The mystery of dark energy, a ping pong ball in space and a new world's highest temperature — there were some super-cool stories in Science this week. Check these out!
Dark Energy Is Real
Dark energy, the mysterious substance thought to be accelerating the expansion of the universe, almost certainly exists despite some astronomers' doubts, a new study says.
After a two-year study, an international team of researchers concludes that the probability of dark energy being real stands at 99.996 percent. But the scientists still don't know what the stuff is.
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/23125-dark-energy-real-universe-expansion.html>Elusive Dark Energy Is Real, Study Says</a>]
Golden Goose Awards Announced
Science that's seemingly silly — but is actually significant — received some enchanted recognition recently. Discoveries involving glowing jellyfish, radiation waves and tropical coral have garnered the first Golden Goose Awards Thursday (Sept. 13) night.
"We've all seen reports that ridicule odd-sounding research projects as examples of government waste," said Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), who had the original idea for the award. "The Golden Goose Award does the opposite. It recognizes that a valuable federally funded research project may sound funny, but its purpose is no laughing matter." Cooper originally came up with the idea to educate the public and Congress on the value of federally funded basic scientific research.<br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/23203-golden-goose-awards-honor-silly-science.html>Golden Goose Awards Honor 'Silly' Science</a>]
Ping Pong Balls Ride to Edge of Space
A do-it-yourself space program is gearing up to return to the edge of Earth’s atmosphere, floating above the world and the boundary between sky and stars.
All manner of payloads, a majority of them contained in ping pong balls (dubbed PongSats) created by students from all over the globe, will be carried by a series of weather balloons later this month.<br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/23206-pongsat-ping-pong-balls-space-balloon.html>Ping Pong Ball 'Satellites' Have Balloon Ride to Edge of Space</a>]
Solved: Color Change in Van Gogh Painting
Parts of Vincent van Gogh's "Flowers in a blue vase" painting have mysteriously changed color over time, and now scientists have figured out why: A chemical reaction between the paint and a protective varnish supposedly applied to the painting after the artist's death in 1890 turned his bright yellow flowers an orange-gray color.
The chemical degradation occurred right at the interface between the paint and the varnish, the researchers added.<br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/23194-van-gogh-painting-color-change.html>Cause of Puzzling Color Change in Van Gogh Painting Found</a>]
Naked Monk & Hallucinogenic Berries
Hallucinogenic berries, not religious experience, likely caused the strange behavior of a scraped-up monk who was discovered stumbling naked through a German forest last Thursday (Sept. 6), according to NBC.<br><br>
A concerned hiker who spotted the naked man and tried unsuccessfully to assist him notified police in the Bavarian town of Unterwössen, according to news reports. Police found the man cold and disoriented and took him to the hospital.
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/23174-naked-monk-berries.html>Naked German Monk Likely a Victim of Hallucinogenic Berries</a>]
Help Wanted: Bigfoot Researcher
Add Bigfoot research to the recession-proof industries. A website called All over Albany has alerted the Internet to a job opening on Craigslist that — for a primate-lover with an open mind and a (preferably) four-wheel-drive vehicle — could be the opportunity of a lifetime.
The Craigslist post, which seeks a research assistant, explains:
"Not for profit organization, located in Whitehall, NY is a high-energy, team-oriented research entity that is involved in the tracking, documenting, and study of cryptozoological creatures, with a deep interest in the study and search of bipedal primitive apes. We seek an experienced researcher with a deep understanding of cryptozoology, primatology, with a good background with scientific research and interest in great apes." <br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/23132-bigfoot-job-posting.html>Help Wanted: Bigfoot Researcher</a>]
New Hottest Temperature Found
El Azizia, Libya, no longer holds the title for "world's hottest temperature." Today, that record passes to Death Valley, Calif.<br><br>
No, a heat wave didn't pass through the notoriously baking area yesterday. The new record-setting temperature of 134 degrees Fahrenheit (56.7 degrees Celsius) was actually recorded in Death Valley on July 10, 1913.<br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/23156-new-world-hottest-temperature.html>New World's Hottest Temperature Declared</a>]
Skeleton May Be King Richard III
A human skeleton with a cleaved skull discovered beneath a parking lot in England may belong to King Richard III, researchers announced today (Sept. 12), though they have a long way to go in analyzing the bones to determine the identity.
The researchers note they are not saying they have found King Richard III's remains, but that they are moving into the next phase of their search, from the field to the laboratory.<br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/23113-human-skeleton-king-richard-iii-grave.html>Battle-Bruised Skeleton May Be King Richard III</a>]
A No-Bubble Boil
A new nanomaterial vanquishes the bubbles that normally pop up with boiling, a finding that may point to ways to help prevent explosions in nuclear power plants, researchers say.<br><br>
To understand how this material works, imagine a hot skillet. When its surface is warm, water on it will bubble. However, once the skillet gets hot enough, the water drops will skitter across its surface as they levitate on a cushion of vapor, an effect known as the Leidenfrost regime after the scientist who investigated it in 1756.<br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/23161-look-ma-no-bubbles-new-material-boils-without-the-froth.html>Look Ma, No Bubbles! New Material Boils Without the Froth</a>]
Sexual Arousal Lessens Disgust
Feeling disgusted? For women, chasing away the stomach-churning emotion may be as easy as seeking sexual arousal.<br><br>
Disgust is a powerful feeling that helps defend people from potentially sickening circumstances. Objectively, sexual intercourse could be seen as one of those circumstances, involving, as it does, saliva and other bodily fluids. But new research raises the interesting question of how a vital but potentially icky activity such as sex can seem pleasant and doable. Perhaps it's because sexual arousal somehow dampens the natural disgust response.<br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/23136-sexual-arousal-dampens-disgust.html>That's Not Gross! Sexual Arousal Lessens Disgust</a>]
Telescope Implant Restores Vision
Virginia Bane, an 89-year-old California-based artist, stopped painting four years ago when she lost her central vision to end-stage age-related macular degeneration. But surgeons at the University of California, Davis, have implanted a miniature telescope into her eye in a new type of procedure that restored some of her vision.<br><br>
"I can see better than ever now," Bane said in a statement from UC Davis. "Colors are more vibrant, beautiful and natural, and I can read large print with my glasses. I haven't been able to read for the past seven years. I look forward to being able to paint again."<br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/23120-telescope-implant-may-restore-vision-in-aging-eyes.html>Tiny Telescope Implant Restores Vision in Aging Eyes</a>]