The IgNobels are the booby-prizes of science, given for silly, or at least very strange, science projects. Examples: This year's Chemistry IgNobel was given for identifying the enzyme in onions that makes you cry. The Probability prize went to a study of the odds on a cow standing up as a function of how long it's been lying down. And the end of the ceremonies, the attendees were wished "better luck next time" if they didn't win a prize ... and even more luck if they did.
After a lot of dithering, NASA has finally decided that Voyager 1 has left the Solar System -- in fact, left it about a year ago. They came to this conclusion after studying the reaction of the (very thin) gas around Voyager to a recent solar flare. The reaction gave them a clearer idea of the local gas density.
Diets are doomed (Science Daily)
It's a well-known fact that, after you lose weight, it's hard to keep it off. Now they know why: being obese throws off the calibration of the nerves in the stomach that register when you're full. They don't re-calibrate when you lose weight. The next question, of course, is how to get the nerves back in adjustment.
Insect gears (New Scientist)
Biologists have found that a species of planthopper coordinates the action on its hind legs with gears. The "hip" joints of the legs are up against each other and kept in synch with gear teeth.
Cambrian explosion (Science Daily)
Half a billion years ago, lots and lots of new anatomical designs suddenly appeared among animals, according to the fossil record (on a geological scale of "suddenly"). There are a number of theories about why, but none is generally acknowledged to be the winner. But how fast is "suddenly"? A new study tries to measure the speed of evolution and comes up with only (or "only") four times the normal speed. Not that it's easy to put a number on such things, or that they have an explanation for the number.
David Attenborough, the nature documentary star, recently caused a stir by remarking that the human race is no longer evolving. He says natural selection no longer touches us because we no longer die off at huge rates in infancy. Biologists were quick to note that, in many parts of the world, we DO still die off at terrible rates. Also, Attenborough's remark brings to the fore a controversy in evolutionary theory -- whether or not evolution is mainly driven by natural selection, or by random variation.