​Is science synonymous with 'truth'? Game theory says, 'not always.'

Good science is sometimes trumped by the craving for a "big splash."

  • Scientists strive to earn credit from their peers, for grants from federal agencies, and so a lot of the decisions that they make are strategic in nature. They're encouraged to publish exciting new findings that demonstrate some new phenomenon that we have never seen before.
  • This professional pressure can affect their decision-making — to get acclaim they may actually make science worse. That is, a scientist might commit fraud if he thinks he can get away with it or a scientist might rush a result out of the door even though it hasn't been completely verified in order to beat the competition.
  • On top of the acclaim of their peers, scientists — with the increasing popularity of science journalism — are starting to be rewarded for doing things that the public is interested in. The good side of this is that the research is more likely to have a public impact, rather than be esoteric. The bad side? To make a "big splash" a scientist may push a study or article that doesn't exemplify good science.

NASA and ESA team up for historic planetary defense test

Two space agencies plan missions to deflect an asteroid.

  • NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are working together on missions to a binary asteroid system.
  • The DART and Hera missions will attempt to deflect and study the asteroid Didymoon.
  • A planetary defense system is important in preventing large-scale catastrophes.
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Behold, close-ups of the sand from around the cosmos

Think you've seen sand? You haven't seen sand.

  • Microscopic photography exposes the beauty and strangeness of sand.
  • Water wave action produces a startling variety of sand grains.
  • That stuff between your toes is a lot more interesting than you might think.
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5 of the worst keto diet side effects

The keto diet can help with weight loss, but at what cost?

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Surprising Science
  • In addition to weight loss, there are a few well-known side effects of the keto diet, some of which can be unpleasant.
  • Some side effects of the keto diet are bound to occur, though others only happen when the diet is implemented poorly.
  • The keto diet doesn't have to lead to a host of negative side effects, but anyone considering undertaking the diet over the long term should be especially careful.
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Chimp gestures and human language are underpinned by same mathematical principles

Are these two laws universal throughout nature?

Photo credit: ZOOM DOSSO / AFP / Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Zipf's law of abbreviation and Menzerath's law seem to govern not just human speech but chimpanzee gestures.
  • Fifty-eight individual chimp gestures were catalogued in a new study.
  • Their presence points to an intriguing overlap between language and genetic chemistry.
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Schizophrenia's surprising link to the gut

What's in your tummy might affect what's in your head.

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Surprising Science
  • For decades, researchers have tried in vain to answer the question: What causes schizophrenia?
  • At the same time, we've developed a growing understanding of how intimately linked the bacteria in our gut and our brains are.
  • New research shows that schizophrenics have vastly different microbiomes, potentially uncovering a cause of — and maybe a future cure to — schizophrenia.
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