesome solution to a simple problem: you need ridiculous amounts of fuel to get a rocket into orbit. However, if the rocket fuel was considerably hotter, it would be more energetic, and you'd need way less fuel to launch the rocket. So why don't we just shoot powerful lasers at rockets? It's so insane that it just might work.
We might just be on the verge of discovering a real Planet X, according to astronomers John Matese and Dan Whitmire. Subtle gravitational influences on comets way out in the Oort Cloud suggest there could be a huge gas giant affecting the other objects, and now NASA's Wise space telescope has given us the data to determine whether the planet really exists or not.
Maps of the world's future coastlines, as sea levels slowly rise
University of Arizona geology researcher Jeremy Weiss has been tracking ways that climate change affects sea levels - in the distant past as well as the future. Given the rate of global warming today, he and his colleagues estimate that by 2100, ocean levels with have risen at least a meter. And it will continue to rise after that. More »
How to rip a phonebook in half despite a total lack of arm strengthLet's face it: You've always wanted to rip a phone book in half. Now that the entire corporate world has a webpage and the entire private world is on facebook, there's no reason to keep phone books around anyway. Ripping one to pieces is practically a public service. You should do it right away! What's stopping you?
Borneo is the third largest island in the world and comprises the nations of Malaysia, Brunei, and parts of Indonesia. It's one of the most incredibly diverse places on the planet, home to 15,000 plant species, 3,000 different trees, 221 different land mammal species, and 420 unique birds. And that number is constantly growing, as 361 new species have been discovered just in the last fifteen years. Here's a look at just a few of the amazing animals that live in the vast Borneo rainforest.
The work of Vincent Van Gogh may be among the greatest artistic achievements in human history, but barely a century after his death his work is already starting to fade. The bright yellows of his paintings are turning to a murky brown. But this isn't any ordinary decay - and scientists used a particle accelerator to figure out the previously-unknown chemical reaction that is slowly destroying the works of the Dutch master.
Deep sea fish assimilating males for extra sperm, flies frozen mid-coitus for 20 million years, and a walrus's penis bone... it's all part of "Sexual Nature", a new exhibition at London's Natural History Museum that spotlights the many awesomely strange forms that animal intercourse can take. Let's go on a stroll through the animal kingdom, shall we?
This image, snapped by the Japanese probe Hinode on February 1, looks way more terrifying than it actually is. Most of the top half of the Sun seems to have fallen into a massive black hole, but it's not quite that dramatic. It's actually a coronal hole, a gigantic opening that allows the Sun to vent excess gas. Still, I'd feel a lot better about this if there wasn't another gigantic hole down at the Sun's south pole.
There's nothing like the feeling of being in love - your heart pounds, you feel floaty, and everything seems just awesome. Unfortunately, if you're relying on another person to give you that loving feeling, you're bound to be disappointed. At some point they'll let you down, break your heart, or just go away for the weekend and leave you feeling bereft and alone. That's why we've come up with 10 ways to unleash the "love hormone" oxytocin in your brain, without all that bother of romancing an actual human.
Every day, the world finds another way to show us that, once we work on a level that's small enough, nothing makes sense. Things we take for granted no longer happen. For instance, say you're lying in bed in the early morning sunlight - or, no judgment, the late afternoon sunlight. If all that daytime starts bothering your eyes, covering up the window would block the light. Or, if you painted the window green, the room would be suffused with green light.
The NASA spaceship that could take humanity into deep space...if we had the money for itThis is the concept design for the Nautilus-X, one of NASA's ideas for crewed deep space explorer. This craft would be launched from the International Space Station (or some other orbital platform) and could take six astronauts on long missions ranging anywhere from one to twenty-four months.
Plants use photosynthesis to turn sunlight into energy every single day. This ability appeared to be completely unknown in the animal kingdom, leaving the living solar battery that is Superman as the only animal to ever harness the sun's rays for power. But now we've discovered that a type of hornet is doing its own homegrown photosynthesis, absorbing sunlight and turning it into useful energy. It's the first animal we've ever discovered that possesses this ability...and we might be able to harness our own version of it for alternative energy.
On earth, we're slowed down by the muck of the everyday world. Matter slows us down, rubbing against us and taking away our speed and power. Gravel, air, even slip-n-slides, exert some friction on us. This frictional force runs counter to our motion, and it can't be escaped anywhere on earth. Eventually, inevitably, it will slow us to a stop.