Steep Mountain Slopes Have Surprisingly Long Lifetimes

Source: Geophysical Research Letters Gravity and rock physics say slopes steeper than about 30 ° —known as the critical threshold angle, or the angle of repose — shouldn’t really exist, yet they do. These steep slopes and near-vertical cliffs can be seen in the Himalayas and in Yosemite National Park, for example. For some geologists, … Read more

Surprisingly, Smokers Have a Lower Risk of Developing Prostrate Cancer – But This Has a Hidden Cost

Researchers have discovered that smokers have a reduced chance of acquiring prostate cancer but an increased risk of dying from the disease. Smoking worsens the prognosis for men with prostate cancer According to a large population study led by Lund University in Sweden, smokers had a decreased chance of acquiring prostate cancer but a greater … Read more

The Evolution of a Head Has Been Traced Back Surprisingly Far Back Our Ancestral Line

What’s in a head? According to new research, a little bit of our ancestors’ tails. In the early days of complex, multicellular life on Earth, animals started out without any spines or brains. They only had a network of neurons spread throughout their body. Over the course of millions of years, however, that system somehow … Read more

Venus-like worlds are surprisingly common in ‘habitable’ zones

The hellish planet Venus is known for its incredibly thick atmosphere, crushingly high air pressure and surface temperatures that are hot enough to melt lead. In other words, it has some of the most inhospitable surface conditions in the entire solar system. But going by the standard definition of “habitable zone,” Venus sits inside this … Read more

Saturn’s moon Titan is an alien world, but surprisingly familiar

Credit: NASA / JPL / University of Arizona. Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is a fascinating and mysterious world, a world literally shrouded in mystery due to thick clouds that cameras imaging in the visible spectrum cannot penetrate. This was made apparent when NASA’s Pioneer 11 became the first spacecraft to fly past Titan in 1979, … Read more

Pluto’s orbit is surprisingly unstable, shows study

Comparison between the eight largest TNOs with Earth (all to scale). Credit: NASA / Lexicon. In 1930, astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discovered the fabled “Ninth Planet” (or “Planet X”) while working at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. The existence of this body had been predicted previously based on perturbations in the orbit of Uranus and … Read more

Structures Considered Key to Gene Expression Are Surprisingly Dynamic and Short-Lived

MIT researchers have discovered that chromatin spends most of its time in a partially looped state (middle). Fully formed loops (right) occur only three to six percent of the time, they found. Credit: Courtesy of the researchers, edited by MIT News MIT research finds genome loops don’t last long in cells; theories of how loops … Read more

MIT Neuroscientists Discover That Computers Identify Faces in a Surprisingly Human-Like Fashion

When artificial intelligence is tasked with visually identifying objects and faces, it assigns specific components of its network to face recognition – just like the human brain. The human brain seems to care a lot about faces. It’s dedicated a specific area to identifying them, and the neurons there are so good at their job … Read more

The Most Distant Exoplanet Ever Found by Kepler Is… Surprisingly Familiar

An exoplanet a whopping 17,000 light-years from Earth has been found hiding in data collected by the now-retired Kepler Space Telescope. It’s the most distant world ever picked up by the planet-hunting observatory, twice the distance of its previous record. Fascinatingly, the exoplanet is almost an exact twin of Jupiter – of similar mass, and … Read more

Bridging the Chasm Between Quantum Physics and the Theory of Gravity – “We Have Found a Surprisingly Simple Solution”

Black holes and wormholes in the universe are complex many body systems and require a deeper understanding of space, time, gravity and quantum physics. Quantum information theory: Quantum complexity grows linearly for an exponentially long time. Physicists know about the huge chasm between quantum physics and the theory of gravity. However, in recent decades, theoretical … Read more