The formation of pre–Silk Road Eurasian empires was driven partly by the spread of northern Chinese broomcorn millet; nanodiamonds and meltglass at Abu Hureyra point to a cosmic impact at the onset of the Younger Dryas; the collapse of Harappan society coincided with the loss of the Ghaggar River’s perenniality and the onset of the Meghalayan Stage; the breakdown of Easter Island society and the cessation of megalithic statue-building postdated European contact; and epigraphic evidence suggested a descent into total war during the Terminal Classic era of Mayan civilization.
Astronomers recorded, in the Ophiuchus galaxy cluster, the largest known post–Big Bang explosion, which lasted several hundred million years and created a void of fifteen galactic widths in the plasma around the cluster’s central black hole. “People were skeptical because of the size of the outburst,” said one of the scientists. “We don’t know why it’s so big.”
Mount Vesuvius turned a Herculaneum man’s brain to glass, according to archaeologists, who also revived the voice of a priest from the reign of Ramesses XI and determined that a mummy in the Ulster Museum had been stabbed in the back.
Veterinarians developed an ultrasound schedule for pregnant dolphins, and marine biologists discovered four new species of walking sharks and found that gray seals clap at each other to communicate underwater.
Automation of the labor force may lead humans to overcome their differences, and researchers seeking to use personal voice-assistance to detect dementia among their users were awarded a $12 million grant.
A review of 250,000 pieces of erotica published between 2000 and 2016 found no significant increase in “transgressive” content, Saudi Arabians do not linger on porn websites, and neuroscientists reported that forceful, prosaic self-squeezing of the penile shaft more closely evokes the neurological signature of erotic touch than does gentle, prosaic self-squeezing of the glans.
Red-haired or freckled women in high-UV latitudes have lower mortality risks, light-skinned sex workers in Mexico command higher rates, Brazilian men who self-identify as black are slightly happier with their penis size than those who self-identify as white, and a survey of forty countries found Colombian women to be more than five times as happy with their breast size as Japanese women.
Patients from the McLean Hospital Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Institute who each had one of their real hands and a rubber hand stroked synchronously by Harvard doctors who then dabbed fake feces on the rubber hand before returning to stroking both hands displayed nearly twice as much facial disgust as patients whose real and rubber hands were stroked asynchronously.
The sounds of underwater pile-driving elicit signs of both alarm and habituation in longfin squid, and the medium-term stress level of fish can be determined by plucking their scales and testing for cortisol.
Runologists determined that the nine riddles of the Rök stone bespeak Vikings’ fear of another Fimbulwinter, and a star-shaped magnetic anomaly resulting from an ancient lightning strike was discovered at the Calanais Standing Stones’ Airigh na Beinne Bige.
Jimi Hendrix was cleared of responsibility for the proliferation of London’s non-native parakeet population, whereas humans were found solely responsible for the extinction of the United States’ only native parrot.
The Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries intercepted a trained beluga whale suspected of working for the Russian military. After the whale retrieved an iPhone that fell from a woman’s pocket into the sea, officials proposed sending it to a sanctuary in Iceland.
An Australian study of 400 years of coral records found that El Niños have been getting stronger, a study of 3,000 years of shell deposits at the bottom of Lake Nakaumi revealed a history of monsoon failures, and archaeologists identified the species of shellfish foraged by ancient children on St. Thomas.
Among a million species now threatened with extinction, marine species are disappearing at twice the rate of terrestrial species, and British hedgehogs are in decline, possibly owing to a loss of hedges.
A physically stressed juvenile macaque who died 4,500 years ago was unearthed in an Iranian grave of a type usually used for human infants; earrings adorn guinea pigs sacrificed during the construction of Incan buildings; and gold, turquoise, and a baby llama found in Lake Titicaca were interpreted to be ritual emblems expressing the Tiwanaku Empire’s desire to consolidate influence in the late tenth century.
An international team of scientists proposed that China could switch to carbon-negative electricity production through the use of coal; the United Kingdom, where 70 percent of asthma inhalers produce high levels of CO2 emissions, could achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 at a cost of 1 to 2 percent of its GDP; and India could make significant progress toward its air-quality targets if households stopped burning dung.
Bacteria may produce additional CO2 as a result of ocean warming, which may itself contribute to blindness among octopuses, and a warming atmosphere may cause widespread damage to both insect and mammal sperm.
The melt rate of old permafrost can be measured by radiocarbon dating the waters of Arctic rivers, and permafrost thaw was found to be not only releasing CO2 and methane but also damaging infrastructure and altering landscapes.