Which creatures contribute more than $1 billion annually to agriculture? An error occurred loading the Quiz. Please try again later. A phallus Moose Question Cats Wolves Simi Valley: woolly mammoth Score A foot Start Quiz LOADING You Beta-carotine Swallows Albert Einstein would be so proud. Or not. Last week, scientists from Georgia Tech won the Ig Nobel prize in physics for their discovery of a “universal urination duration.” Modeling the fluid dynamics of urination in cats, goats, cows, and even elephants, they found that—regardless of size—most mammals empty their bladders in about 21 seconds. The remarkably consistent “scaling law,” which depends on the higher pressures found in longer urethras, could inspire designs from water towers to water-filled backpacks, say the honorees. Anybody want a drink? Defective immune cells Prescription drugs in the water supply An arm The Ig Nobels are an annual award ceremony honoring the “most improbable” research findings. One of this year’s awards went to a study showing: Omega-3 New research shows that your canine companion might not be as smart as you think. Scientists came to this conclusion after making dogs square off with what creature? Arctic hares A record-breaking solar flare Whiskey A “golden ratio” determines the rate at which Rice Krispies pop Double-stuffed Oreos What rare celestial event (pictured here) did NASA telescopes capture last Sunday? Spain: early Neandertals. Scientists announced last week they had sequenced the oldest nuclear DNA from an early human—between 300,000 and 400,000 years old! The samples came from a place called the “Pit of Bones” or “Sima de los Huesos” in northern Spain. Until the latest round of sequencing, researchers didn’t know whether the bones belonged to ancient Neandertals, Denisovans, or some other ancestor of early humans. The new find dramatically changes the human family tree, pushing back the split between our ancestors and Neandertals to as much as 800,000 years ago—100,000 to 400,000 years earlier than expected! Record heat is encouraging the rise of what critter in the Arctic? Last week, scientists reported creating an artificial body part that gave its users “full sensation.” Was it: A supermoon eclipse South Africa: a new human species, Homo naledi Share your score Results: You answered out of correctly – Click to revisit Cockroaches Bats. Corn farmers should give thanks to bats for protecting their fields. A new study finds that the winged mammals save farmers more than $1 billion every year by devouring moths whose larvae destroy corn crops. Using nets to keep bats out of cornfields, scientists found that these “protected” fields are actually unprotected from corn-eating larvae. Ears grown where bats couldn’t feed had 56% more larvae-damaged kernels. On the whole, bats increased crop yield by 1.4%—a benefit that, on average and at current corn prices, adds up to a difference of about $7.88 per hectare ($3.18 per acre) and more than $1 billion worldwide. Tomato juice Regardless of size, it takes most mammals 21 seconds to pee A “nuclear” eclipse 0 / 10 Defective immune cells. Immune cells are usually described as soldiers fighting invading viruses and bacteria. But they may also be waging another battle: the war against fat. When mice lack a specific type of immune cell, researchers have found they become obese and show signs of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. The findings have yet to be replicated in humans, but they are already helping scientists understand the triggers of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions associated with obesity. Human babies An arm. Scientists have reportedly created a prosthetic arm that gives its wearer the sensation of touch. The technology, developed by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is the first of its kind and a major breakthrough for artificial limbs. In the past, brain-operated prosthetics have sent signals from brains to artificial limbs, but never before in the opposite direction. Sort of gives a new meaning to the phrase “I’ll be back.” A double eclipse Mosquitoes A double eclipse. This rare event—when Earth and the moon both pass in front of the sun’s face at the same time—was witnessed by NASA’s orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory. Though the observatory sees numerous eclipses every year, this is the first time it has captured both Earth and the moon aligning with the sun in one frame. Earth’s fuzzy edge is near the top of the frame, whereas the moon—which appears crystal clear due to its lack of atmosphere—covers the left side of the sun. Mosquitoes. There’s an arms race going on among insects in the Arctic, where temperatures are increasing faster than anywhere else on the planet—and mosquitoes are winning. Scientists have found that warming temperatures may speed up the development of the insects and increase the rate at which other predators eat them. But because they develop so much faster than they can be devoured, an increase of 2°C—the current target cap for global warming—bumps the average mosquito’s probability of survival into adulthood by 53%. Get those swatters ready! What is scientists’ latest explanation for obesity? Donald Trump What beverage has finally been found to disrupt our body clocks? Coffee. As many indulgers know, an after-dinner espresso may taste great, but it keeps you up long past your bedtime. Remarkably, scientists had no proof that it disrupted our internal clocks until now. Using caffeine pills, researchers found that an evening jolt not only disrupts sleep, but also resets the body’s circadian clock, the set of molecular signals that keeps a person on a 24-hour schedule. Drinking the equivalent of a double espresso 3 hours before bedtime shifts the clock back by an average of 40 minutes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to do much for pushing back the start of work the next day. Wolves. In an experiment that pitted man’s best friend against its wild cousins, the canines had to open a sealed container full of sausage, using only a rope tie to pull off the lid. Round one went to the wolves. Eight out of 10 managed the trick, compared with just one out of 20 dogs. (The winner came from a shelter.) Why the difference? Scientists say it may come down to how we raise our pets. When we tell them “no,” they learn to inhibit their actions and wait for directions. Dogs in the study made little effort to solve the puzzle, for example, until they were encouraged by a human companion. Maybe it isn’t such a bad thing to be raised by wolves after all! September 21, 2015 The Science Quiz Test your knowledge of last week’s hottest science news! Siberia: early Denisovans NASA/SDO Owls The 5-second rule should be changed to the 4.5-second rule Toxic air from growing landfills Snakes Top Ranker 0 The Science Quiz A hand What is the newest way to protect failing eyesight in kids? Regular exposure to sunlight. Scientists say a sunny afternoon game of tag or pick-up soccer may have some unexpected benefits for kids. Along with the well-known perks of exercise, running around in the sun also protects eyesight. Researchers found that over a 3-year period, 40 minutes of extra sunlight per day reduced the overall rate of myopia, or near-sightedness, in kids by 10%. Wine Regular exposure to sunlight Regular sleeping patterns September 21, 2015 Coffee Bats Average Extremely long kissing sessions increase halitosis rates by 65% Spain: early Neandertals Where is the “Pit of Bones,” and what was buried there? Time’s Up!