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Science Headlines Most People Probably Missed
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Every 8 Years, Swarms of Millipedes Stop Trains in Japan. Scientists Finally Know Why (Science Alert)

Science headlines like this might freak you out a bit but thankfully, scientists have found an answer to major questions they had. The story goes that every eight years during the fall, a massive amount of millipedes swarm train-lines in the mountains of Japan. Scientists just did not know why this happened. Yet after spending 50 years researching the odd issue, we now have an answer to the question.

Science Headlines Most People Probably Missed
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They found that these specific millipedes live on a rare eight-year lifecycle. Meaning all of the millipedes that come to these train tracks are different. It’s almost like they are taking a religious pilgrimage to where their parents met. Before this, cicadas were the only known periodical animals with this type of lifespan. The team wrote in their groundbreaking paper that the millipede needs seven years from egg to adult, with one more year for maturation. They tested the egg to adult theory in two different locations known for millipedes. Both coming back with exact matches.

Science Headlines Most People Probably Missed
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Columbia Engineers First To Observe Avalanches In Nanoparticles (Eurekalert)

We love seeing science headlines that discuss revolutionary changes or inventions. That is exactly the case here as Columbia Engineering reported that they have developed the first nanomaterial that demonstrates “photon avalanching.” It is claimed that his process is unrivaled in its combination of extreme nonlinear optical behavior and efficiency. This is a huge development, as it could allow for things like real-time super-resolution optical microscopy.

Science Headlines Most People Probably Missed
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It could also lead to precise temperature and environmental sensing, infrared light detection, optical analog-to-digital conversation, and even something as unique as quantum sensing! The team studied these nanoparticles at the single-nanoparticle level, which seems to be what truly allowed them to prove the interesting avalanching behavior. This is an incredible discovery. Just think, with this, we could sense changes in our chemical surroundings and eliminate threats before they become one. That could result in potentially ending major viral diseases.

Science Headlines Most People Probably Missed
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Edible Insects: The Science Of Novel Food Evaluations (European Food & Safety Authority)

While science headlines like this might gross you out, it’s actually confirmed that we eat bugs without realizing it all the time. In fact, if you’ve eaten any chocolate food, you’ve likely eaten some type of bug. Same for if you have eaten anything that comes from the ground, like plants. Just when you thought fruits and vegetables were the “safe” foods, right? Of course, several food and safety administrations tend to dive into this topic and update things annually.

Science Headlines Most People Probably Missed
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The European Food and Safety Authority did just that recently. They decided to tell us the science that goes into how they decide which insects are edible. Either those that fall into what we consume or those we eat on purpose. The hardest part for the team comes down to food allergies. It is not easy to know what insects might cause allergic reactions when consumed nor the number of those who have specific insect allergies.

Science Headlines Most People Probably Missed
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COVID-19 Measures Also Suppress Flu—For Now (Science Magazine)

A lot of people might be trying to use the claim that “COVID is a hoax.” They might even be referencing how no one is talking about the flu or influenza much at all right now. Yet there is a lot of things wrong with that. First, many people are wearing masks when they go into public spaces. These same COVID precautions help prevent the flu as well since both tend to spread the exact same ways. Of course, it should be noted that the flu tends to spike in the late winter months.

Science Headlines Most People Probably Missed
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This is why experts are not ready to state that this was a mild flu season at all just yet. The World Health Organization says the flu activity in the Northern Hemisphere is at “interseasonal levels.” This means it’s actually just as low as it would be during summer periods. In the United States, flu cases are currently at 1.6% which is well below the average 2.6% that is used to define it as a season epidemic. From September 2020 to early January 2021, 925 positive samples have been collected. That is far lower than the 63,975 collected during the same periods from 2019 to 2020.

Science Headlines Most People Probably Missed
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Scientists Detect Ancient Cosmic “Background Noise” Hidden In Old Arecibo Observatory Data (Inverse)

When we were looking for great science headlines to discuss, we could not avoid this one. Astronomers spent 13 years observing signals from rotating stars in the hopes of catching ripples in spacetime. This is often referred to as gravitational waves, and they finally found possible hints of the first low-frequency version of these waves ever detected! It was discovered by a team of researchers from the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves or NANOGrav.

Science Headlines Most People Probably Missed
[Image via Aurore Simonnet/Sonoma State/Caltech/MIT/LIGO]
They did not just manage to tell us about it. Rather, they proved their finding with cosmic background noise. Back in September of 2015, scientists first detected a signal from gravitational waves. The signal came from a ripple between two black holes that collided 1.3 billion years ago. That only made NANOGrav more devoted to their project. Unlike high-frequency waves, the low-frequency versions come with persistent background noise, which they recorded.

Science Headlines Most People Probably Missed
[Image via Monique Smith & Boris Heifets]

Mice May ‘Catch’ Each Other’s Pain — And Pain Relief (Science News)

While science headlines about mice might not seem that appealing, this is actually a very compelling report. Mice seem to actually understand and feel each other’s pain. Research has been able to prove that when some mice are injured, other healthy mice living alongside them might mirror the injured mouse and behave as if they too have pain. Yet recently, research has been able to prove that mice can also mirror pain relief too.

Science Headlines Most People Probably Missed
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Stanford University Neuroscientist, Monique Smith, and her team have spent years trying to prove that animals can pick up and share each other’s emotions. In testing mice, they found that one mouse that was given morphine-induced pain relief was able to cause other mice to also have reduced pain. During one study, both mice were given an irritating injection but only one was given morphine. After mingling, both mice acted as if they both were given morphine. Which is absolutely incredible!