2. Even symbolic reminders of emptiness are sufficient to inspire us to conserve our resources and curb our generosity.



  5. This week’s podcast explores The Fly Room and the foundation of modern genetics.

    Read more on this story and see photos of The Fly Room here.

    Subscribe and listen to all of The Week’s mini-podcasts on SoundCloud hereand on iTunes here.


  6. There are some obvious flaws to the study. For one, it’s based on the assumption that the subset of men who buy condoms online is representative of the state as a whole. Also, men could be ordering condoms in the wrong size, either mistakenly or purposefully — if you’ve ever spent some time in the company of middle school boys, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

  7. Bad news: you’re drinking too much wine.  Good news: it’s not your fault!

    The science of drinking too much wine


  8. In what is being called a “fundamental leap forward in our understanding of how brains work,” Japanese researchers have successfully caught on film a thought being formed in the brain. And while the brain in this study belongs to a zebrafish, not a human, the footage is captivating, and sheds light on how researchers could use a similar technique to see how our brains work. 

    To observe the zebrafish brain’s neurons in real time, researchers used a fluorescent probe that makes neurons light up when they’re active. What was the zebrafish thinking about? Something we humans obsess about all the time: Food. Researchers showed the fish a squirming piece of prey, and watched as the fish’s brain perceived it and considered consuming it. “In other words, you’re seeing what the fish thinks when it sees its lunch,” explains Jamie Condliffe at Gizmodo. In the video, parts of the fish’s brain light up like lightning in a storm before the light ripples through the neurons. It is, for lack of a better phrase, so cool. 


  9. A committee from the National Institutes of Health recently recommended that scientists retire a majority of the chimpanzees currently being used for federally-funded medical research in the United States. It’s worth taking a look back at some of the things we’ve learned by studying chimps, monkeys, and other non-human primates over the years. The methodology of some research is unsettling — but the conclusions do lead to a better understanding of who we are.

    • Stress early in life can lead to drinking later in life
      This is, perhaps, not a huge surprise, but at least now you know you can blame your childhood for your drinking habits. Researchers compared the alcohol consumption of two different groups ofrhesus monkeys, one raised without adult contact and comfort, and another raised with their mothers. When the monkeys were roughly 4 years old, they were given access to alcohol, and the monkeys raised away from their mothers drank more alcohol more often than the mother-reared monkeys. Of course, even those of us with the most stable childhoods can be driven to drink. When the mother-reared monkeys were placed in stressful situations, they increased their alcohol consumption, too.

    • We’re not the only primates capable of selfless acts
      Can non-human primates experience empathy? Can they understand and share in another’s feelings? Research suggests it’s very possible. In one 1964 study, a group of six rhesus monkeys were taught to pull a chain to receive a helping of food. At one point, a seventh monkey was introduced to the group, and each time the first six pulled the lever for food, the new guy would get a painful electric shock. In response, the monkeys did one of two things: Some pulled a separate chain that administered less food, but didn’t shock their companion. Others stopped eating entirely. One monkey went 12 days without eating to ensure it did not shock the others.



  10. Lake Vida, a salty lake buried under a 60-foot-thick sheet of ice in Antarctica, has renewed scientists’ hopes of finding alien life in space, even in the most inhospitable places.

    The lake, which has been completely sealed off from the rest of the world for 2,800 years, is devoid of light and oxygen, but is surprisingly teeming with microbial life

    (Source: theweek.com)


  11. Analysis of 14 recently resurfaced photos reveals what we’ve suspected all along: Albert Einstein’s physical brain “was better than yours,” says Doyle Rice at USA Today. Though not at first glance. 


    Photo: Keystone/Getty Images 

    (Source: theweek.com)


  12. This does not equate to a loss of life, but it is extremely disheartening to see years of research go down the drain.
    — An NYU source remarks on the loss of years of medical research, destroyed by Hurricane Sandy

    (Source: theweek.com)


  13. The British government’s meteorological service recently released new figures on global temperatures that prompted the Daily Mail, a conservative British tabloid, to declare: "Global warming stopped 16 years ago." 

    The bold headline rekindled the often bitter debate over climate change, and what world leaders should do about it. Have climate scientists changed their minds about what’s happening to Earth’s temperatures, and how pollution affects those temperatures? Did global warming really stop 16 years ago?

    Photo: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

    (Source: theweek.com)