This Week in Science: Shooting Stars, Screaming Plants, and Dinosaur Lips

It’s time for “Nerd News,” covering the most important news for your brain.  Here’s a quick rundown of this week in science . . .

1.  Elon Musk and dozens of tech people signed a letter calling for a pause in the development of A.I., citing “profound risks to society and humanity.”  Neil deGrasse Tyson joked that we’re watching too many movies, and said he’s “not as fearful” about it.  But some A.I. experts don’t think the letter goes far enough.

2.  In dinosaur news:  Tyrannosaurus rex might have had lips(???)  In “Jurassic Park” and every other dinosaur movie, their teeth poke out even when their mouth is closed.  But a new study found their lips covered them up, and they looked a lot less scary.  (Here’s an artist’s rendering.)

3.  In insect news:  Beetles stay alive during hibernation by drinking through their butts.  And a study found female funnel weaving spiders play dead during sex so the males don’t have to worry about being eaten.

4.  Smart leggings now exist.  A team in Sweden developed electronic yarn that can predict when you’re too exhausted to keep working out.

5.  The first artificial meteor shower will happen in Japan in 2025.  A company is dropping hundreds of pea-sized metal balls from a satellite 250 miles up.  So it’ll look like hundreds of shooting stars all at once.

6.  A study found some plants “scream” when they need water.  That’s the word being used in headlines anyway.  When tomato plants and grape vines are thirsty, they give off a sound similar to “bubble-wrap being popped.”  (Here’s a clip.)

It’s loud enough to pick up from three feet away, but too high-pitched for our ears.  Some animals can hear it though.  So plants might be communicating with their surroundings more than we realize.

7.  Former Google nerd Ray Kurzweil made headlines this week for predicting we’ll be able to live forever by the year 2030.  It’s actually an old prediction he made in 2005.  It resurfaced after a pair of YouTube videos went viral.  He thinks nanobots will constantly fix our cells, so we’ll essentially be immortal.

8.  And in related news:  Hospitals in the U.K. just started using a new blood test that can supposedly predict cancerous tumors more than a year before they start to even form.  People are calling it the “future of cancer treatment.”