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“Psychscape 493 (Lassen, CA), 2017,” “Psychscape 06 (Gold Lake, CA), 2017,” and “Psychscape 75 (White Rock Canyon, AZ), 2018,” photographs by Terri Loewenthal © The artist

“Psychscape 493 (Lassen, CA), 2017,” “Psychscape 06 (Gold Lake, CA), 2017,” and “Psychscape 75 (White Rock Canyon, AZ), 2018,” photographs by Terri Loewenthal © The artist

Advisers to the Scottish government recommended canceling protections enjoyed by wandering sand dunes in Aberdeenshire that have been destroyed by Donald Trump. In England and Wales, where burial space is expected to run out in five years’ time, a public-health expert called for interring the dead along motorways. A court in Devonshire considered the benefits of re-beavering. Mount Stromboli erupted and killed a man, a 13,000-acre wildfire in Spain was sparked when decomposing chicken feces burst into flames, and German police used anti-riot water cannons to cool down Berlin’s trees. Scientists identified 3.5 million square miles of land across the globe where new trees might be planted and discovered an offshore aquifer extending from New Jersey to Cape Cod that contains at least 670 cubic miles of freshwater. The use of ancient indigenous Andean rainwater-management techniques could retain an additional 3.5 billion cubic feet of water every year for the city of Lima. A Polish mass grave associated with the Globular Amphora culture was found to contain the remains of a family who were murdered brutally but buried carefully. The earliest evidence of cannabis use, in the Pamir Mountains, also involved human sacrifice and harp music. Teens who consume their marijuana by vaping have a greater propensity for violent and property crimes. Scientists advised against consuming hypersexual zombie cicadas infected with psychoactive fungus.

Standard smart speakers can be updated to detect the agonal breathing of cardiac arrest and call emergency services. Truck driving is not as imminently threatened by automation as previously feared. A Department of Energy A.I. correctly anticipated, on the basis of old research, advances that thereafter took place in thermoelectric materials. Computer scientists developed Adaptive Deep Reuse for convolutional neural-­network training, reducing the training time by more than half. A.I. can predict future psychosis with 93 percent accuracy from conversational language that is vague and uncommonly focused on words having to do with sound and speech, and can identify depression in children asked to tell a short story by an unencouraging adult. The storytelling style of autistic girls may lead to underdiagnosis. A pediatric endocrinologist disputed the diagnosis that the Mona Lisa suffered from psychomotor retardation, a neurologist determined her smile to be false, and two Italian neuroscientists proposed that Leonardo da Vinci had A.D.H.D. Two thirds of atheists stop identifying as such after a personal encounter with God.

Native American pear trees face an existential threat from an escaped non-native species, and flower sharing was transmitting infections from honeybees to wild bumblebees. A comparative thanatological analysis of two hundred years of nonhuman primate responses to death ­noted that the conception of death is important to the evolution of hierarchies and suggested that some primates’ inability to grasp objects prevents them from carrying their dead. The death roll is more common than previously thought among crocodiles, who independently evolved to be vegetarian at least three times. A species of sea slug that has abandoned vegetarianism and now eats other slugs’ eggs was named for Jim Henson. Carp-kun, a goldfish in the Kochi zoo who is the last survivor of a cohort of 200 fry fed to the zoo’s birds and who later outlived a giant salamander who attacked him daily, was enjoying an old age free of predators. Domesticated dogs have evolved a special muscle that allows them to make puppy eyes.

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January 2024

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