Each week we uncover the most interesting and informative articles from around the world, here are 10 of the coolest stories in science this week.
A Visitor from the Cosmos?
Fox News published a startling article Monday (Dec. 3) with the headline "NASA scientist says Earth may have been visited by aliens." Unsurprisingly, that news rocketed around the web, with similar articles soon turning up in the New York Post, Russia Today and The Daily Wire. (Fox appears to have been the first major U.S. news source to run with the story.) [Read more about the truth]
Finding an Elusive Thing
Scientists started watching crystals sparkle in the 1990s. Those crystals sparkled more in the summer, which researchers took as evidence of dark matter. But those scientists were probably wrong, new research suggests.
Based on how dark matter seems to act on the light-emitting matter in the universe, researchers think that the substance tends to cluster in galaxies, holding them together. [Read more about the quest.]
A Great Tale
Over the past few days, several media outlets have reported on a centuries-old claim that the Ark of the Covenant — which allegedly held tablets recording the Ten Commandments — is inside a church in Aksum, Ethiopia, called the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion, and that only the "guardian" of the ark is allowed to see it. [Read more about the myth.]
Dangerous and Deadly
It started with a sinus infection that wouldn't go away. So, in an attempt to give the 69-year-old Seattle woman some relief, doctors recommended that she use a neti pot regularly to rinse out her sinuses. And that's where things went wrong, according to a recent report of the woman's case. [Read more about the infection.]
In a nearly 5,000-year-old tomb in Sweden, researchers have discovered the oldest-known strain of the notorious bacterium Yersinia pestis — the microbe responsible for humanity's perhaps most-feared contagion: the plague. [Read more about the strain.]
Expensive Toothbrush Holder
You never know what you'll find at a flea market … like a 4,000-year-old piece of pottery. That's what a guy in England discovered, though he didn't realize what he had until later, after he'd repurposed the jar as a toothbrush holder. [Read more about the surprise.]
Using Water, Losing Ground
The ground is shifting under Iran's capital, Tehran, home to approximately 15 million people and the biggest city by population in western Asia. High-resolution satellite images recently revealed that in some places, the metropolis of the Middle East is sinking about 10 inches (25 centimeters) per year. [Read more about the dangers.]
A Star Wars Connection
A helicopter team counting caribou in British Columbia, Canada, recently made an unexpected discovery during an aerial survey: Crewmembers spied an opening to a massive cave that had never been seen before and which might be the largest cave in the country. [Read more about the cave.]
A copper finger ring, dating back around 2,000 years, with an incised Greek inscription saying "of Pilatus" has been unearthed in the West Bank.
The design of the ring and its archaeological context mean that it could have been created anytime between the first century B.C. and the mid-first century A.D., the research team reported in an article published a few days ago in the Israel Exploration Journal. [Read more about the ring.]
Secrets from Beneath
A vast plateau of land between England and the Netherlands was once full of life before it sank beneath what is now the North Sea some 8,000 years ago. Archaeologists now hope to find out what the vast landscape looked like before it slipped beneath the salty water so long ago. [Read more about the plateau.]