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Why Are Dogs So Insanely Happy to See Us When We Get Home?

Unlike a certain companion animal that will go unnamed, dogs lose their minds when reunited with their owners. But it’s not immediately obvious why our canine companions should grant us such an over-the-top greeting—especially considering the power imbalance that exists between the two species. We spoke to the experts… » 7/31/15 11:00am 7/31/15 11:00am

Could a Massive Collision Produce a Subsurface Ocean on Pluto?

Pluto and Charon have captured our hearts and imaginations. But how did these adorably strange worlds form, and what consequences could that have on what we see now? Researcher Amy Barr Mlinar chatted with us about catastrophic collisions, subsurface oceans, and Pluto’s lack of craters. » 7/22/15 8:08am 7/22/15 8:08am

How the Science of Smell is Changing Modern Warfare

The sensory chaos of battle has always posed a challenge to armies hoping to prepare for—and recover from—war. And while it’s clear to most people how sight and sound factor into a soldier’s experience and memory of battle, the smells of combat were, for most of history, largely ignored. But by the eve of the 20th… » 7/17/15 11:21am 7/17/15 11:21am

How to Cope With an Existential Crisis

Despite the weirdness of existence, most of us are able to get on with our lives and avoid debilitating feelings of despair, personal failure, and cosmic meaninglessness. But every once in a while we’re tugged out of our complacency and forced to re-evaluate our lives. Here’s what you need to know about existential… » 7/16/15 1:00pm 7/16/15 1:00pm

When We Discovered Pluto, It Changed How We Saw The Solar System

On the 23rd and 24th of January, 1930, a young astronomer working in Flagstaff, Arizona, scanned a small patch of the night sky. He was taking pictures of star positions, looking for anomalies that would signal movement somewhere at the edge of the solar system. He took the pictures then set them aside, not realizing… » 7/12/15 12:00pm 7/12/15 12:00pm

How Does A Creature Reproduce When It's Four Separate Creatures?

Siphonophores are groups of creatures that live, connected, as one animal. And they’re incredibly confusing — they all have the same DNA. They can’t separate. They work together to achieve one goal. So why are we supposed to think of them as “colonies,” rather than a single entity? » 6/19/15 11:19am 6/19/15 11:19am

This Huge Engineering Project May Be Our Best Chance At Colonizing Space

Space colonization has reached an impasse, for reasons far more fundamental than a lack of money for the Space Shuttle program. There is simply no way humans can travel easily offworld without using massive amounts of rocket fuel to escape the gravity well — and that’s both expensive and environmentally unsustainable.… » 6/15/15 2:06pm 6/15/15 2:06pm

You Can Thank Genetic Engineering For Your Delicious Cheese

It used to be that making cheese meant killing cows. Young cows, specifically—a few days old, at most. The stomach of an unweaned calf produces enzymes that turn liquid milk into good, hard, flavorful cheeses like Parmesan and Cheddar. These enzymes, called rennet, are secreted by mucous membranes that line the calf’s… » 6/15/15 11:57am 6/15/15 11:57am

What Would Happen If All Our Satellites Were Suddenly Destroyed?

Since their inception 60 years ago, satellites have gone on to become an indispensable component of our modern high-tech civilization. But because they’re reliable and practically invisible, we take their existence for granted. Here’s what would happen if all our satellites suddenly just disappeared. » 6/04/15 11:00am 6/04/15 11:00am

The Surprising Connection Between George R.R. Martin And Frank Miller

About 30 years ago, both superhero comics and fantasy novels went through a startling narrative transformation. In comics, narrative captions replaced thought balloons. In books, authors started writing “tight” third person narrative, instead of “omniscient” or first person. Why did this happen?
» 5/28/15 11:00am 5/28/15 11:00am

Darwin Predicted This Animal's Existence Decades Before Its Discovery

Here’s a great Charles Darwin story you may not have heard before: In 1862, the famed naturalist foretold the discovery of an unusual animal, based on his observations of a species of orchid endemic to Madagascar. The creature was ultimately discovered in 1903—some 20 years after Darwin’s death. » 5/13/15 12:00pm 5/13/15 12:00pm

Your Doctor Probably Has A DNR. Here's Why You Should Consider One, Too.

Most patients receiving end-of-life care want to avoid aggressive attempts to prolong their life, but medical culture and practices often contradict these wishes. Part of the problem is due to confusion surrounding do-not-resuscitate orders. Here’s what patients really need to know about the “no code.”
» 5/06/15 12:05pm 5/06/15 12:05pm