What you might have missed

Our science stories this week included everything from Lichens surviving a mass extinction event, to research that shows how we assess robots, ancient DNA solving a Mediterranean mystery and a game controlled by the mind.  

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

It’s not just Titan. Astrobiologists still have eyes for Enceladus

Although NASA’s new Dragonfly mission to Titan will be the first return to the Saturn system to follow up on the discoveries of the Cassini mission, astrobiologists are already prepping to return to another of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus.

Read the full story here

A game that really exercises the mind

US computer engineers have reported creating a way for two people to help a third person solve a problem using only their minds.

It’s called BrainNet and, the team from the University of Washington says, it is the first demonstration of two things: a brain-to-brain network of more than two people, and a person being able to both receive and send information to others using only their brain.

Read the full story here

World could support many more trees, research shows

The world has room for nearly a billion hectares of extra trees, new research shows.

That would be enough to capture two-thirds of the planet’s human-induced carbon emissions – sucking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to convert into sugars through photosynthesis

Read the full story here

Ancient DNA sheds some light on a Mediterranean mystery

Migrants from Southern Europe were the likely source of distinctive architecture and pottery associated with the ancient Philistines, an analysis of ancient genomes reveals.

According to the Hebrew Bible, the Philistines occupied five separate city-states along the coast of modern-day Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Read the full story here. 

Creepy robots are all in your head

Researchers have mapped out the way our brain decides whether a robot is likeable or looks too human – and therefore repulsive.

The more robots look like humans, the more we like them. But only up to a point.

The effect is reversed once the resemblance becomes too close, when robots begin to strike observers as eerie, unsettling and unlikeable.

Read the full story here.

Lichens thrived while those around them fell

It seems not everything got fried when an asteroid smacked into the Earth 66 million years ago.

New research suggests some types of lichens – organisms made of fungi and algae living together – seized the moment and evolved into new forms to take up plants’ role in the ecosystem.

Read the full story here

And here’s our image of the week:

190701 iotd full

Researchers have simulated the moment in development when the body starts to separate into two distinct halves – here, yellow and green cells.

Laboratory of Stem Cell Biology and Molecular Embryology at The Rockefeller University

Researchers at Rockefeller University in the US have used stem cells to create a 3D model of early embryonic tissues, allowing them to simulate developmental processes as they occur in time and space.

Read the full story here.

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

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