Another week, another round of terrific stories – there’s so much in the world to perpetually keep us amazed. But if you haven’t caught up with this weeks’ news, we have a simple solution.
Not only can you catch up with the most exciting ScienceAlert stories of the week, you can also have a crack at testing your knowledge (or just making educated guesses). Answers are at the bottom of the page. Good luck!
Physicists used the famous double slit experiment to test the nature of antimatter. They chose a positron as their subject, which is a subatomic particle like an electron but with a positive charge.
After firing a positron towards two slits in a barrier, they saw the same results as when this experiment was carried out with an electron: a interrupted pattern of “shine” passing through to the other side.
What did the antimatter particle do?
A. It bounced through one slit at a time, behaving like a ball.
B. It simultaneously flowed through both slits, behaving like light.
C. The positron was annihilated when it collided into an electron before passing through the slits leaving only light particles.
D. The positron turned into an electron.
The controversial academic Jordan Peterson from the University of Toronto in Canada claims “I eat beef and salt and water. That’s it.”
He and other advocates of this ‘pure carnivore diet’ avoid carbs, vegetables and anything else that wasn’t once a living, breathing entity, claiming #meatheals.
What can the 100% meat eaters expect to happen?
A. They will live a long and healthy life by strictly adhering to this diet.
B. They’ll probably be okay apart from getting scurvy, so maybe some vitamin C supplements will help.
C. It is a horrible idea for many health reasons, so please don’t even consider it.
D. You should really pick C.
In the UK town of Ipswich, an eerie nursery rhyme disturbed a poor woman’s sleep for months.
“I heard it at all times of the night – 1am, 2am, 4am – it was sporadic, sometimes it would play once, other times it was over and over,” she recalled. “Last week it played for hours, it was just horrible.”
What turned out to be the cause?
A. The women had an unusual medical condition causing her to hear the song.
B. Spiders were triggering the rhyme to play.
C. It was a ghost haunting nearby factories.
D. A neighbour had rigged up sensors so that when their child woke, the song would play.
Over the 4.5 billion years of our planet’s existence, its continents have continued to shift, forming new places along the way. This week, researchers from Plymouth University presented results showing that the modern-day British mainland was formed from three ancient land masses, not two.
The discovery has completely changed the location of the geological boundary between the islands and continental Europe. Where is it?
A. Under the English channel, between England and France.
B. In Devon and Cornwall, UK.
C. In northwestern Normandy, France.
D. On the island of St. Anne.
For more than 70 years, palaeontologists had been butting heads over the true nature of Dickinsonia – a bizarre, flat thing in our planet’s fossil record, dating back to 558 million years ago.
Now a team led by scientists at the Australian National University has found the smoking gun evidence proving that the strange creature was indeed a macroscopic animal, rather than some strange lichen or giant amoeba.
What was the final piece of the puzzle?
A. A unique Dickinsonia specimen with feet.
B. Traces of chlorophyll in several fossils.
C. Traces of ergosteroids in a rock where a Dickinsonia fossil was found.
D. Fat molecules preserved in one specimen.
As it turns out, we share genetic similarities with the majestic cephalopods when it comes to transporting serotonin in our brains.
In a bid to investigate the evolutionary basis of serotonin’s involvement in social behaviour, researchers at Johns Hopkins University enlisted a team of lab-raised octopuses and gave them some MDMA, also known as ecstasy.
What happened when the octopuses received the drug?
A. They started waving their tentacles in a rhythmic fashion.
B. They got incredibly sleepy.
C. They were able to quickly solve escape puzzles.
D. They got all touchy-feely with other octopuses.
1. B. Simultaneously flowed through both slits, behaving like light.
Like an electron, a positron washes through both slots, splits apart, and reforms to interfere with itself, when nobody is looking at it. This behavior is detected by the wavy pattern of shine it leaves on the other side, just like a wave of light. Read the whole story here.
2. C. This is a horrible idea for many reasons, please don’t even consider it.
Cardiologists warn that eating too much meat increases the risk of heart and artery diseases. Processed meats have been linked to psychiatric diseases, and avoiding fruits and vegetables means missing out on important nutrients that our bodies need to function properly, like fibre and vitamin C. Read the whole story here.
3. B. Spiders were triggering it.
The woman was indeed hearing the creepy song. The council tracked it down to a nearby industrial area, where it was being broadcasted through a loudspeaker as an alarm to deter intruders. And yep, that weird alarm was being triggered by spiders. Read the whole story (and hear the creepy song) here.
4. B. In Devon and Cornwall, UK.
According to the new findings, the British mainland was formed as Laurentia, Avalonia, and Armorica got smooshed together. The invisible geological line between Avalonia and Armorica cuts across the English counties of Devon and Cornwall. Read the whole story here.
5. D. Fat molecules preserved in one specimen.
The researchers found cholesteroids, a type of lipid compound essential for animal cell membranes. “The fossil fat molecules that we’ve found prove that animals were large and abundant 558 million years ago, millions of years earlier than previously thought,” said paleobiogeochemist Jochen Brock from ANU. Read the whole story here.
6. D. They got all touchy-feely with other octopuses.
The species used in the experiment, Octopus bimaculoides, are known to be fairly solitary creatures. But it turned out that with a little bit of neurochemical help, the animals got all cuddly and wanted to interact and make physical contact with other octopuses much more than they usually would. Read the whole story here.