Taking a vacation from your daily routine and a break from all the excitement (and horror) of the latest science happenings is certainly very healthy.
But a lot happens in science, even in only a few days, so we’ve put together the top 9 science highlights you may have missed over summer.
1. Space is yet to disappoint us with its fascinating and strange phenomena. Just last week, planetary scientists investigated a strange structure towering over Saturn’s bizarre hexagon cloud formation, and before that, mystery radio signals were detected coming from deep in space.
Back down on Earth, scientists were trying to make a thing spin crazy fast to learn more about quantum mechanics.
2. Health scientists did some mythbusting this summer, pointing out that some foods and vitamins aren’t all they’re made out to be. A large clinical study showed vitamin D supplements aren’t associated with reducing the risk of bone fractures, and a Harvard scientist caused some controversy by calling coconut oil “Pure Poison”.
Meanwhile, poverty is now preventing people from obtaining enough nutrients, resulting in the return of an 18th century disease to wealthy countries like the US and Australia.
3. In July we found ourselves waiting with bated breath for the opening of a mysterious black sarcophagus found in Alexandria, Egypt. At one point it seemed the whole internet (or at least all of Twitter) was speculating about what sort of curse would be triggered when we tried to see what lay within.
Of course, on opening the sarcophagus, archaeologists found exactly what you’d expect and shared some amazing (and gross) photos. Analysing its contents lead to a few more clues to the identity of of the sarcophagus’s inhabitant.
And aside from the disturbing people who wanted to taste the 2,000 year old mummy goo found inside the sarcophagus, there’s no other sign of an apocalyptic curse. Unless we count climate change, which is certainly looking very apocalyptic but was already happening (is there such thing as a pre-emptive curse?).
4. Speaking of climate change, it seems to have done some of its own digging into our past, with the extreme weather conditions it has enhanced. The frighteningly unprecedented fires the world’s been experiencing uncovered a WWII message in Ireland, written with stones.
These stone messages were used as a signal to let bomber planes know they were flying over a neutral territory.
Elsewhere in Europe, extreme drought conditions revealed dire warnings from 1616 carved into riverbed stone. They’re usually submerged in Czechia’s river, but the lack of water exposed their messages warning of hard times ahead, including: “If you see me, weep.”
They echo current dire warnings from our scientists about the hothouse Earth we’re on the path to unleashing, and the rising heat-related deaths to come, which politicians just continue to ignore.
5. Meanwhile, in a dry Australian desert lakebed, a massive penis geoglyph that could be seen all the way from space mysteriously appeared. Ok, so that might have been more of a ‘what the hell’ moment rather than a mystery, but it provided some amusement nonetheless.
6. Other discoveries over the last few months include: 12 new moons found orbiting Jupiter, a new type of brain cell in humans, and an entire shape new to science that had been hiding in plain sight in our skin this whole time.
7. An amazing link between microbes and clouds was uncovered – proving how tightly interconnected everything on our living planet is.
8. Scientists also recorded evolution in action on two levels:
Natural selection happening in front of our eyes when a single hurricane season changed the anatomy of a lizard’s feet in the Caribbean.
And cholera bacteria were caught in the act of stealing bits of DNA from their dead buddies. The footage looks incredible and shows how these pesky organisms are so good at developing antibiotic resistance so quickly.
Why wait to adapt through generational change, when you can just steal mutations from your mates?
9. And finally, for those preparing or helping others prepare to go back to school, here’s some advice about the presence of screened devices in the classroom: a new study shows that even when they’re not being used, these devices can be a distraction.