These Are National Geographic’s Favorite Photographs From 2015

Editor's Blog


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Caught on camera: A molten firework display at the Lantern Festival in Hebei Province, China. Yang Shiyao, Xinhua/eyevine/Redux/

National Geographic has released an album of its favourite Daily Travel Photographs of 2015. Assessed both on their creativity and their content, the images capture all the natural wonder and cultural intrigue that comes with globetrotting. Be prepared to want to grab your passport and pack your bags.

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The Top 10 Weirdest Science Stories Of 2015

Editor's Blog


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Science can be splendidly silly sometimes. S.Pytel

2015 has been many things, from happy to melancholy, from tragic to uplifting. In the world of science, however, things have often been decidedly wacky. In honor of the stranger side of science, here are our picks for the Top 10 Weirdest Stories Of 2015.

10DARPA Are Building Vampire Drones

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Does Legal Cannabis Increase Alcohol Use? It’s Complicated

Health and Medicine


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When marijuana becomes legal, even if only for medical use, there are likely to be effects on the use of alcohol. We're just having trouble finding out what those are. Milosz_M/Shutterstock

Is legalized marijuana a gateway drug to other forms of substance abuse? Or would safer access encourage people to ease back on other vices? This has been one of the major questions bedeviling the legalization debate. Now that four American states have legalized recreational use of cannabis, we ought to be getting some answers. Sadly, a review of the studies done so far suggests the picture isn’t getting much clearer.

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Humongous Sea Spiders From Antarctica Baffle Scientists

Plants and Animals

Scientists don't really know why giant sea spiders exist


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Scientists don't really know why giant sea spiders exist. YouTube/PycnoWatchThis

If you’re reading this, you probably aren’t a spider, and may even have a strong aversion towards eight-legged, web-weaving creepy crawlies – especially giant ones. However, we regret to inform you that spiders of epic proportions are more than just the stuff of fiction, and do indeed walk among us. Even more alarming is that scientists are unable to explain why they are growing to such an enormous size.

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NASA Releases Most Detailed Map Of The Oceans Yet

Environment


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NASA's ocean floor map. Red areas are mountain and ridges, blue areas are canyon and trenches, by NASA Earth Observatory/Joshua Stevens

The bottom of the ocean is a mysterious place. We probably know the surface of Mars better than areas in the Atlantic and the Pacific. But we now have our best look at the seafloor yet, thanks to the NASA Earth Observatory.

The researchers looked at gravitational anomalies to produce a detailed analysis of underwater features, and by doing this were able to spot anything larger than 5 kilometers (3 miles).

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Ecosystems Recover Fast After Dam Removal

Environment


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American dippers such as these are important measures of the health of river ecosystems in western North America. Ohio State University

A bird that suffers badly when dams interfere with its food supply has been found to recover rapidly when the dams are removed. The finding is being taken as evidence that it is possible for damaged ecosystems to recover when past mistakes are righted.

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New Galaxy Discovered With Backyard Telescope

Space


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When this image of NGC 253 titled "Floating Metropolis" was shortlisted for an astrophotography prize, professional astronomers contacted the author, leading to the discovery of a new galaxy. Michael Sidonio

An amateur astronomer has discovered a previously unknown galaxy using a home telescope and camera. The object has been confirmed with one of the world’s largest telescopes, and adds support to the most popular model of galaxy formation.

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Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Impacted Turtles Throughout The Atlantic

Plants and Animals


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Nicram Sabod/Shutterstock

Researchers analyzing the impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill reveal that the damage wasn’t restricted to the northern Gulf of Mexico. Unlike the oil, mobile marine animals present during the multi-month spill, including more than 320,000 sea turtles, have traveled throughout the Atlantic Ocean. The findings were published in Biology Letters last week. 

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