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5 Most Incredible Discoveries of the Week

Including how spiders in the city outgrow their country cousins
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2014 5:29 AM CDT
5 Most Incredible Discoveries of the Week
In this May 1 photo, a rice farmer walks his land in Richvale, Calif.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

(Newser) – A strange effect of the drought in the West and a reason to hang on to Junior's kindergarten doodles make the list:

  • Drought Lifts Western US—Literally: If you're in the western US, the ground you're standing on may be a little higher than it was a few years ago. It's all because of the drought, which makes for less water weighing down the region's tectonic plate.
  • Kids' Drawings May Predict Future Intelligence: Parents wondering whether their 4-year-olds will grow up to be on the honor roll might do well to pay attention to their drawings. A long-term study suggests a link between how well children draw at age 4 and their intelligence 10 years later.

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  • Why Birds Are Igniting in Midair Over California: Combine a massive solar power plant, some intensely focused rays of light, and birds flying by, and the result is bad news for the birds.
  • Planes Could Someday Get 'Human-Like' Skin: Aircraft may be a whole lot smarter soon, thanks to a human-like skin developed by UK researchers. The smart skin would get sprayed on like paint, and its microsensors would detect any signs of trouble, a kind of round-the-clock maintenance.
  • Spiders Prefer City Living: Though they've got more feet to avoid, spiders in the city seem to thrive in comparison to their counterparts in the country, a new study suggests. Researchers in Australia studied golden orb weaver spiders and found that they grew bigger and reproduced more in urban environments. They do especially well in ritzy neighborhoods.
Click to read about more discoveries, including how early humans may have spent less time than thought with Neanderthals and why we can blame seals for bringing tuberculosis to America. (Read more discoveries stories.)

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