An alien neighbor, another contribution from cadavers and the giant eyeball mystery solved are just a few of the stories Science brought us this week. Check these out.
Why Aren't Insects Human-Size?
The Ant-Man cometh.
Director Edgar Wright, known for movies such as "Shaun of the Dead," announced earlier this week he would be making a movie about Ant-Man, a comic superhero who can shrink to the size of an ant and communicate with his formic brethren, according to the news site Grantland. If it's anything like the comic, it will also feature ants as big as humans, which got us thinking: Could ants be as big as people? And why aren't insects bigger than they are?
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/24122-why-insects-are-not-bigger.html>Why Aren't Insects Human-Size?</a>]
No Runway Needed?
In the future, U.S. soldiers abroad may see their supplies come in carried under the bellies of zeppelins. Aeros Corp., a California-based startup, is working on a high-tech prototype airship on the behalf of the U.S. Department of Defense. When completed, Aeros' Pelican zeppelin will test a novel combination of airship and airplane technologies for carrying cargo long distances, the industry news site Aviation Week reported.<br><br>
In the Pelican's first test flights, scheduled for early 2013, developers just want to see that they can fly and control the aircraft, Aeros CEO Igor Pasternak told Aviation Week. In the future, Aeros hopes to build a larger version of the Pelican to carry tens of tons of cargo, like current military cargo planes do. Unlike planes, however, the Pelican should be able to take off and land vertically, so it won't need long runways at its landing sites. It should also be able to sit on the ground while it's being loaded, so it won't require tethers like other airships, and it will be able to land in poor weather. <br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/24106-military-zeppelin-could-land-cargo-without-a-runway.html>Military Zeppelin Could Land Cargo without a Runway</a>]
Feverishly hot ocean surface waters potentially reaching more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) may have helped cause the greatest mass extinction in Earth's history, researchers say.<br><br>
"We may have found the hottest time the world has ever had," researcher Paul Wignall, a geologist at the University of Leeds in England, told LiveScience.<br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/24091-extreme-global-warming-mass-extinction.html>Extreme Global Warming May Have Caused Largest Extinction Ever</a>]
New Alien Neighbor Discovered!
The star system closest to our own sun hosts a planet with roughly Earth's mass and may harbor other alien worlds as well, a new study reports.<br><br>
Astronomers detected the alien planet around the sunlike star Alpha Centauri B, which is part of a three-star system just 4.3 light-years away from us. The newfound world is about as massive as Earth, but it's no Earth twin; its heat-blasted surface may be covered with molten rock, researchers said.<br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/24037-earth-size-alien-planet-alpha-centauri.html>Discovery! Earth-Size Alien Planet at Alpha Centauri Is Closest Ever Seen</a>]
Why Spiders Have So Many Eyes
Is it their eight creepy-crawly legs or their eight beady eyes that make spiders a spooky Halloween staple? Either way, new research suggests all those extra pairs of spider peepers have their own roles to play in keeping the arachnids safe.<br><br>
Jumping spiders, a group of spiders that actively hunts its prey rather than trapping it in webs, have four pairs of eyes (as do most spiders). A new study finds that while the center, or principal, pair of eyes is good at picking out details, one of the side pairs is crucial for warning spiders when something is coming their way.<br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/24054-why-spiders-have-eight-eyes.html>Jeepers, Peepers: Why Spiders Have So Many Eyes</a>]
When Women Look Like Men
Quick, is that figure approaching in a dark alley a man or a woman? Your eyes could lead you astray, new research finds.<br><br>
People are intrinsically biased to assume that an ambiguous silhouette is male rather than female, the new study finds. Though the reason for this bias isn't clear, it could be a protective mechanism — men, who tend to be stronger and more aggressive on the whole, present a greater threat than women.<br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/24038-brain-bias-male-bodies.html>Innate Bias Makes Women Look Like Men</a>]
Creativity Linked to Mental Illness:
Creative types are thought to be more likely to suffer from mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. A new large-scale study of the Swedish population helps confirm this link.<br><br>
Last year, researchers at the Karolinska Institutet near Stockholm found that families with a history of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia were more likely to produce artists and scientists. They built on this evidence in a new study, published this month in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, which covers a larger population sample and a wider scope of psychiatric diagnoses.<br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/24023-study-strengthens-link-between-creativity-and-mental-illness.html>Creativity Linked to Mental Illness, Study Confirms</a>]
Stem Cells from Human Cadaver Brains
Death will come for us all one day, but life will not fade from our bodies all at once. After our lungs stop breathing, our hearts stop beating, our minds stop racing, our bodies cool, and long after our vital signs cease, little pockets of cells can live for days, even weeks. Now scientists have harvested such cells from the scalps and brain linings of human corpses and reprogrammed them into stem cells.<br><br>
In other words, dead people can yield living cells that can be converted into any cell or tissue in the body.<br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/24005-human-cadaver-brains-stem-cells.html>Human Cadaver Brains May Provide New Stem Cells</a>]
Oops! Body in Search for Richard III Nearly Destroyed
Last month, a search for King Richard III's remains turned up a human skeleton beneath a parking lot in England. Researchers have a long way to go in the lab before they can determine whether it belongs to the monarch, but they say they were lucky to have found a body at all. Evidence suggests the grave was almost razed by 19th-century builders.<br><br>
"It was incredibly lucky," archaeologist Mathew Morris, said in a statement. "If the Victorians had dug down 30 cm (12 inches) more they would have built on top of the remains and destroyed them."<br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/23987-richard-iii-body-almost-destroyed.html>Body Found in Search for Richard III Almost Destroyed in 1800s</a>]
Mystery of Giant Eyeball Solved
Fish and wildlife officials have pinpointed the likely source of a giant blue eyeball that washed ashore on a Florida beach last week. After examinations, researchers said they believe the mysterious orb was cut from a swordfish and tossed overboard by a fisherman.<br><br>
"Experts on site and remotely have viewed and analyzed the eye, and based on its color, size and structure, along with the presence of bone around it, we believe the eye came from a swordfish," Joan Herrera, of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC) research institute, said in a statement Monday (Oct. 15). "Based on straight-line cuts visible around the eye, we believe it was removed by a fisherman and discarded."<br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/23967-mystery-eyeball-florida-solved.html>Mystery of Giant Eyeball on Beach Solved</a>]
Allergic to Stress?
An over-excited immune system may explain why some people are susceptible to depression, according to new research on mice.<br><br>
Mice whose immune systems responded to stress by overproducing an inflammatory compound called Interleukin-6 were more likely to become the mousy versions of depressed than mice with non-overactive immune systems, the research found. This same compound is elevated in depressed humans, said study researcher Georgia Hodes, suggesting hope for new depression treatments.<br><br>
[Full Story: <a href=http://www.livescience.com/23938-overactive-immune-system-depression.html>Depression May Be Caused By 'Allergy' to Stress</a>]