Abstracts: Hobbits, New Elements, Methane Leaks, and More


• A new discovery sheds light on the evolution of tiny hominins, known as hobbits. This video explains and explores the evolution of these ancient human ancestors, and the journey to find their remains. (Nature)

Periodic Table

Four new elements on the periodic table have received proposed names. (Visual by Brian Cantoli/Flickr)

• Four new elements on the periodic table have received proposed names. Numbers 113, 115, 117 and 118 may become nihonium, moscovium, tennessine and oganesson, respectively. (Scientific American)

• After a medical device caused cancer to spread through a Pennsylvania woman’s body, a new bill proposes increased oversight by the FDA, while another proposes allowing patients to sue medical device makers that are currently shielded from liability. (Philidelphia Inquirer)

• Government reports of methane leaks in natural gas pipelines across the country are way off, according to a report filed with the EPA by the environmental group NC Warn. According to the group, actual leaks may be 100 times higher than reported. (Los Angeles Times)

• Pigs can fly — on cargo planes. And when transporting farm animals around the world, pandemics can fly with them. (Nautilus)

• The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said this year’s El Nino — one of the three strongest on record — is over. (Associated Press)

• Last year, physicists found what they described as a “fifth force” of physics. But this remarkable discovery is having trouble standing up to scrutiny. (Quanta)

• Cancer medication is more expensive in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world, but when compared to average affordability per-person, America does fairly well. (The Economist)

• And finally, as the technology for self-driving cars and machine-learning races ahead, who is making making ethical decisions, and should computers learn to make them on their own? (Wired)