This Month in Science

The Top 10 Science Stories from April, 2015

In April, rockets landed on autonomous barges (sorta), bullets started guiding themselves and the Brontosaurus got some long-awaited vindication.


10 — So Heady — Like a real-life Dr. Frankenstein without the need for lightning, an Italian neurosurgeon just found a volunteer for his probably way-too-ambitious plan to perform the first human head transplant (or human body transplant, if you want to be all precise about it). To make matters all the more creepy, he’s taken to posing with fake human heads to gain publicity. (check out one such photo & read more at

9 — Space Jam-filled Donut — Because why the heck not(!?), two Swedish youths launched the first donut into space (technically 20-miles up into the stratosphere) on a weather balloon, filming the whole escapade for posterity. The stunt has been described as a total slap in the face to the neighboring Danish. (check out the video of the donut’s ascent and exhilarating plummet back to earth at

8 —  Bum-sniffing Canines — Finally realizing dogs only goose humans out of a sincere concern for their health, scientists put a pair of German shepherds’ noses to a novel use; detecting prostate cancer. Because bending over in front of a German shepherd would be disconcerting (to say the least), the gifted sniffers were given samples of patients’ urine to test, and were successful at detecting cancer over 95% of the time! (read more at

7 — Clean, Clean Up — Hotter than Hansel these days, nano technology is steadily revolutionizing, well… everything. The latest awesome use comes from researchers at Ohio State University who’ve coated steel mesh with oleophobic particles that will let water through, but trap all oil in oil/water mixtures. If they can produce the material cost affectively, this mesh could provide a dispersant-free alternative for oil-spill cleanups. (get all nerdy on the data at

6 — Planet of the Chimps — Risking the wrath of Charlton Heston’s ghost, a NY Supreme Court judge has controversially granted two chimpanzees their day in court and thus, some would argue, personhood. Lawyers from the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) are behind the lawsuit in question, arguing that the two chimps, Hercules and Leo, are too intelligent to be held in captivity at a Stony Brook University laboratory. (read the full story at

5 — Pleistocene Park — Not content to let the lawyers have all the fun making real-life versions of summer blockbusters, scientists have successfully sequenced the complete genomes of two (count ‘em!) wooly mammoths. Aside from raising the potential of bringing the mammoth back from extinction, the data gave scientists incredible insight into how mammoths evolved into the African and Asian elephants we see today. (read the full story at

4 — Putting the Med in Medieval — Apparently desperate for something to read, researchers recently found a medieval recipe for a medicinal salve in a 1,000-year-old medical text called Bald’s Leechbook. Naturally, the whipped up a batch or two of the stuff without many expectations, and were shocked to discover the ointment was incredibly effective in combatting Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA). (read the full story at

3 — DARPA’s Self guided bullet — Because snipers just aren’t terrifying enough, DARPA has just released video of their new EXACTO (Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance) bullets that track moving targets. Shockingly, they aren’t revealing what mechanism they use to control the .50 caliber sniper rounds, but they have released some awesome video of professional and amateur snipers hitting a moving target with frightening accuracy. (check out a video of the target-seeking munitions at

2 — Back to Thunder-ous Applause — In a study that’s very near and dear to our hearts (because the Dino Pet is modeled after these lumbering giants), scientists at the University of Oxford have revealed enough differences between the Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus to give the Thunder Lizard (Brontosaurus in Greek) his name back. (read the full story at

1 — SpaceX goes SpaceX-treme — One of the biggest barriers to exploring our lovely little solar system is the high cost of one-time use first-stage rockets that, when their fuel is expended, unceremoniously fall to watery graves. Enter Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which almost just successfully landed the first stage of its Dragon 9 spacecraft on an autonomous barge on only the second try! In fact, they actually landed the sucker pretty well, but it tipped over at the last second due to too much lateral velocity. (read the full story at


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Beautiful art through Biology for the Popular Culture.

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