biology
New Species of ‘Exploding Ant’ Discovered in Borneo

When confronted by an enemy, Southeast Asian “exploding ants” do exactly what their name implies: they explode. Ignored for decades, researchers have completed a detailed survey of these enigmatic ants, discovering over a dozen species that fit into this group, including one that’s completely new to science. Read More >>

science
Diamonds Found Packed Inside Rare Meteorite Are Evidence of a Destroyed Planet

Back in 2008, an 80-tonne meteor exploded over the Nubian Desert of Sudan, showering the region with hundreds of tiny rocks. New research suggests the diamonds packed inside these meteorites could have only formed within a planetary body the size of Mercury or Mars—a planet that no longer exists. Read More >>

robots
Watch Two Robots Nimbly—and Very Calmly–Assemble an Ikea Chair

Having to assemble furniture from Ikea is an endless exercise in frustration, so how cool would it be to have robots that could do the job? Researchers from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have now taken us a significant step closer to achieving that dream. Read More >>

science
Computer Model Offers New Insights Into Dreaded Supervolcano

With its rushing rivers, sprawling canyons, and lush forests, America's Yellowstone National Park is an absolute treasure, but buried deep beneath its picturesque surface lies a hell that’s just waiting to be unleashed. Using computer models, researchers have simulated the conditions beneath North America’s largest supervolcano—discovering a zone that may control the movement of magma flowing out from the Earth’s mantle. Read More >>

science
Rare Mutation Among Bajau People Lets Them Stay Underwater Longer

The Bajau people of Malaysia and the Philippines are renowned for their free-diving abilities, often working eight-hour shifts in search of fish and other sea critters. Underwater sessions can last upwards of two minutes, with accumulated daily totals of breath-holding often reaching five hours. New research suggests these impressive feats aren’t the result of training, but rather, an example of natural selection at work—which, in this case, has endowed Bajau individuals with abnormally large spleens. Read More >>

history
Medieval Italian Man Replaced His Amputated Hand With a Knife

Italian anthropologists have documented a remarkable case in which a Medieval-era Italian male not only managed to survive the amputation of his right hand, he also used a bladed weapon as a prosthetic limb. Read More >>

science
How a Virus Spreads Through an Aeroplane Cabin

Travelling by plane greatly increases our chances of getting sick, or so many of us are wont to believe. To be fair, it’s not uncommon to come down with a nasty illness after we return from a vacation or business trip. But is flying the culprit? The latest research suggests the answer is no—but much of it depends on where we sit. Read More >>

science
Mutated Plastic-Munching Enzyme Accidentally Created During Lab Experiment

A couple of years ago, scientists discovered an enzyme in a waste recycling centre in Japan that digests plastic. During a recent experiment to understand how this enzyme works, scientists accidentally created a mutated version that breaks down plastic even better than the one found in nature. The discovery could go a long way in reducing plastic waste, particularly from water bottles. Read More >>

artificial intelligence
Government Proposes Five Basic Principles to Keep Humans Safe From AI

A new report by the Lords Select Committee claims that Britain is in a strong position to be a world leader in the development of artificial intelligence. But to get there—and to keep AI safe and ethical—tech firms should follow the Committee’s newly proposed “AI Code.” Read More >>

science
This Bizarre Fish Hides a Nasty Switchblade on Its Cheek

The scientists who discovered the strange feature are calling it a “lachrymal sabre,” but for the predators who dare to mess with this type of stonefish, the unique switchblade just means trouble. Read More >>

robots
Experts Sign Open Letter Slamming Europe’s Proposal to Recognise Robots as Legal Persons

Over 150 experts in AI, robotics, commerce, law, and ethics from 14 countries have signed an open letter denouncing the European Parliament’s proposal to grant personhood status to intelligent machines. The EU says the measure will make it easier to figure out who’s liable when robots screw up or go rogue, but critics say it’s too early to consider robots as persons—and that the law will let manufacturers off the liability hook. Read More >>

science
Sweet Potato DNA Challenges Theory That Polynesians Beat Columbus to America

Christopher Columbus reached the New World in 1492, but some experts say Polynesian explorers beat him to it. There’s little evidence to support this fringe theory, but scientists have pointed to the presence of sweet potatoes, a plant thought to be native to the Americas, in the South Pacific as potential proof. A genetic analysis of the popular tuberous root and its relatives has now effectively quashed this hypothesis. Read More >>

science
Canadian Scientists Discover Freakishly Salty Lakes Hidden Under Giant Glacier

Researchers working in the Canadian high north have discovered two super-salty lakes buried deep beneath the Arctic ice. Untouched for thousands of years, the subglacial lakes may provide a tantalising glimpse into the kinds of alien life that might exist on Europa and Enceladus, two ice-covered moons in the far reaches of our Solar System. Read More >>

astronomy
Pluto’s Moon Charon Now Has a Crater Called Dorothy, Among Other Newly Named Features

Up until July 2015, Pluto’s largest moon, Charon, was just a pixel in terms of what we knew about it. That all changed when NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft zipped through the system, revealing craters, deep crevices, valleys, and mountains on the distant moon—surface features that now have formal names. Read More >>

history
Medieval Cheater’s Dice With Two Fours and Two Fives Found in Norway

Six-sided dice date back nearly 5,000 years to ancient Persia, so finding 600-year-old dice in Norway isn’t anything special. But this recently discovered dice—with its conspicuously absent one-side and two-side—is unique, pointing to some Medieval-era shenanigans. Read More >>