Science News Archives

Every week in his Just One Thing Newsletter, Rick Hanson shares a fascinating piece of science news – from the latest neuroscience study, to awe-inspiring photos from space, to the latest updates in climate change.

Below you will find the archive of past Science News articles, with the most recent at the top. To sign up for the Just One Thing Newsletter, please click here.

Scientists measure earthshine – the faint glow on the darkened portion of a crescent moon – to learn that Earth is dimming, caused by fewer bright clouds, due to warming temperatures.

Using advanced climate and agricultural models, scientists have found that climate change will impact crop yields as early as 2030.

A recently discovered set of fossil footprints in New Mexico suggests humans crossed the Bering Strait into North America 6.5 thousand years earlier than previously thought – at the peak of the last ice age.

Stars or satellites? With thousands of satellites currently occupying our skies (and 10s of thousands set to be launched in the near future), it can be hard to tell what’s what in the night sky. This paper explores the effects of satellite megaconstellations on our night sky, and this tool helps you predict the number of visible satellites.

Can we replicate dinosaurs from their DNA? A paleontologist explains the ABCs of DNA and why dino-DNA makes recreating the mammoth species a challenge.

The ability to harness fusion – the energy source of the sun – would be a game-changer in our quest for clean energy. A recent experiment triggered nuclear fusion ignition in a lab for the first time. It could lead the way to clean energy and insights into the Big Bang.

To understand how the brain works, neuroscientists map how each of the roughly 1,000 types of cells thought to exist in the brain speak to each other in their different electrical dialects.

A classic Physics class experiment looks at how fast objects fall to the earth due to gravity. This animation looks at how fast a ball would drop on other bodies in our solar system, including the sun.

Is there an end? That question has perplexed astronomers for many generations. This article takes us on a journey through the far reaches of the universe to explore possible answers to what lies at the edge.

Following the devastating impact of hurricane Ida, meteorologists and atmospheric scientists offer some insight into what climate change has to do with these powerful storms.

Galactic cannibalism is a common feature of our universe, where galaxies get caught in a gravitational struggle for survival. Check out this image of interacting galaxies in the constellation Eridanus.

Dr. J. Stacey Klutts of Pathology and Lab Medicine at Veterans Affairs gives the science behind why the Delta variant of COVID is so dangerous and why vaccines are so important to counteract it.

Neurograins  tiny chips implanted in the brain  are being researched to record and stimulate brain activity that could lead to new insights into how the brain works and new therapies for people with brain or spinal injuries.

Research in the 1990s led to our current understanding that dinosaurs were wiped out by the impact of a huge asteroid some 66 million years ago. This latest study shows some species were in steep decline 10 million years before the asteroid hit.

Humans have a “wet bulb” limit of 35°C, the point when our physiological cooling system can’t cope with humid heat. This study suggests that extreme humid heat events have more than doubled in frequency since 1979 – and, like the sea level, will continue to rise.

Research shows increasing evidence that climate driven indicators, such as heat and humidity, sea level rise, crop yield, and economic damage, will profoundly change agriculture and habitable zones in the USA over the next 50 years.

Because of Earth’s elliptical orbit, our distance from the sun varies. The three percent difference in size (barely noticeable!) is documented in this photo comparing the perihelion to aphelion.

While science debates about our status in the sixth mass extinction event, it’s interesting to learn the causes of the first five, when more than 75% of the earth’s species disappeared.

As airline travel resumes for many, it’s worth considering studies done on the microbiome of airplane cabins. This study showed there is no more risk from time spent in an airplane cabin than the same time spent in any other built environment, such as an office.

Artists and scientists share a curiosity for the unknown, an appreciation for beauty, and an interest in creating something new. Watch UCLA researchers discuss the sometimes unexpected intersections between the two pursuits.

Thirty years ago, a small group of American scientists, activists and politicians worked to raise the alarm and stave off the threatening catastrophes of climate change. Here’s their story – and how it’s turned out.

Anthropologists uncovered the nearly intact braincase of a dinosaur who roamed the southern hemisphere 66-100 million years ago.

According to the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), light pollution is increasing at a rate two times that of population growth, and 83% of the global population lives under a light-polluted sky. Artificial Light at Night (ALAN) offers a database that lists scientific papers on all aspects of artificial light at night research.

On the face of it, we don’t have much in common with fish – for one thing, we have facial expressions and they don’t. In fact, fish may have more in common with humans than we might like to admit.

new study suggests that the Gulf Stream – the Atlantic Ocean current that plays a large role in shaping Earth’s weather patterns – is weaker now than it’s been at any time in the last 1,000 years.

Most people don’t have memories before the age of three, what science has deemed “infantile amnesia.” Research at Yale suggests that the brain of infants do in fact record memories. Even if we can’t remember them later in life, they allow us to learn new things.

Studies on compassion from Professor Paul Gilbert and others have addressed the effects of caring (broadly) on a personal level (psychotherapy) and at the social level. These findings suggest that a more compassionate society would benefit our physical and mental health, social justice, productivity, and pro-social behavior.

Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic people (dubbed “WEIRDos”) misrepresent our fundamental understanding of what it means to be human, a recent study has found.

Timelapse images from Google Earth taken over the past 40 years provides visual evidence of the daunting impact of climate change, as well as the growth of human civilization, on the natural environment.

Anti-racism protests in America in the past several years have been overwhelmingly peaceful. Researchers collected data from over 7,000 protests and found that that 96.3% of them involved no damage to property or injuries to people.

Despite the anthropause that swept the planet during COVID lockdowns in 2020, levels of climate-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane in the atmosphere continued to rise, with CO2 levels reaching their highest point in 3.6 million years.

Did a lightning bolt start life on our planet? Recent research suggests that lightning strikes, a quintillion over a billion years, could have unlocked the phosphorus necessary for the creation of biomolecules that were the basis of life on Earth.

While we mourn the loss of many earthly creatures through extinction, it’s good to welcome new ones, recently discovered by science. The World Register for Marine Species (WoRMS) just released ten remarkable new marine species from 2020.

In a recent study, scientists concluded that a seemingly small half-a-degree temperature rise can make a big difference for wildfires, their frequency and intensity. The report made it clear that the goal of controlling the rise in climate should be aimed at 1.5°C rather than the 2° proposed by the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Like the Baboushka nesting dolls, rockets destined for Mars continuously shed their layers until the smallest rover emerges to start its exploratory mission. This animation shows how it works.

“Data sonification” is the technical turn for making music from astronomical images  and it’s pretty cool! Check out NASA’s soundscape from the center of our Milky Way, as observed in X-ray, optical, and infrared light.

To mask or not to mask? Strong scientific evidence shows that wearing masks reduces the transmission of Covid-19 in both laboratory and real-world settings. This study explains how.

NASA’s recent touchdown of the Perseverance Rover on Mars is an awesome testament to human ingenuity and technology. Watch the high definition video of the landing here.

This video graph shows how much global ice has been lost over the last quarter of a century 28 trillion metric tons of ice was lost between 1994 and 2017, equivalent to a sheet of ice 330 feet thick covering the whole of the U.K.

Human generated noise often drowns out the natural soundscapes in underwater environments, putting marine life under immense stress. This study encourages refining policies that regulate technological solutions to mitigate marine noise, thereby improving human stewardship of ocean soundscapes to maintain a healthy ocean.

Monarch butterflies are among the most beautiful, delicate and threatened of species. A recent study showed a 99.9% decrease, with only 2000 left, along the California coast. But there is something you can do.

Microplastics, ubiquitous in ocean waters around the world, were recently studied in Arctic seawater between Canada and Norway: 92% were found to be fibers from clothing, the majority polyester.

A new study has found that human population, already falling in parts of Asia and Europe, is set to peak in 2064. The effects are already apparent, including “ghost villages” where wildlife is starting to return and forests to regrow.

2020 tied with 2016 as Earth’s hottest year  in millions of years. Our planet’s average temperature has risen more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1880s. Unless we take major steps immediately, in just 30 years from now, American cities such as St. Paul or Chicago, will likely have average summer temperatures 6 degrees hotter than they were in 2000. (Here you can see how the place where you live will likely fare.) This video shows our warming world in vivid color.

study from the University of Pennsylvania shows how young people are more likely to engage with news and politics if they’re delivered with a sense of humor, increasing their democratic right to stay informed.

Researchers working on the biological basis of human consciousness have discovered the neural mechanisms underlying consciousness and its disconnection from behavioral responsiveness, during anesthesia and normal sleep.

NOAA’s 15th annual Arctic Report Card catalogs the many ways climate change has continued to disrupt the polar region this year, including the 2nd-highest air temperatures and 2nd-lowest summer sea ice, the loss of snow and extraordinary wildfires in northern Russia.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has new guidance clarifying what “close contact” means when it comes to transmitting the Covid-19 virus. An epidemiologist explains.

Researchers predict that more epidemics resulting from animal hosts are inevitable unless urgent action is taken, including effective legislation addressing wildlife trade, protection of habitats, and reduction of interaction between people, wildlife and livestock.

Since the first genome sequence of Sars-CoV-2 was released in January, a further 100,000 coronavirus genomes sampled from Covid-19 patients in over 100 countries have been added. Here’s what science has learned so far about these mutations.

Darkness is important for our overall health, including sleepour biologyour ecosystemsour creativity, and our souls and spirits. Paul Bogard has researched the importance of darkness in his book The End of Night, and this video.

Using the power of computers, scientists have re-created the building blocks of life on earth, from early pre-biotics to the complex biomolecules that gave rise to the planet’s teeming life today.

Scientists are hoping for a resurgence of support in their efforts to research critical issues and inform people with their evidence-based outcomes following the recent American election.

In this video, NASA astronauts leaving earth to reside on the International Space Station describe the radical, multi-dimensional shifts in perspective they experience, including a sense of complete oneness.

An activity close to my heart: climbing! Research now shows that the vertical sport holds therapeutic promise by strengthening in-the-moment mindfulness, alleviating depression, and building resilience and self-esteem.

As social distancing becomes the order of the day, researchers are studying how social isolation in extreme environments, such as the Antarctic, changes the structure of the brain, and can result in disorientation and post traumatic stress disorders.

Research on birds show their sensitivity to noise. While birdsong tends to get louder in noisy environment, during the pandemic global shutdown, when the world suddenly went quiet, the volume of birdsongs also decreased, with bandwidths typical of birds recorded in the 1970s.

Understanding the origins of life on our planet is an ongoing debate among scientists; it could also assist the search for life on other planets. Current research has consistently uncovered evidence of early life in hot and inhospitable places.

Need a larger view when things on planet Earth seem increasingly tense? Get a big picture view with NASA’s Live Space Station Tracking Map, or listen to one of their Curious Universe podcasts to reinspire a sense of awe and wonder for the world.

Recent studies depict alarming signs that current global ice melt is matching previously determined worst case scenarios. Many glaciers in Antarctica are tearing loose and in danger of quick destruction.

Studies of forams, fossilized tiny undersea amoebas that hold climate records for hundreds of millions of years, reveal that the current pace of anthropogenic global warming far exceeds the natural climate fluctuations seen at any other point in the past 66-million years.

The expertise of scientists, whose research relies on a standardized methodology and consensus, helps guide the path towards truth and away from mere opinions, speculation, and theorizing. This article explores why it’s important to listen to science, particularly on the critical issues of our time.

Forty years of climate research has resulted in a better understanding of “climate sensitivity” in making more accurate predictions. Current research shows an increase in warming of between 2.6°C and 3.9°C.

While the coronavirus may last for weeks in the system, lingering symptoms can extend up to months, or even years. Medical experts continue to study long-term conditions that result from COVID-19.

Getting the coronavirus under control is a necessary condition for safely sending children to schools and opening up many businesses. In public health, the three keys to that control are testing, tracing, and isolation-plus-treatment. From Mongolia to the European Union, the countries that have followed this strategy have reduced deaths-per-capita to a tiny fraction of what is happening in America, and they are now reopening their economies.

This comprehensive, first-ever model of climate refugees looks into what the future might hold for global migration as the climate crisis intensifies.

The drop in human-caused seismic noise from March to May 2020 is unprecedented, according to a London research group, who said it is the longest and most pronounced quiet period of seismic noise in recorded history.

A Recent study suggests the genetic make-up of the COVID19 virus has mutated across the world, a possible explanation for the second wave we’re now experiencing. The mutation suggests the virus may be more contagious, but won’t necessarily make people sicker.

The world population growth has fallen since the 1960s and while this may be good news for some, this article explains the potential problems, socially and economically, this could cause  including the disparity between youth and the over-80s  by the year 2100.

Other than its size, the human brain has a few idiosyncracies that set it apart from other mammals, including “connectomes,” the unique pattern of connectivity that helps the brain process information.

Prehistoric humans built sacred spaces on the land, including Neolithic henges. Archeologists have recently discovered a massive ring of trenches near Stonehenge that may have guided people toward religious sites in the area.

From pestilence to plagues to pandemics, the history of global outbreaks spans over 2 millennia of recorded history, offering insights into the similarities and uniqueness of our current epidemic.

This summary article refers to a study documenting how, 40 and 30 million years ago, rodents and monkeys migrated from Africa to South America, lived, evolved and spread. I like to imagine the consciousness of these ancient animals, their experiences as they left one home in Africa, clung to another one in the Atlantic Ocean, and found a new home in the Americas.

An epidemiologist study has determined that national shut-downs in the USA prevented over 60 million infections, due to the coronavirus, and over 295 million in China.

This article provides important data on the genome of viruses like COVID-19, how it changes over time, and how such information needs to inform our public response to the pandemic.

While our focus during the pandemic is on saving lives, it’s important to remember the devastating impact the virus has on the organs of survivors, from brains to blood vessels.

This article looks at zoonotic diseases, infectious diseases such as SARS-CoV-2 that are naturally transmitted between animals and humans, and how we can prevent them.

This cool clip gives us a view into what a fly-by of Earth might look like if we were fast-moving aliens. The short shows a nearly 10-hour  time lapse of photos taken by ESA’s BepiColombo spacecraft.

The graphs on this website show which countries are doing best at beating Covid-19 and what actions must be taken to turn a critical situation into a winning one. One virologist who narrowly escaped death from the virus reflects on his experience, and the troubling after-effects, including organ dysfunction.

The National Academy of Science presented a panel of experts to provide an update on the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s technical but a fascinating overview from outstanding people. The section starting at 55:00 is compelling as is the summary in the last ten minutes.

A team of Australian and U.S. scientists drill in Antarctica to discover atoms that could reveal how well the chemistry of the atmosphere has been removing problem greenhouse gases like methane.

The climate crisis may be taking a back seat in the news these days, but it has relevance to the health crisis we’re currently experiencing. To update, March was the 2nd hottest month on planet Earth in 141 years of climate records.

When we talk, cough, or even just breathe, how far can tiny droplets spread – which might contain viruses that can infect other people? This three-dimensional simulation from researchers in Kyoto, Japan is fascinating and informative.

With the “infodemic” of news related to COVID-19, it’s important to evaluate information carefully, with a measured sense of skepticism and evaluation that can help you avoid taking in sensationalized information.

The European Space Agency has posted some compelling maps, tracking pollution levels around the world before and after the current pandemic.

We don’t yet have a vaccine for COVID-19, yet something as simple as common soap works well to break down the virus. This article explains the science behind why we should keep washing our hands.

Some of the worst viral disease outbreaks in recent years  SARS, MERS, Ebola, Marburg and now COVID-19 – originated in bats. This study shows how bats’ fierce immune systems drive viruses to higher virulence, making them deadlier in humans.

recent archeological discovery in an Iraqi cave unearthed the bones of ten Neanderthal men, women, and children surrounded by ancient pollen, suggesting the intriguing “flower burial” rights of our hominid cousins.

Long-term meditators have been routinely studied for their ability to manage emotions, depression, and chronic pain. A new study reveals that those with only a brief introduction to mindfulness can achieve similar results.

Ice cores from melting glaciers are preserving history, including global impact of the Industrial Revolution, as found in this study of the Dasuopu glacier in the Himalayas, the highest-altitude site in the world where scientists have obtained a climate record from an ice core.

A team of scientists have repurposed living tissue from frogs to create AI, tiny bots that could be used to search for radioactive contamination, clean up the oceans, and help doctors manage disease.

A thousand years ago, astronomers recorded seeing an extremely bright star lasting for two years, what modern day science now knows was a supernova explosion. Here’s what the remnants of that star look like today.

Like many areas in science, the pace of change in archeology has grown dramatically in the last two decades. Recent fossil discoveries now show that hominins existed 5-7 million years ago and homo sapiens 300,000 years ago.

The United States’ leading role in global research and development of science and technology is slipping, as the data in this article explains.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is often viewed through the lens of medical science. Here’s a moving memoir of a journalist who experienced it first hand.

Nature photographs inspire us to the beauty and wonder of nature, all the more important as we face global extinction of many critical species. Check out the winners of the 2019 National Wildlife’s Photo Contest.

The European Space Agency has been investigating how human hibernation might impact space travelmaking long-duration exploration missions more feasible.

Get acquainted with the future! Scientific American teamed up with the World Economic Forum to examine the Top Ten Emerging Technologies of 2019 that will be sure to change our lives significantly in the coming years.

When Earth gets hit by a solar storm it creates an eerie symphony of sound, the result of waves that are generated in the Earth’s magnetic field. A team of scientists used 18 years of data from ESA’s Cluster mission to produce the first recording of this Earth song.

fascinating study sheds light on the unusual nature of the world’s oldest river: the Nile hasn’t changed course in its 30 million year lifetime.

I’ve put together a long list of key scientific papers which are worth exploring. Visit to learn more!

Read the World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency, a document signed by 11,000 scientists who regard it as their moral obligation to warn humanity of the catastrophic threats to planet Earth.

Astronomers recently found 20 new moons circling Saturn, all with a diameter of around 5 kms. With 82 known moons, the ringed planet surpasses Jupiter (with 79 moons) as the new Moon King.

Mindfulness training can enhance a person’s capacity to “unlearn fear”  to become less anxious about things you’ve been anxious about  in part through structural and functional changes involving the hippocampus.

Ancient reptilian hand muscles, thought to have disappeared from our human ancestors for 250 million years, were recently discovered in the first formations of a human embryo, which then get deleted before birth.

Climate change that caused a prolong drought in Europe has resurfaced a 7,000-year-old “Stonehenge” that disappeared 50 years ago with the damming of the Tagus River in Spain.

The awesome power of ocean waves is magnified in this short film by Chris Bryon, using state-of-the art camera work, and an artist’s eye for beauty.

It looks like some kind of weird white chocolate, but the European Space Agency took this composite photo of defrosting sand dunes on the Martian North Pole, shaped by the frosty Martian winds.

Archeologists have studied the impacts of human habitation on the earth and concluded that significant changes to the environment started nearly 10,000 years ago. This map shows how intensive agriculture developed in that time.​

There are so many reasons to take action now for our world, including recent headlines that the Amazon Rainforest could self-destruct, the climate crisis is making people sicker, and that more than half of Greenland’s ice sheet’s surface started melting for the first time since 2012.

The Skyglow Project just put out an awesome new video, using the backdrop of a changing sky to tour North America’s indigenous petroglyphs and ruins.

This video shows how our knowledge of known exoplanets has grown exponentially in the last 30 years, from 2 in 1992 to 4,003 today!

Can plants think? One neuroscientist hooked up a Venus Flytrap to an EKG to show how plants can use electrical signals to process information, stimulate movement, and even compute time. Our kinship with all living things seems clearer than ever.

Cannonballs of the cosmos? This pulsar is spinning 8.7 times per second and hurtling through space at 2.5 million miles an hour. Astronomers say it’s traveling 5x faster than other pulsars and will eventually get propelled out of our galaxy.

A vast void in our cosmic neighborhood. Astronomers have discovered that our local Milky Way galaxy lies in the boundary between the Virgo cluster and a vast void of emptiness. A new study investigates how this Local Void influences the movement of our galaxy.

For a hundred years, humans have been broadcasting radio waves into the cosmos and the bubble of reach has expanded to 200 light years distance today. But how big is that really? This image provides some insight.

A team of scientists examined 4 million years of our ancestry for clues to why our modern human faces evolved to look as they do today. Diet and climate were two major influences – and both may continue to reshape our appearance as earth’s climate warms.

Where were you 50 years ago when earthlings first stepped onto their moon? Last week was the half century milestone for this amazing event and it’s worth watching this video to reflect on how precarious the landing actually was.

Despite whatever woes currently avail us, the facts do show that humanity has made significant progress. This amazing video graph shows changes over the past 150 years in reducing child mortality worldwide.

This stunning image of Saturn 58,232 km  (36,184 miles) away and 945% the size of Earth shows a view of the gas giant not seen from our planet, with its eerie shadow slicing through its spectacular rings.

Science rests on the view that objective facts exist. But in a recent experiment with entangled photons, researchers have concluded that two people can observe existing but contradictory facts at the quantum level. Yikes! Of course, at the level of atoms and molecules, let alone mice and moons, reality seems more reassuringly knowable.

Ever seen two galaxies dancing? Check out this cool image of two mighty galaxies currently pulling each other apart after passing through each other.

In their matriarchal society, bonobo moms help their sons meet and mate with eligible females to ensure their male offspring don’t get overlooked in the intensely competitive social order. Their success rate is three times higher due to this maternal support.

Researchers have determined that trauma in childhood (including poverty and stressful events) accelerates puberty and brain maturation, with potentially greater mental health disorders into adulthood.

Some in the animal kingdom prove that art is greater than smart! This puffer fish, though dull in appearance, creates beautiful mandalas to attract his mate.

The vastness of the universe is incomprehensible to the human mind, yet that doesn’t stop astronomers from trying. This video uses a grain of sand as a measurement unit for imagining the relative size of our cosmos.

Why do days – and years – seem shorter as we get older? Research suggests this phenomenon occurs in aging human brains, which process information at a slower rate. Because older brians view fewer new images in the same amount of actual time as younger ones, time seems to pass more quickly.

This very cool virtual flyby of the Whirlpool galaxy uses data and images from the Hubble Space Telescope. It helps us visualize what a galaxy very similar to ours might look like if we could fly at the speed of light!

A team at John Hopkins have come up with a new theory to help answer one of astromony’s more puzzling questions: why the universe seems to be expanding faster than it should be. Could an early form of dark energy cause the universe to speed up from time to time? And why?

When China stopped importing trash last year, much of what used to get recycled now ends up in landfills. Until the current “recycling crisis” gets resolved, there are resources to help continue your efforts to recycle and reduce waste.

The U.S. ranking at #19 in the 2019 World Happiness Report could be related to income inequality, technology and other addictions, as well as ineffective government. Another study found that countries low on the happiness scale tend to vote against incumbent leaders, and that election results can make a nation happier.

After nearly two years and hundreds of intertwining stories, the Special Counsel’s report on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections will be released this week. Here’s a guide to unravel the tangle of stories and subplots.

In 1925, Werner Heisenberg developed a new formulation for classical quantum physics. Fifty years later, Fritjof Capra expanded on Heisenberg’s Matrix Mechanics in The Tao of Physics, which helped to establish a profound shift in our understanding of the material world: “not a collection of separate objects, but rather appears as a network of relations between the various parts of a unified whole.” Thanks to Dale Medearis for this entry!

In a joint American/Dutch project, The Ocean Cleanup was launched in September 2018 to rid the ocean of plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, 1,200 nautical miles offshore. An update report from last week recounts both its successes and failures in the first months of operation.

One of the most mind-blowing theories in theoretical physics is the holographic principle, which posits that the universe is actually a hologram. If researchers can prove the theory, it may lead to a grand unified theory that explains all the laws and principles governing reality.

Researchers in Denmark are finding that “forest bathing”, immersing children in natural spaces, has a beneficial effect for lowering risk of mental health disorders as adults.

The 4th National Climate Assessment details not only how climate change will impact our future, but the damage already inflicted on the environment and the economy, including disproportionately negative effects on disadvantaged communities.

Neuroscience studies on attention in both birds and humans reveal a remarkable natural rhythm in which a central focus is highlighted alternating with a wider view. In effect, the brain zooms in and zooms out several times a second. While this has benefits (including for survival in Jurassic Park), it also makes us vulnerable to distractions when the brain zooms out – another good reason to develop mindfulness.

The continental United States is 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it was a century ago. Seas at the coasts are nine inches higher. Like a frog in a slowly heating pot, sometimes it’s hard to see the changes around us. This sobering article provides graphic evidence of how climate change is disrupting our lives.

The value of pets is well-known in helping people cope with loneliness and depression. One man has given this idea a new twist, with his “emotional support alligator.”

Many past estimates of the number of neurons in the human brain have been wildly inaccurate. The current findings are that we have about 80 billion neurons – and most of them are in the cerebellum, not the cerebral cortex. There are also another 80 billion non-neuronal “glial” cells. We keep most of these 160 billion cells over the entire lifespan: there’s hope!

You may have heard this before or something like it: “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” Have you ever wondered where it comes from? It is based on the pioneering work of the Canadian psychologist Donald Hebb in the middle of the 20th century, who explored how the brain can be changed by our experiences: the fundamental physical basis of learning, healing, and growth. Then in a research paper in 1992, Siegrid Lowel and Wolf Singer offered this summary –  “neurons wire together if they fire together” – which became the basis for this increasingly popular saying

While getting enough sleep is important for our overall health and well-being, a new study shows that getting too much sleep can increase your risk to experience a cardiovascular disease or death.

Launched in 1977, Voyager 2 recently crossed the edge of the heliosphere—11 billion miles from Earth—and will provide the first-ever observations of interstellar space, using 40-year-old technology that has less data capacity than your smart phone.

The USA has the largest rate of incarceration of any OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) country, over twice the rate of the second largest, Turkey, though the rate has steadily decreased since 2008.

Out past the orbit of Pluto, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has recently flown by Ultima Thule, a small planetoid. This object is the farthest from our planet that has been surveyed by a human device – so far away that it takes six hours for its radio signals traveling 186,000 miles a second to reach Earth.

Dr. Ramani Durvasula is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, and expert on the impact of toxic narcissism. She is a Professor of Psychology at California State University, Los Angeles, and also a Visiting Professor at the University of Johannesburg.

The focus of Dr. Ramani’s clinical, academic, and consultative work is the etiology and impact of narcissism and high-conflict, entitled, antagonistic personality styles on human relationships, mental health, and societal expectations. She has spoken on these issues to clinicians, educators, and researchers around the world.

She is the author of Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving a Relationship With a Narcissist, and Don't You Know Who I Am? How to Stay Sane in an Era of Narcissism, Entitlement, and Incivility. Her work has been featured at SxSW, TEDx, and on a wide range of media platforms including Red Table Talk, the Today Show, Oxygen, Investigation Discovery, and Bravo, and she is a featured expert on the digital media mental health platform MedCircle. Dr. Durvasula’s research on personality disorders has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and she is a Consulting Editor of the scientific journal Behavioral Medicine.

Dr. Stephen Porges is a Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, and Professor Emeritus at both the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland. He is a former president of the Society for Psychophysiological Research and has been president of the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological, and Cognitive Sciences, which represents approximately twenty-thousand biobehavioral scientists. He’s led a number of other organizations and received a wide variety of professional awards.

In 1994 he proposed the Polyvagal Theory, a theory that links the evolution of the mammalian autonomic nervous system to social behavior and emphasizes the importance of physiological states in the expression of behavioral problems and psychiatric disorders. The theory is leading to innovative treatments based on insights into the mechanisms mediating symptoms observed in several behavioral, psychiatric, and physical disorders, and has had a major impact on the field of psychology.

Dr. Porges has published more than 300 peer-reviewed papers across a wide array of disciplines. He’s also the author of several books including The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation.

Dr. Bruce Perry is the Principal of the Neurosequential Network, Senior Fellow of The ChildTrauma Academy, and a Professor (Adjunct) in the Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago and the School of Allied Health at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. From 1993 to 2001 he was the Thomas S. Trammell Research Professor of Psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine and chief of psychiatry at Texas Children's Hospital.

He’s one of the world’s leading experts on the impact of trauma in childhood, and his work on the impact of abuse, neglect, and trauma on the developing brain has impacted clinical practice, programs, and policy across the world. His work has been instrumental in describing how traumatic events in childhood change the biology of the brain.

Dr. Perry's most recent book, What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing, co-authored with Oprah Winfrey, was released earlier this year. Dr. Perry is also the author, with Maia Szalavitz, of The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog, a bestselling book based on his work with maltreated children, and Born For Love: Why Empathy is Essential and Endangered. Additionally, he’s authored more than 300 journal articles and book chapters and has been the recipient of a variety of professional awards.

Dr. Allison Briscoe-Smith is a child clinical psychologist who specializes in trauma and issues of race. She earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard and then received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. She performed postdoctoral work at the University of California San Francisco/San Francisco General Hospital. She has combined her love of teaching and advocacy by serving as a professor and by directing mental health programs for children experiencing trauma, homelessness, or foster care.

Dr. Briscoe-Smith is also a senior fellow of Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center and is both a professor and the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Wright Institute. She provides consultation and training to nonprofits and schools on how to support trauma-informed practices and cultural accountability.

Sharon Salzberg is a world-renowned teacher and New York Times bestselling author. She is widely considered one of the most influential individuals in bringing mindfulness practices to the West, and co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts alongside Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein. Sharon has been a student of Dipa Ma, Anagarika Munindra, and Sayadaw U Pandita alongside other masters.

Sharon has authored 10 books, and is the host of the fantastic Metta Hour podcast. She was a contributing editor of Oprah’s O Magazine, had her work featured in Time and on NPR, and contributed to panels alongside the Dalai Lama.

Rick Hanson, PhD is a psychologist, Senior Fellow of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, and New York Times best-selling author. His books have been published in 29 languages and include NeurodharmaResilient, Hardwiring HappinessBuddha’s BrainJust One Thing, and Mother Nurture – with 900,000 copies in English alone. His free newsletters have 215,000 subscribers and his online programs have scholarships available for those with financial need. He’s lectured at NASA, Google, Oxford, and Harvard, and taught in meditation centers worldwide. An expert on positive neuroplasticity, his work has been featured on the BBC, CBS, NPR, and other major media. He began meditating in 1974 and is the founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom. He and his wife live in northern California and have two adult children. He loves wilderness and taking a break from emails.

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