THE year began with news that a beech marten (not, as initially reported, a weasel) had shut down the Large Hadron Collider, just after it reported a mysterious blip (not, as initially reported, a new particle). More satisfyingly, astronomers revealed the "chirp" of two black holes colliding, as overheard by the most sensitive instrument on Earth. Thinning ice is letting daylight pass deep into the polar oceans. Bridges built in Bermuda have radically altered the genitalia of mosquitofish. And a computer program that writes "Hello World" was inserted into the DNA of a tobacco plant.
Now to a story that's taken a weight off some scientists' shoulders... Scientists from 60 nations have gathered in France and cheered after making the landmark decision to overhaul the way the value of a kilogram is assessed. Al Jazeera's Neave Barker reports from Versailles, on the outskirts of Paris, about what it all means.
The context attached to our memories is important for helping us remember...or forget. When people say, "Forget you heard that," they don't usually mean literally. But it turns out that you can stop yourself from remembering, at least on a small scale. People can intentionally forget memories by changing how they think about the context those memories were made in, scientists reported this week in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. In the experiment, people studied a random list of words while viewing pictures of landscapes such as beaches or forests.
Pluto was shrouded in mystery until NASA's New Horizons probe zipped by the dwarf planet almost three years ago. As images transmitted back to Earth, Pluto went from a fuzzy dot to a complex world. Between towering mountains, flowing nitrogen ice glaciers, and blue skies, surprises abounded. But after spotting a striped pattern on the edge of the Sputnik Planitia ice plain that looked remarkably like sand dunes found on Earth, scientists were left scratching their heads. Dunes on Earth require strong winds to form, and Pluto's atmosphere was thought to be far too thin for such winds to exist on the dwarf planet.
FILE - In this July 26, 2016 file photo, actor Alan Alda attends a special screening of "Equity", in New York. Alda wants scientists to answer a question for 11-year-old children: What is energy? He says it is important for scientists to be able to communicate complex concepts in a simple fashion. His annual contest are judged by 11-year-olds around the world who access the contest online.