Mud at the bottom of a Mexican lake holds secrets about the Maya empire's demise – Using the mineral gypsum, found at the bottom of a lake in Mexico, researchers showed that rainfall to the area dropped by nearly half during the collapse of the Maya, and upwards of 70 percent in the driest years, according to a new paper published on Thursday in Science.

Source: Quantification of drought during the collapse of the classic Maya civilization. Science, 2018.

Solved: The Spaghetti Physics Problem That Stumped Richard Feynman – The secret has a bit of a twist.

Source: Ronald H. Heisser, Vishal P. Patil, Norbert Stoop, Emmanuel Villermaux, Jörn Dunkel. Controlling fracture cascades through twisting and quenching. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2018.

Children may be especially vulnerable to peer pressure from robots – Elementary school children often endorsed unanimous but inaccurate judgments made by small groups of robots.

Source: Anna-Lisa Vollmer, Robin Read, Dries Trippas, Tony Belpaeme. Children conform, adults resist: A robot group induced peer pressure on normative social conformity. Science Robotics, 2018.

99-million-year-old beetle trapped in amber served as pollinator to evergreen cycads – Flowering plants are well known for their special relationship to the insects and other animals that serve as their pollinators. But, before the rise of angiosperms, another group of unusual evergreen gymnosperms, known as cycads, may have been the first insect-pollinated plants. Now, researchers have uncovered the earliest definitive fossil evidence of that intimate relationship between cycads and insects.

Source: Chenyang Cai, et al. Beetle Pollination of Cycads in the Mesozoic. Current Biology, 2018.

Entire Bread Wheat Genome Fully Annotated – It took an international group of researchers 13 years to crack the code and their efforts are already bearing fruit—one study has pinned down the genes responsible for wheat allergies and sensitivity.

Source: Shifting the limits in wheat research and breeding using a fully annotated reference genome. Science, 2018.

This gene prevents elephants from getting cancer and scientists are taking note – Elephants have one of the lowest rates of cancer in any mammal. Now, a new study from the University of Chicago reveals the elephant’s genetic secret and it’s inspiring new anti-cancer strategies in humans.

Source: Juan Manuel Vazquez, Michael Sulak, Sravanthi Chigurupati, Vincent J. Lynch. A Zombie LIF Gene in Elephants Is Upregulated by TP53 to Induce Apoptosis in Response to DNA Damage. Cell Reports, 2018.

Epidemiologists Link DDT From The 1970s To Modern Autism Diagnoses – DDT was banned by a politician in the US in 1972 and was banned a few years later in Finland, so how can it be causing autism now?The answer is statistics.

Source: Association of Maternal Insecticide Levels With Autism in Offspring From a National Birth Cohort. American Journal of Psychiatry, .

Workers of the World! There Is Efficiency in Idleness – In ant colonies, just a fraction of workers do most of the construction while the others stand around watching. It's the most efficient way.

Source: Collective clog control: Optimizing traffic flow in confined biological and robophysical excavation. Science, 2018.

Fractured Water – Within the hidden pores of ancient rock, Clandestine remnants of our past lie trapped And whisper of the future they unlock. As these seductive murmurs leave us rapt, We penetrate the soil w…

Source: Andrew J. Kondash, Nancy E. Lauer, Avner Vengosh. The intensification of the water footprint of hydraulic fracturing. Science Advances, 2018.

Archaeologists Find 3,200-Year-Old Cheese in an Egyptian Tomb – The cheese was found in a tomb that had been thought lost to shifting sands until it was rediscovered in 2010.

Source: Enrico Greco, et al. Proteomic Analyses on an Ancient Egyptian Cheese and Biomolecular Evidence of Brucellosis. Analytical Chemistry, 2018.

World is finally waking up to climate change, says 'hothouse Earth' author – Report predicting spiralling global temperatures has been downloaded 270,000 times in just a few days

Source: Will Steffen, et al. Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2018.