Small Wonders: January 2, 2013

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I thought I’d kick off the new year with a new installment of Small Wonders. In this edition: “olfactory white,” the end of mine-hunting dolphins, and what science owes the Twinkie.

* Crafty spiders build decoy spiders to fool predators.

* A Mars rover made of gingerbread.

* A brilliant Twitter bot mimics Tourettes–and seems strangely intelligent.

* The strange science of “olfactory white.”

* How guns became gadgets (“Guns, unlike almost every other technology, are unique in that the more they improve, the less safe they become.”)

* The NIH lab chimps retire, decamp for a sanctuary.

* Relatedly, the U.S. Navy’s mine-hunting dolphins are also set to retire.

* The story behind the greatest hoodie ever made.

* “How to print an organ on your inkjet.”

* Paging Dr. Doolittle: animal communication and language.

* We’ve left a shameful amount of trash on the Moon.

* The best charts of 2012.

Twinkies have played a starring role in many classroom science experiments.

* A chilling verdict for a French psychiatrist.

* The trouble with genopolitics.

* One health writer posts his annual round-up of “PR crap” he’s received in the past year.

* The world of toothbrush innovation: 138 (!) patents related to toothbrushes were issued this year.

* An island in Japan is overrun with cats.

* “We are all mosaics.”

 

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