How Tabby cats got their stripes, interstellar spaceflight explored and dyslexia roots exposed, Science brought us some great insights this week.
How the Tabby Got Its Stripes
From where does a tabby cat get its stripes? The same place cheetahs get their spots.<br><br>
A new study finds the same gene that is responsible for the cheetah's color patterns causes a tabby's stripes. Mutations in this newly identified gene transform a tabby's typical striped pattern into a less familiar "blotched" look. In cheetahs, similar mutations smear spots into thick stripes.
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/23348-how-the-tabby-cat-got-its-stripes.html>Feline Find: How the Tabby Cat Got Its Stripes</a>]
Could Science Rule Out God?
Over the past few centuries, science can be said to have gradually chipped away at the traditional grounds for believing in God. Much of what once seemed mysterious — the existence of humanity, the life-bearing perfection of Earth, the workings of the universe — can now be explained by biology, astronomy, physics and other domains of science.
Although cosmic mysteries remain, Sean Carroll, a theoretical cosmologist at the California Institute of Technology, says there's good reason to think science will ultimately arrive at a complete understanding of the universe that leaves no grounds for God whatsoever.<br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/23251-science-religion-god-physics.html>Will Science Someday Rule Out the Possibility of God?</a>]
Psychopaths Have Poor Sense of Smell
New research suggests we may be able to sniff out psychopaths by their poor scores on a smell test.
In the study, psychologists at Macquarie University in Australia tested the noses of more than 70 college-age participants, all without criminal records. The researchers had the subjects try to identify common odors (like orange, coffee and leather) and distinguish between different scents.<br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/23350-psychopaths-have-poor-sense-of-smell-study-finds.html>Psychopaths Have Poor Sense of Smell, Study Finds</a>]
'Jesus Wife' Papyrus Found
A Harvard historian has identified a faded, fourth-century scrap of papyrus she calls "The Gospel of Jesus's Wife." One line of the torn fragment of text purportedly reads: "Jesus said to them, 'My wife …'" The following line states, "she will be able to be my disciple."<br><br>
The finding was announced to the public today (Sept. 18) by Karen King, a historian of early Christianity, author of several books about new Gospel discoveries and the Hollis professor of divinity at Harvard Divinity School. King first examined the privately owned fragment in 2011, and has since been studying it with the help of a small group of scholars.<br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/23284-jesus-wife-gospel-suggests.html>Jesus Had a Wife, Newly Discovered Gospel Suggests</a>]
Warp Drive May Be Feasible
HOUSTON — A warp drive to achieve faster-than-light travel — a concept popularized in television's Star Trek — may not be as unrealistic as once thought, scientists say.<br><br>
A warp drive would manipulate space-time itself to move a starship, taking advantage of a loophole in the laws of physics that prevent anything from moving faster than light. A concept for a real-life warp drive was suggested in 1994 by Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre; however, subsequent calculations found that such a device would require prohibitive amounts of energy.<br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/23293-warp-drive-possible-interstellar-spaceflight.html>Warp Drive May Be More Feasible Than Thought, Scientists Say</a>]
Chemical Turns Rats Into M&M Eating Machines
A part of the brain usually associated with movement may also control our responses to rewards, according to new research that finds stimulation of the region with an opium-like chemical can make rats gorge on M&M candies.<br><br>
The brain naturally produces opioids, or chemicals with similarities to the drug. One of these, enkephalin, induced hungry rats to pounce on chocolate treats faster the more of the chemical they produced, researchers report online today (Sept. 20) in the journal Current Biology.<br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/23345-brain-chemical-triggers-overeating.html>Brain Candy: Chemical Turns Rats into M&M Eating Machines</a>]
Dyslexic Brain Hears Fuzzy Sounds
Dyslexia may be rooted in a problem the brain has in teasing out distinct sounds from the incoming garble, researchers say.<br><br>
Considered a learning disability, dyslexia makes it difficult to read and spell for the estimated 15 percent of Americans who have it. Although dyslexia causes reading problems, the disorder is often linked to subtle difficulties with spoken language, such as trouble distinguishing rhyming syllables such as "ba" and "pa."<br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/23343-dyslexia-learning-disorder-sounds.html>Dyslexic Brain Hears Fuzzy Sounds</a>]
Do Religion & Interstellar Travel Mix?
Sending people to another star will be a monumental undertaking, and the challenges will be not just technological, but human. One thorny question, experts say, is whether to involve organized religions in the effort to mount an interstellar journey.<br><br>
Religious leaders argued the issue Sept. 14 in Houston at the 100 Year Starship Symposium, a meeting to discuss the prospect of sending a space mission to another star within 100 years.<br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/23339-interstellar-travel-religion-conflict.html>Should Humanity Take Religion on Interstellar Space Voyage?</a>]
3D Printer Brings Extinct Creature to Life
Scientists have created a lifelike model of a long-extinct sea creature using a 3D printer.<br><br>
The oval-shaped mollusk — a type of multiplacophoran called <i>Protobalanus spinicoronatus</i> — creeped around on ocean floors 390 million years ago with a single, suction-like foot. It also had an imposing armor of stiff plates surrounded by a ring of spines, but scientists were not sure how exactly these features were arranged. Most known fossil specimens of multiplacophorans are broken and decayed.<br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/23329-mollusk-reconstructed.html>Long-Gone Mollusk Comes to Life with 3D Printer</a>]
Source of Bermuda's Red Soils Found
Bermuda is known for its white sand beaches and its stunning red soils, called "terra rossa." But the origin of this red earth has been a bone of contention among geologists. How did it get there?
A new study suggests that much of it blew in all the way from Africa, accumulating little by little over the last 1 million years or so. In the study, published Sept. 1 in the Journal of Geophysical Research, scientists found that the chemical makeup of Bermuda's red soils closely matched that of clay-rich dust blown out of Africa.<br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/23320-bermuda-red-soil-source-found.html>Bermuda's Stunning Red Soils Likely Blew in From Africa</a>]
Will Humans Someday All Look Alike?
It really happened: Six generations of inbreeding spanning the years 1800 to 1960 caused an isolated population of humans living in the hills of Kentucky to become blue-skinned.<br><br>
The startlingly blue people, all descendants of a French immigrant named Martin Fugate and still living near his original settlement on the banks of Troublesome Creek when hematologists studied them in the 1960s, turned out to have a rare blood condition called methemoglobinemia. A recessive gene was pairing with itself to change the molecular composition of their blood, making it brown as opposed to red, which tinted their skin blue.<br><br>
It sounds sordid at worst and lazy at best, but in fact, the Fugates' tale is a miniature version of the story of human coupling since time immemorial. Local populations interbreed, causing a sharing of genes, a resulting in-group physical resemblance and, eventually, identification as a distinct race or ethnic group. <br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/23277-will-humans-eventually-all-look-like-brazilians.html>Will Humans Eventually All Look Like Brazilians?</a>]