This Week in Science: Smartphone Pain, Belated Christmas in Space, and a Sand-Inscribing Robot

Seven days, lots of science in the news. Here's our roundup of this week's most notable and quotable items:


Illustration by Sarah Peavey

(Note: Luddites can skip ahead.) Move over, stiff neck; there's a new spinal problem to reckon with. Doctors are seeing some patients with "text neck"--pain caused by inclining one's head for long periods of time while staring at a smartphone, thus putting extra stress on the spine.

Since 1990, sea levels have risen much more quickly than predicted.

Christmas came a little late for the astronauts aboard the International Space Station; a SpaceX Dragon capsule resupplied the orbiting lab in place of the Orion capsule that suffered launch failure back in October. SpaceX had hoped to be able to recover the first stage of the rocket with a drone ship--a big step towards reusable rockets--but the landing was too hard. The ISS also suffered an ammonia leak scare that was probably just a computer failure.

A protein involved in animal hibernation could yield insights into fighting Alzheimer's disease.

Kids eat more vegetables and fruits if they eat lunch after recess instead of before it.

One species of pitcher plant may naturally adjust the slipperiness of its traps to let scout ants escape--then dine on the larger band of ants that comes back later.

Your environment likely shapes your immune system more than your genes do.

Stripes might help zebras stay cool in hotter habitats.

Disney researchers created a turtle-shaped robot that draws pictures in beach sand.

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