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20 Oct

There's A Puppy-Sized Spider In The Rainforest

Next time you're trekking through the rainforest in Guyana, look out for a spider the size of a small dog.

Entomologist Piotr Naskrecki spotted the massive South American Goliath birdeater (Theraphosa blondi) on a nighttime walk through the rainforest. As he writes on his blog,

"Although far from being the largest member of the subphylum Chelicerata – this honor belongs to horseshoe crabs – Goliath birdeaters are ridiculously huge for a land arthropod. Their leg span approaches 30 cm (nearly a foot) and they weigh up to 170 g – about as much as a young puppy."

When Naskrecki approached the creature, as detailed in his blog post titled 'The sound of little hooves in the night,' the spider "would start rubbing its hind legs against the hairy abdomen" and made a hissing noise.

See photos of the puppy-sized spider on The Smaller Majority.

Learn about more alarming arachnids on Science Channel:

Trapdoor Spider

Ogre-Faced Spider

Tent Spider Colony

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17 Oct

Friday Fun: Skipping Stones on Frozen Lake Makes Awesome Sound

Skipping stones is a learned skill but once you've mastered the art of the skip, what happens when you try to skip a stone across a frozen body of water?

Cory Williams tried it and said of stones skipping across a frozen lake in Alaska, "This is the coolest sound I've ever heard!"

Karl Pilkington visited Alaska for 'An Idiot Abroad.' For more Friday fun, take a look at some of his adventures:
Whale Pops

What's A Honey Bucket?

Go For A Walk

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16 Oct

Earth Just Had the Hottest September On Record

This was the warmest September since record-keeping began 134 years ago, new NASA data reveals, marking "September [2014] as the 355th month in a row that was hotter than the 20th-century average," according to DNews.

Furthermore, Slate notes, "the last six months were collectively the warmest middle half of the year in NASA’s records -- dating back to 1880."

El Niño, a period of unusually warm sea surface temperatures, is still to come this year.

What Are El Niño and La Niña?

Global Warming, Shrinking Glaciers and CO2 Emissions

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14 Oct

Sun Looks Like A Jack-O'-Lantern In New NASA Photo

Just in time for Halloween, a new photo from NASA reveals a spooky sight in the sky: a jack-o'-lantern face on the sun.

NASA explains:

"The active regions appear brighter because those are areas that emit more light and energy — markers of an intense and complex set of magnetic fields hovering in the sun’s atmosphere, the corona."


Tonight on 'The Unexplained Files,' learn about an unexplained solar phenomenon spotted in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Some say it's a religious miracle, others believe it has a supernatural element. What do you think?

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13 Oct

Here's What Last Week's Lunar Eclipse Looked Like From Mercury (VIDEO)

The October 8 total lunar eclipse and "blood moon" were stunning from Earth but if you're curious what the event looked like from space, wonder no more.

Composed of 31 images taken two minutes apart between 5:18 a.m. to 6:18 a.m. by NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft, this animation shows the view from Mercury as the moon slowly faded from view.

"From Mercury, the Earth and Moon normally appear as if they were two very bright stars," planetary scientist Hari Nair said. "During a lunar eclipse, the Moon seems to disappear during its passage through the Earth's shadow, as shown in the movie."

Learn more about Mercury, the smallest planet in our solar system:

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10 Oct

Can You Get Ebola From a Dog?

As Ebola makes global headlines, the story of Excalibur the dog has touched many. After his owner fell ill with the virus, Spanish authorities ordered the pooch euthanized. Despite a petition signed by more than 400,000 people and efforts by the patient's husband to save the pup, this week Excalibur was put down by health officials.

But our friends at DNews had to find out, "Can you get Ebola from a dog?" Here's what they know:

How Did Ebola Evolve to Affect Humans?

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8 Oct

Your Love Of Coffee May Be Genetic, Study Suggests

The next time someone comments on the copious amounts of coffee you consume daily, go ahead and blame your parents.

A new study from the Harvard School of Public Health suggests a link between coffee drinking and genes.

"Coffee and caffeine have been linked to beneficial and adverse health effects," the study's lead author Marilyn Cornelis said in a statement. "Our findings may allow us to identify subgroups of people most likely to benefit from increasing or decreasing coffee consumption for optimal health."

Cornelis told CNN that "we have known for a long time that there are some genetic components for our coffee-consuming behaviors," and this study of more than 120,000 participants found specific genetic variants that help explain why caffeine affects different people in different ways.

The newly-discovered genes "explain about 1.3 percent of coffee-drinking behavior," NBC News notes.

What are the odds the coffee you are drinking has the same water molecules as Abraham Lincoln's?

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6 Oct

Mark Your Calendar: October 8 Is A Big Night For The Night Sky

Be prepared to see a beautiful, blood-red moon light up the night sky on October 8 as the second total lunar eclipse of 2014 occurs.

An even rarer event could also take place: a selenelion. As our friends at DNews explain:

"On Oct. 8, Interested skywatchers should attempt to see the total eclipse of the moon and the rising sun simultaneously. The little-used name for this effect is called a "selenelion," a phenomenon that celestial geometry says cannot happen.

And indeed, during a lunar eclipse, the sun and moon are exactly 180 degrees apart in the sky. In a perfect alignment like this (called a "syzygy"), such an observation would seem impossible. But thanks to Earth's atmosphere, the images of both the sun and moon are apparently lifted above the horizon by atmospheric refraction. This allows people on Earth to see the sun for several extra minutes before it actually has risen and the moon for several extra minutes after it has actually set."

The eclipse will begin at 6:25 a.m. ET and and last until 7:24 a.m. ET, according to NASA.

The October 8 event is the second eclipse of four in a lunar eclipse tetrad; there are eight sets of tetrads in the 21st century, eclipse expert Fred Espenak said.

Commercial Spacecraft Prepare to Mine the Moon

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2 Oct

Throwback Thursday: Spooky October Edition

Throughout history, strange experiments have been carried out in the name of science. As the Halloween season kicks into full swing, here's one of the oddest:

In 1970, neurosurgeon Robert J. White successfully transplanted the head of one rhesus monkey onto the body of another.

White, who died in 2000, didn't see this merely as a head transplant; according to Vice, he viewed the operation as a "full body transplant."

Here's a look back at the creepy operation:

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1 Oct

Man Sets World Record for Deepest Scuba Dive Ever

It's a new world record! Egyptian scuba diver Ahmed Gabr plunged more than 1,000 feet into the Red Sea off the coast of Dahab, Egypt, a feat verified by Guinness World Records.

The previous record of 1,044 feet was shattered by Gabr, whose official dive depth was measured at 1,090 feet, 4.5 inches.

It took Gabr about 12 minutes to reach record depth but an incredible 14 hours to decompress and resurface; during his journey back to the surface, Gabr even had time to make a friend, he told NBC News: "A baby [white tip oceanic] shark hung out with me for six hours."

Perhaps Gabr should consider a second career as a scuba-diving pizza delivery man?

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