This week in science

Artemis SLS on the launchpad and more: Understand the world through 7 images

NASA/Joel Kowsky

NASA

NASA’s Artemis I rocket at long last reached the launchpad the week of August 10–17, while researchers probed the origins of human speech and found new hope for cornea transplants.

Here are the biggest science stories of the week, told in 7 incredible images.

adapted from O'Connor et al 2018

7. A fair trade

KyotoU/Hideki Sugiura

August 11

Researchers determined human speech is possible due to the larynx losing certain ribbon-like vocal membranes still found in other primates. In exchange, we lost the ability to be quite as loud. Previous studies have focused mostly on changes in the brain to understand how speech evolved.

KyotoU/Hideki Sugiura

6. Engineering vision

Thor Balkhed/Linköping University

August 11

Researchers created a bioengineered transplantable cornea from pig collagen protein. In a study, the implant restored vision to 20 people who were blind or visually impaired due to cornea damage. The scarcity of donated corneas is currently a major hurdle to such transplants.

Thor Balkhed/Linköping University

5. Cold blooded

© J. Sparks, D. Gruber

August 16

Researchers found the tiny snailfish Liparis gibbus has the highest expression of antifreeze proteins — used to keep some animals’ blood from freezing — ever observed. Liparis gibbus is also the only biofluorescent polar fish ever found. Ice-dwelling fish are at high risk from increased competition as climate change drives more fish to polar regions.

© J. Sparks, D. Gruber

4. First taste

Zhixin Han and Yifan Wang

August 16

Scientists discovered the earliest known animal to eat fruit — the raven-sized Jeholornis, which is also the second known bird to emerge in the Cretaceous. Fruit-eating animals like Jeholornis likely helped spread plants across the prehistoric globe.

Zhixin Han and Yifan Wang

3. Where fear comes from

Salk Institute

August 16

Scientists discovered the origin of fear — or at least, the molecular pathway that tells the brain to be afraid. The molecule CGRP lets neurons in the thalamus and brainstem combine their signals to warn the amygdala of danger. Researchers say the finding could guide treatments for PTSD and hypersensitivity disorders.

Salk Institute

2. Sight and sound

Ridgway et al., 2022, PLOS ONE, CC-BY 4.0

August 17

Dolphins equipped with video cameras were observed catching and eating fish in the San Diego Bay. It’s the first time audio and video of dolphins hunting have been captured together, showing how dolphins combine movement and sound to locate and catch prey.

Ridgway et al., 2022, PLOS ONE, CC-BY 4.0

1. Here at last

NASA/Joel Kowsky

August 17

NASA’s SLS rocket arrived at the Kennedy Space Center launchpad in preparation for its Artemis I launch. The launch has been delayed multiple times, but NASA is now targeting August 29 for the historic mission.

NASA/Joel Kowsky