05/23/2014 11:04 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

This Week In Science: A New Meteor Shower, Alien Jellies and Running Mice

Seven days; lots of science in the news. Here's our roundup of the week's most notable and quotable items:


Credit: Flickr CC/HarshLight

Earth awaited the arrival of a brand-new meteor shower, the Camelopardalids. California's record droughts turn out to have one silver lining: cleaner water at beaches. San Francisco should brace for a significant earthquake in coming decades.

A group of private citizens is going to try and wake up 36-year-old spacecraft ISEE-3 to put it back on its original mission to study solar winds. When given the choice between subtly different smells, fruit flies don't just act on impulse--they need some time to think it over. MIT is using light to restore color to sun-damaged Mark Rothko paintings.

English-speakers are Googling "climate change" less and less in recent years, but are simultaneously getting more worried about it. Certain touch-sensitive neurons in human skin may play a role in autism. The comb jelly nervous system evolved according to a unique "biological language" that differs from the rest of the animal kingdom.

Younger siblings are more likely to commit suicide than firstborns. Wild mice will run on a hamster wheel for no clear reason other than enjoyment. Lab mice live longer if they are bred to lack a particular pain receptor; to replicate this effect in humans, researchers think a prolonged diet heavy on spicy food may suffice.

Researchers plugged a protein found in rats' noses can be used as an electrically activated switch, paving the way for future "proteotronics" (and reverse cyborgs). Mustard plants may prove useful in detecting chemical weapons.


"This Week In Science" is presented by the World Science Festival, which runs from May 28 to June 1 in venues across New York City. For tickets and more information, check out the festival website.