We get it. There’s so much cool science happening every week, and so little time to read all about it.
So, to make it easier for you to catch up with it all, we’ve rounded up some of this week’s most popular ScienceAlert stories in a fun quiz. The answers are at the bottom of the page. Good luck!
We all know that the overuse of antibiotics is driving resistance in the very bacteria we’re trying to kill. But there’s increasing awareness that non-antibiotic pharmaceuticals could also be contributing to the rise of the superbug.
Which common antidepressant was linked to drug resistance in bacteria this week?
Research has revealed that using land in the Sahara for renewable energy infrastructure – solar panels and wind turbines – would generate rainfall and promote green growth in the world’s largest hot desert.
On top of that, this hypothetical project could deliver 82 terawatts of electrical power each year. Given that in 2017, the global energy demand was just 18 terawatts, this would be more than enough for the entire planet.
What additional effect would such a plan have?
A. It would promote biodiversity and food production.
B. It would help stop the expansion of the desert.
C. It would reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.
D. All of the above.
If you love weird deep-sea creatures, this week definitely had some fun news for you.
A team of marine biologists from Newcastle University in the UK announced the discovery of three new species of snailfish, a ghostly creature with translucent skin, found living more than 21,000 feet (6,400 metres) beneath the ocean waves.
What would happen if these creatures were suddenly brought to the surface?
A. Their skin would get thicker and lose its translucent quality.
B. They would melt.
C. They would grow much larger than where they live now.
D. They would get sunburnt.
Ah, good old solar activity. Even though we’re heading into a Solar minimum, a huge hole opened up in the Sun’s corona, bringing a medium-strength geomagnetic storm this week – along with beautiful auroras across the usual latitudes.
But what exactly is a hole in the Sun’s corona?
A. A bright, shiny region of plasma.
B. A hotter, more dense region of plasma.
C. A region where the plasma is completely interrupted.
D. A cooler, less dense region of plasma.
While Hurricane Florence was occupying much of attention in the United States, Super Typhoon Mangkhut threatening the Philippines took the crown of the most intense tropical cyclone in the world, with winds of 170 mph (273 km/h).
We’re at the peak of the annual hurricane season in the Atlantic, but things have definitely been looking more intense than usual – forecasts show we could even get five simultaneous cyclones.
When was the last time the Atlantic had five simultaneous cyclones?
A. In August 2016.
B. In September 1971.
C. In September 2002.
D. In August 1962.
Some 73,000 years ago, a person scrawled a handful of intersecting red lines on the side of a flake of stone, much similar to the # symbol we would recognise today.
Now archaeologists have found this artefact in Blombos Cave in South Africa, and the discovery represents the oldest drawing we have on record so far.
What was the drawing made with?
A. A crayon made out of cow fat and beetle wing pigment.
B. A flint stylus dipped in ox blood.
C. A crayon made out of red ochre.
D. A finger dipped in red pigment.
Early in 2017, scientists forecast the collision of two stars in the constellation Cygnus – this would result in a rare and wonderful phenomenon visible to the naked eye, the production of a luminous red nova.
Unfortunately, that prediction has been cancelled, after a second team of researchers went through the data.
Why did the original team get the prediction wrong?
A. There was a typo in the data.
B. One of their telescopes turned out to have a blurry lens.
C. Their study was sabotaged by an angry post-doc.
D. Because aliens.
1. A. Fluoxetine
Fluoxetine – a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), and the key ingredient in antidepressants such as Prozac and Sarafem, could be causing antibiotic resistance in bacteria by inducing genetic mutation. Read the whole story here.
2. D. All of the above.
Producing so much renewable power would benefit other large-scale environmental projects, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from using fossil fuels, and the greenery effect would indeed help curb the current expansion of the Sahara. Read the whole story here.
3. B. They would melt.
Although the scientists did manage to carefully bring up a specimen that swam into one of their traps, the snailfish live at such extreme depths that the intense water pressure and cold helps them support their gelatinous bodies. Read the whole story here.
4. D. A cooler, less dense region of plasma.
This cooler region of plasma in the Sun’s atmosphere has more open magnetic fields, which allow solar winds to escape more easily, blowing electromagnetic radiation into space at high speeds. Read the whole story here.
5. B. In September 1971.
That’s right, we haven’t had this many explosive tropical storms in the Atlantic for 47 years. While a surge of storm activity is not unusual for September, it does look like we have slightly more tropical activity than normal. Read the whole story here.
6. C. A crayon made out of red ochre.
After a series of experiments, the team determined the marks were left by a ‘crayon’ of red ochre shaved to a point just 1 to 3 millimetres wide. It also looks like the drawing was probably part of a larger pattern. Read the whole story here.
7. A. There was a typo in the data.
Yep. One of the papers the team used had a typo, which got carried over into their calculations. The original team has agreed with the new findings, and generally dealt with the whole thing very gracefully. Read the whole story here.