What you might have missed

Here’s a snapshot of a few stories we particularly enjoyed. Click on the links to read them in full. You can also see all the week’s yarns here

Was Earth’s oxygenation a gradual process?

Earth’s oxygen comes from plants and other photosynthetic organisms. Scientists have long known that. But an enormous puzzle has been why, over the course of two billion years, the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere appears to have risen in a series of three large steps, separated by long plateaus.

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Structured for strength

Ever looked at your hair and studied its split ends, fretting over the apparent damage? A new study suggests that those split ends actually allow your hair to endure greater tension before it breaks.

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The Bunny Identity

Scientists may just have come up with a plot device for the next instalment of the Bourne movie franchise, in the form of a plastic bunny and a rather innocuous-looking pair of spectacles.

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Near-Earth asteroid numbers grow in record year

People using telescopes to stare at the night sky on December 20 or 26 might see a distant light traversing the heavens, but proclaiming it as a harbinger of a New Testament rerun would be unwise.

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Bio-inspired gel is tough when it counts

Japanese researchers have developed a gel that goes hard when exposed to heat then softens again when cooled.

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Timber travelled in Roman times

Analysis of unusually well-preserved oak boards found in the centre of Rome has revealed they were sourced from as far as 1700 kilometres away.

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And here’s our image of the week 

191212 squid
Jeffrey Jolly, OIST

Japanese and Australian scientists have identified this new species of bobtail squid in the waters around Japan’s Okinawa islands.

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To view all this week’s featured images, click here

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