National Geographic News


Giant 'Mirror' Planets Found in First-of-Its-Kind Experiment

National Geographic News

Plus, several planets--including a transiting hot Jupiter in the Kepler field--do indeed reflect their star's light. So, using thousands of synthetic data sets, as well as observations from those known planets, Millholland and Laughlin trained an algorithm to sift through the massive Kepler data set and search for shiny planets. Millholland ran the program on 142,630 Kepler stars, looking for large, non-transiting worlds that orbit their stars in less than one Earth-week. One way to answer that question is to look for hot Jupiters using Millholland's method in systems where smaller worlds have been detected orbiting rather far from their stars.


Quiz: Can You Tell If This Monkey Wants to Bite?

National Geographic News

A new study from the University of Lincoln found that when humans try to guess the facial expressions of Barbary macaques, they often get them wrong--really wrong. Laëtitia Maréchal, one of the study's authors, attributes this misunderstanding to the human tendency to anthropomorphize animals, or attribute them with human characteristics. Of the mistakes made in correctly guessing what a macaque was attempting to communicate, experts made just under seven percent of the mistakes, participants exposed to 2D images made 20 percent of the mistakes, and novices accounted for 40 percent of the mistakes made. Fuentes noted that in addition to facial expressions, macaques communicate using their body language and how closely they stand next to another individual.


Watch a Problem-Solving Raven Outsmart a Trash Can

National Geographic News

Video taken in Haines, Alaska, shows one clever raven unlocking a weighted trash bin. In addition to their dumpster-diving antics, she has observed them pestering bald eagles and stealing food from the back of open pick-up trucks. He believes this suggests the birds were acting intentionally and logically. A 2016 study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences offered further insight into how corvids perform functions similar to apes and chimps using only their little walnut-sized brains.


Where Dating Apps Save Lives

National Geographic News

There is a perception that Thailand is kind of like this queer paradise. People have a sense that there is this longstanding culture around trans femininity. The reality is that, much like everywhere in the world, there's still a lot of transphobia there and there's still a lot of homophobia. I think it's hard to overestimate homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia all across the world.


What Inspires Creativity? 6 Tips That Might Spark Yours

National Geographic News

Being in nature can boost creative thinking skills: One study in 2012 found that hikers performed as much as 50 percent better at creative problem-solving after spending four days out in the woods, disconnected from technology. One study found that people who spend a few days in the wilderness boosted their creative problem-solving skills. Author Eric Weiner also found this in writing about the geography of genius, noting, "We think of the ancient Athenians as inventing democracy, art, and philosophy. "No one pays attention to [bubbles], but they're important," says physicist Helen Czerski, because a bubble, which is made up of a liquid and a gas, can do things that the liquid and gas, each individually, can't do."


New Birdlike Dinosaur Had Modern Feathers

National Geographic News

Early ancestors of birds evolved feathers before they were capable of flight, and even the presence of feathers associated with flight--for example, the asymmetrical feathers found on this new species--doesn't mean that an animal could actually fly. "It is extremely challenging to accurately reconstruct aerodynamic capabilities in early fossil birds and bird-like dinosaurs, because there is a lot of missing data to deal with," says Michael Pittman, a paleontologist at the University of Hong Kong and an author of this study, in an e-mail. The new species' skull and legs are more similar to later species of troodontids, but its arms and pelvis are more similar to early species--a discovery that suggests some features evolved faster than others. "Knowing that the closest common ancestor of birds had asymmetrical feathers is extremely exciting," says Pittman.


How Creativity Drives Human Evolution

National Geographic News

To grow the kind of baby that we do, with this giant brain, who can't do anything for the first 3-5 years of life, you need a lot of input. As much as 1.5-1.7 million years ago, we start to see a shift in the fossils, which suggests that more than one or two individuals became closely involved in taking care of the young. Fast forward to the last couple hundred thousand years, and it is absolutely clear that the human success story is part and parcel of our incredible ability to "take a whole village" to raise a child, as the old saying goes. The nuclear family--Mom, Dad, a couple kids, and a dog--is not only very recent but is not even typical of the way most people live in the world.


Listen to an Earthquake's Eerie 'Whale Songs'

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Holtzman and Candler co-produce the show--with Holtzman writing scientific content, creating sounds from seismic data, and working with collaborators to produce the visual elements, while Candler handles the sound engineering and design and helps with the writing and conception of the show. Holtzman and Candler use the SeismoDome project to explain concepts like surface waves and plate tectonics, in order to educate people not just about earthquakes, but also what earthquakes tell us about the Earth more broadly. "Our aim is to demystify earthquakes, but more importantly to get people to see them as a natural process," explains Holtzman. Holtzman adds, "because large earthquakes repeat on time scales that can be longer than our generational memories, people lose sight of the hazard.


The Adorable Maps Today's Cartographers Made as Kids

National Geographic News

Several of them recall spending family trips poring over a road atlas in the back seat, for example. She went on to get a master's degree in Geographic Information Systems, and today she works as a GIS specialist at New York City Emergency Management, handling data and making maps to help the city prepare for and respond to all sorts of emergencies. In his job at Stanford's Spatial History Project, he spends more time on cartography, working with people in the humanities and mapping things like emotional geography. Three maps by Mike Foster, clockwise from upper left: "To Grandpa from Mike" age 5, "Calumet City" age 9, "Webster" age 13 A couple of years after Mike Foster's grandfather passed away, his grandmother found a hand-drawn map tucked away in his grandfather's sock drawer.


Turning Images of Earth into Abstract Art

National Geographic News

It's just one of many remarkable images recently posted to Instagram by Bill Morris, a cartographer at Faraday, a data analytics company in Burlington, Vermont. Morris started playing around with a smartphone app called Prisma, which lets you alter photos to emulate the style of famous artists. The image at the top of this post was created from a photo taken by the San Francisco–based satellite imagery company Planet Labs. It's an apt metaphor for how humans have altered the natural landscape, Morris says.