Before A Solar Eclipse, The Whole World Goes Wavy

If you've seen a solar eclipse, you know that just before the sun is hidden from view something very strange happens. Shadows start swirling, as if the light from the sun is shining through a heat haze. The phenomenon is called "shadow bands." » 3/16/15 10:21am 3/16/15 10:21am

Cows Are Deadlier Than You Ever Knew

Every year, cows kill more people than sharks. And yet nobody ever makes a horror movie about them, and there's no Cow Week. These deadly beasts have managed to stay completely under the radar... until now. Find out just why cows are so deadly. » 3/12/15 11:00am 3/12/15 11:00am

The Time That Charles Babbage Tried To Summon The Devil

Charles Babbage was one of the fathers of computing, but in addition to his fascination with mathematics and engineering, he had a curiosity with the occult. Starting from an early age, Babbage wondered if the existence of God and paranormal phenomena could be proven scientifically — and he started by trying to… » 3/05/15 11:00am 3/05/15 11:00am

How Scientists Have Made Bullets Out Of Light

Light bullets are not the deadly things their names make them out to be. They are, however, decidedly weird. To make a light bullet, researchers have to make a pulse of laser light that is continuously re-focusing itself. » 3/02/15 12:00pm 3/02/15 12:00pm

Friendship Is More Powerful Than We Ever Imagined

Friendship is powerful — everything from pop culture tells us so. But how powerful is it? Turns out that friendship has all sorts of properties, that include making you healthier, increasing your self-awareness and helping you accomplish way more. Here are all the ways science proves that friendship really is magic. » 2/27/15 11:14am 2/27/15 11:14am

How Nanoscale Optics Create Nature's Most Dazzling Colors

What do a butterfly's shimmering wings, a fish's opalescent scales, and a peacock's brilliant feathers have in common? Yes, their colors are beautifully iridescent. But they are also produced by the physical interaction of light with sophisticated nanoscale architecture that we are only just beginning to understand. » 2/19/15 2:14pm 2/19/15 2:14pm

Why Doesn't English Have A Gender-Neutral Pronoun?

Referring to a single person who may be of any gender in English can be tricky. It can be awkward to use words like "one" or phrases like "he or she," and many a grammarian hates using "they" as to refer to a single person. How has English gotten this far without such a convenient pronoun? Actually, it hasn't. » 2/17/15 9:10am 2/17/15 9:10am

How Does The Scoville Scale Measure The Exact Hotness Of A Pepper?

The hottest chili ever measured rates a whopping 1,569,300 Scoville Heat Units, but what exactly does that mean? Where does the Scoville Scale come from? What exactly does it measure? And how do we end up with such a precise number to describe the heat sensation a pepper can produce? » 2/16/15 12:00pm 2/16/15 12:00pm

What Does "OK" Stand For, Anyway?

As a linguistic phrase, OK is something of a phenomenon, traveling from American English into hundreds of other languages. And there are tons of myths about how OK emerged to mean that things are hunky-dory. But which story is correct? The truth is a little bit goofy. » 2/12/15 9:00am 2/12/15 9:00am

Why Are Sea Levels Dropping In Places Closest To The Melting Glaciers?

Our dynamic planet has an apparent paradox: the more ice melts from landlocked glaciers, the lower the sea level gets in nearby areas. How does this happen? Through the physics of isostatic rebound, when the surface of the planet acts as an elastic sheet dimpling and rebounding under changing loads. » 2/09/15 11:10am 2/09/15 11:10am

Stop Cutting Off Your Pet Dogs' Tails, America

Tail docking, the practice of removing part of a puppy's tail early in life, has been banned or restricted in many parts of the world, but in the US and parts of Canada, you can still dock your dog's tail for cosmetic reasons. Here's why it doesn't make sense to subject your non-working dog to this traumatic procedure. » 2/05/15 11:00am 2/05/15 11:00am

How Americans Changed The Way Japanese People Ate Sushi

Sushi has taken on its own shape and form in the United States, but even before the first sushi restaurants opened up in California, America had an impact on the type of sushi eaten in Japan. During the American occupation after World War II, a food rationing program helped the rise of nigiri outside Tokyo. » 1/30/15 11:24am 1/30/15 11:24am

Here's Why Small Black Holes Are More Dangerous Than Big Ones

If you were going to travel close to a black hole in order to study it, which type should you choose? Most people would probably pick a smaller black hole, because it seems easier to avoid. But that's a fatal mistake. Small black holes can be far more dangerous than big ones, due to a terrifying process called… » 1/27/15 11:00am 1/27/15 11:00am

What Would Really Happen If You Put A Human In A Microwave?

The Skin Effect isn't what it sounds like, but it can help us understand what happens to a human being when they're exposed to different microwave frequencies. It also explains why your food comes out cold on the inside. » 1/19/15 12:40pm 1/19/15 12:40pm

What Does It Mean That James Bond's In the Public Domain In Canada?

On January 1st, 2015, the works of Ian Fleming entered the public domain in a number of countries. That means that the character of James Bond is no longer copyrighted in those countries, just like Sherlock Holmes has been for a while. But it doesn't mean that it's suddenly open season on that character. » 1/08/15 1:45am 1/08/15 1:45am

The Real Story Behind the 1914 Christmas Truce in World War I

It was 100 years ago this very night that something miraculous happened along the Western Front. After months of bitter fighting, soldiers on both sides gathered in no-man's-land in a spontaneous show of peace and goodwill. Here's what happened on that historic day — and why it marked the end of an era. » 12/24/14 11:00am 12/24/14 11:00am

What Are All Those Quarks Doing in Your Body?

We're made of flesh and bone and fat, which are in turn made of protons and electrons, which are (mostly) made of quarks. Which, even though they are the most basic form of matter, are a minuscule percentage of your body's mass. Wait, what? Why do we have so much more mass than what we're made of? » 12/23/14 11:30am 12/23/14 11:30am

What Are These Strange, Beautiful Clouds Over Tunisia?

A gorgeous picture of a sunset painting brilliant colors over dramatic spirals in a wavy deck of clouds is making the rounds on social media this afternoon. The picture—purportedly taken in Tunisia—is so spectacular that it almost looks photoshopped. Here's an explanation for how these incredible clouds formed. » 12/18/14 1:00am 12/18/14 1:00am

Dragon Age: Inquisition's Ending, Explained

After dozens of hours of closing rifts, destroying red lyrium veins, and maybe even defeating some dragons, you finally beat Dragon Age Inquisition. Congrats! You may now be asking yourself: what the hell just happened? » 12/15/14 3:52pm 12/15/14 3:52pm