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The Most Interesting Science News Articles of the Week


Each week we uncover the most interesting and informative articles from around the world, here are 10 of the coolest stories in science this week.

This diagram shows the Georgetown terrane, in green, joining Australia around 1.6 billion years ago during the formation of the supercontinent Nuna.

This diagram shows the Georgetown terrane, in green, joining Australia around 1.6 billion years ago during the formation of the supercontinent Nuna.

Credit: Geology, https://doi.org/10.1130/G39980.1


Geologists matching rocks from opposite sides of the globe have found that part of Australia was once attached to North America 1.7 billion years ago.


The continents as we know them today have shifted places throughout Earth’s 4-billion-year history. Most recently, these landmasses came together to form the supercontinent known as Pangaea about 300 million years ago. [Read more about the rocks.]

Tilapia skin is full of collagen, which is thought to help burnt skin recover. Notice that the fish-scale pattern is still visible on the bear's bandaged paw.

Tilapia skin is full of collagen, which is thought to help burnt skin recover. Notice that the fish-scale pattern is still visible on the bear’s bandaged paw.

Credit: California Department of Fish and Wildlife


A fishy treatment has helped heal two black bears and a mountain lion whose paws were badly scorched in the deadly Thomas Fire, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). [Read more about the odd bandages.]

Scientists analyzed the eight teeth remaining in the upper jaw found in Misliya Cave.

Scientists analyzed the eight teeth remaining in the upper jaw found in Misliya Cave.

Credit: Israel Hershkovitz/Tel Aviv University


The oldest fossils of modern humans outside Africa have been discovered in Israel, a new study finds.


Scientists have long debated when and how the modern human lineage spread out of Africa to colonize the rest of the world. Previous research suggested the exodus from Africa started between 70,000 and 40,000 years ago. [Read more about the teeth.]

Earth's precarious future is measured in minutes on the hypothetical Doomsday Clock, and its hands are currently creeping perilously close to midnight.

Earth’s precarious future is measured in minutes on the hypothetical Doomsday Clock, and its hands are currently creeping perilously close to midnight.

Credit: Shutterstock


The “Doomsday Clock,” a hypothetical timepiece that measures humanity’s proximity to destruction by our own actions, hovers perilously close to midnight, the time that denotes global Armageddon.


The new time was set by the BAS’ Science and Security Board, a group of scientists and other experts in nuclear technology and climate science. [Read more about the clock.]

This bird's-eye view shows the current state of the possible slave ship, which is 124 feet (38 meters) long.

This bird’s-eye view shows the current state of the possible slave ship, which is 124 feet (38 meters) long.

Credit: Ben Raines/BRaines@al.com


More than 150 years ago, a wealthy man made a heinous bet, boasting he could sneak a ship filled with African slaves into the United States, even though it was illegal to import slaves into the country at that time. After some stealthy maneuvering, the man won the bet and later burned the ship to hide the evidence. [Read more about the ship.]


When your cat knocks your favorite coffee mug off the counter, does it use its left paw or its right?


In this study, Wells and her colleagues studied paw-preference data from 44 cats (24 male and 20 female) of varying breeds, gathered over three months by the cats’ owners. [Read more about the southpaws.]

A styrofoam particle, 0.6 inches (1.6 cm) in diameter, levitates in the center of an ultrasonic generator of virtual vortices.

A styrofoam particle, 0.6 inches (1.6 cm) in diameter, levitates in the center of an ultrasonic generator of virtual vortices.

Credit: University of Bristol


A new “tractor beam” can levitate large objects in midair, using only sound.


Levitating objects with sound is not new, but the size of the objects has long been limited: the object being levitated could not be larger than the wavelength of the sound waves holding it up. [Read more about levitation.]

The newly deciphered Dead Sea Scroll was found in "cave four" (shown here), near the site of Qumran in Israel.

The newly deciphered Dead Sea Scroll was found in “cave four” (shown here), near the site of Qumran in Israel.

Credit: Shutterstock


Scholars have deciphered a Dead Sea Scroll written in a Hebrew code, finding that it contains part of a 364-day calendar of holy days.


Scholars still aren’t sure why this scroll, along with a few other Dead Sea Scrolls, were written in code. [Read more about the code.]


Deer in at least 22 U.S. states and parts of Canada have died from a neurological disease called “chronic wasting disease,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But could this illness, which is sometimes dubbed “zombie deer disease,” spread to people, just as “mad cow disease” has done in the past? [Read more about the illness.]

An illustration provided by Physical Review Letters shows a beam of light reflecting off of the quantum mirror.

An illustration provided by Physical Review Letters shows a beam of light reflecting off of the quantum mirror.

Credit: A. Imamoğlu and P. Back/ETH/Physical Review Letters


Two separate teams of scientists have built the thinnest mirrors in the world: sheets of molybdenum diselenide (MoSe2), each just a single atom wide.


That feat of engineering is interesting all on its own. But the researchers wrote that their thin mirrors could be useful, playing important roles in very small, specialized sensors and computer chips that use laser beams to carry information. [Read more about the mirrors.]


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