Science & Health


Despite sounding like an off-brand breakfast cereal, the genetic engineering technique CRISPR has infiltrated the vocabulary of the general public, stoking fierce ethics debates, imaginative renderings of the future, and even inspiring a novel and a J.Lo-backed TV series. That's because CRISPR truly is amazing, allowing human beings to alter genetic code with a level of precision never before achieved. And now there's actual video footage documenting just how amazing CRISPR really is.


Authorities say a California man who was arrested after crashing during a high-speed chase allegedly "thought it would be funny" to flash a laser at a police helicopter, Ars Technica reports. Such laser strikes are dangerous because they can disorient pilots and endanger their passengers and people on the ground. The FAA reports roughly 5000 laser strikes per year around the US, though this might be the most dramatic and idiotic case yet.


64,000 Australia jobs depend on the health of the Great Barrier Reef, contributing $6.4 billion to the Australian economy.

But despite both the economic and obvious environmental benefits to keeping it in tip-top shape, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's second World Heritage Outlook report confirmed the Reef is at a "very high level of threat" from climate change and there is "real concern" that its condition is deteriorating.


Give Blood, the UK's blood donation service, has been copping flak after asking for black blood donors. Everybody bleeds so why does race matter when it comes to blood donors?

The answer to that question came in the form of a lengthy, gif-laden Twitter thread.


A small contingent of chunky, dove-like birds cautiously patter around a clearing in a park in suburban Sydney. Suddenly, a feral cat pounces out from some nearby brush, narrowly missing a flock member's feather plume-festooned head with a paw. In a panicked huff, the birds take flight, and the air fills with a series of creaking whistles. Amazingly, these noises don't come from the birds' mouths, but from the flapping of their wings. The birds - crested pigeons (Ocyphaps lophotes) - have long been recognised for their loud flying, but new research has revealed how they make the whistling and just what these strange sounds are for: the whistling wings function as an alarm, telling other pigeons that danger is near and to vamoose, and it's unlike anything known among birds.


In January, as the Obama era was winding down, both the US Food and Drug Administration and the US Department of Agriculture quietly snuck through proposed regulations set to substantially overhaul the regulation of genetically engineered organisms for the first time in 30 years - and create drastic roadblocks to the development and commercialisation of genetically engineered foods.