Press "Enter" to skip to content

Top stories: When stars collide and monkeys sleep with deer


(Left to right): Wikimedia; Copyright David Ellifrit Center for Whale Research (; ESO/L. Calçada

Colliding stars will light up the night sky in 2022

A team of astronomers is making a bold prediction: In 2022, give or take a year, a pair of stars will merge and explode, becoming one of the brightest objects in the sky for a short period. It’s notoriously hard to predict when such stellar catastrophes will occur, but this binary pair is engaged in a well-documented dance of death that will inevitably come to a head in the next few years, they say.

Your choice of a life partner is no accident

Chances are you’re going to marry someone a lot like you. Similar intelligence, similar height, similar body weight. A new study of tens of thousands of married couples suggests that this isn’t an accident. We don’t marry educated people because we happen to hang around with educated people, for example—we actively seek them out. And these preferences are shaping our genomes.

Study suggests surprising reason killer whales go through menopause

Only three known species go through menopause: killer whales, short-finned pilot whales, and humans. Two years ago, scientists suggested whales do this to focus their attention on the survival of their families rather than on birthing more offspring. But now this same team reports there’s another—and darker—reason: Older females enter menopause because their eldest daughters begin having calves, leading to fights over resources. The findings might also apply to humans, the scientists say.

Why this monkey tried to have sex with a deer

Japanese macaques and sika deer live comfortably together on Japan’s Yakushima Island: The deer eat fruit the monkeys drop from the trees, and the monkeys groom and sometimes hitch a ride on the deer. But a couple years ago, one of the macaques took this relationship to a new level. Unable to get a mate of his own kind, this low-ranking snow monkey used the deer’s back for his pleasure.

This 20-cent paper pinwheel could transform medicine in the developing world

A whirligig is so simple, even a kindergartener can make one. But this ancient toy—a pinwheellike device whose circular motion is powered by two twisting strings—may soon transform medicine in the developing world, thanks to an inexpensive new version that can separate blood as quickly as some commercial centrifuges. If the “paperfuge,” as it is called, makes it past regulatory hurdles, engineers say, it could prove a portable and cheap tool for diagnosing anemia and infections such as HIV and malaria in places where resources are scarce.

Exclusive Q&A: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on Trump’s proposed vaccine commission

Environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., an outspoken vaccine critic, told ScienceInsider he was asked by President-elect Donald Trump to chair a “vaccine safety and scientific integrity” commission. (A Trump spokesperson, however, later said that “no decisions have been made at this time” about such a commission.) Kennedy espouses discredited links between vaccines and neurological disorders, including autism. He has also been harshly critical of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends the childhood vaccine schedule.

Source: Science Mag