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Interesting Stuff

How Ancient Peruvians Partied on Eclipse Day

A total solar eclipse over Australia in 2012. (Credit: NASA) Solar-eclipse fever is about to heat up as millions of Americans celebrate the astronomical spectacle happening Aug. 21. Businesses and universities along its shadowy bandwidth from Lincoln Beach, Ore., to Charleston, S.C., are organizing days-long events. There will be festivals …

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Tomato Plants Can Turn Caterpillars Into Cannibals

A spurge hawk-moth caterpillar. (Credit: Chekaramit/Shutterstock) It’s a twist of fate that wouldn’t feel out of place in a horror movie: A platoon of caterpillars, young and hungry, descend on a defenseless tomato plant to feast, but as they begin to eat something goes terribly wrong. The leaves no longer satisfy, and they …

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Political Neuroscience: "Growth Mindsets" and Disability

On Twitter, I learned that the British government is citing neuroscience studies as part of a new welfare initiative. The “Health and Work Conversation” (HWC) is a newly-introduced procedure for welfare claimants receiving support because sickness or disability impairs their ability to work. The one hour “conversation” is mandatory in …

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A Safer Way to Milk a Scorpion

(Credit: Shutterstock) As a kid, Mouad Mkamel played with pet snakes, vipers and scorpions. As a Ph.D. student at University King Hassan II of Casablanca, Mkamel is now breeding scorpions and milking their venom using a robot he designed. At $7,000 to $8,000 per gram, scorpion venom is one of …

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Fun Fact: Praying Mantises Eat Bird Brains

A praying mantis making a meal of a ruby-throated hummingbird. (Credit: “What’s That Bug?”/Randy Anderson) Poor hummingbirds. The fragile, fleet-winged birds often don’t make it past their first year of life as they are tasty snacks for cats, large-mouth bass, snakes, lizards…you get the idea. Now, perhaps surprisingly, we can …

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The "Electrosensitive" Brain

A strange new paper reports “abnormal” brain activity in 10 patients with electrohypersensitivity (EHS) – a controversial condition allegedly triggered by electromagnetic fields from devices such as phones and power-lines. But the methods used in this study were very odd. According to the authors, Gunnar Heuser and Sylvia A. Heuser, …

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