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Ants are pretty organised little creatures. Highly social insects, they know how to forage, build complicated nests, steal your pantry snacks, and generally look after the queens and the colony, all by working together. Leaf-cutter ants turn that cooperation up several notches. Leaf-cutter ant colonies like Acromyrmex echinatior can contain millions of ants, split into
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Just before going into a hallucinogenic trance, Indigenous Californians who had gathered in a cave likely looked up toward the rocky ceiling, where a pinwheel and big-eyed moth were painted in red. This mysterious “pinwheel,” is likely a depiction of the delicate, white flower of Datura wrightii, a powerful hallucinogen that the Chumash people took not
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The origins of life, a few billion years ago, were humble. Single-celled organisms squirming in the ooze, over millions and billions of years developing into multi-celled plants and, eventually, animals. But when and how these evolutionary spurts occurred has been difficult to puzzle out. Organic material doesn’t necessarily preserve well, and when it does, we
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Every now and then, Earth reminds us it’s capable of releasing some furious energy.  Case in point: scientists have just detected a new extreme in hotspots of lightning activity called ‘superbolts’: intense lightning strikes that shine up to 1,000 times brighter than typical lightning strikes.  The observations come from researchers at the US Los Alamos
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In July of 2015, NASA’s New Horizons probe made history when it became the first mission ever to conduct a close flyby of Pluto. This was followed by the spacecraft making the first-ever encounter with a Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) – known as Arrokoth (AKA 2014 MU69) – on 31 December 2018. In addition, its unique position in the outer Solar System has
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One of the world’s most iconic astronomical observatories has fallen apart beyond repair. Now it threatens to collapse entirely. Following two unexpected cable breaks, engineers have determined that the Arecibo Observatory’s 1,000-foot (305-metre) radio telescope is so structurally unsound that any workers who try to fix it would risk their lives. So the National Science Foundation,
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If you’ve ever studied any chemistry or biology, there’s a very good chance you’ve come across the common pictorial representation of what a chromosome is supposed to look like. As millions of high-schoolers and undergraduates will attest, it’s a tall, narrow X-shape - visualising what two joined chromatids look like after DNA replication takes place, but before
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Wow. A low-flying space rock set a record last Friday (appropriately, the 13th), when 2020 VT4 passed just under 400 kilometers (250 miles) over the Southern Pacific. The asteroid was spotted by the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) survey at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii in the early morning hours of Saturday, November 14, just
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Volcanoes rank among the most destructive and awe-inspiring phenomena on the planet. But these fiery fissures do much more than just destroy. They also create. In a new study, researchers in Russia report the discovery of one such creation – an unusual mineral never before documented by scientists: an alluring, vibrantly blue-and-green crystallised substance the