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46 Important Things Science Taught Us In 2014

It was a big year for robot penguins, snake penises, and space exploration. Sadly not all at the same time.

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1. Penguins huddle together with their outer layer of feathers just touching to keep warm.

2. Dogs prefer to poo while aligned with Earth's magnetic field.

3. Being sleep-deprived makes you more susceptible to forming false memories, in which you remember something that didn't actually happen.

4. There are 37.2 trillion cells in your body (human cells, that is – the microbiome is another story).

5. There's an Earth-sized planet 500 light-years away.

6. Time travellers don't use Twitter (or they're very good at covering their tracks).

7. The reason humans don't walk sideways like crabs is because it involves too much stopping and starting and ends up burning as many calories as running.

8. The Turin Shroud was not created by a radioactive earthquake at the time of Jesus' death.

9. There's now a meta-analysis that shows there is no link between vaccines and autism.

10. The world population is unlikely to stop growing this century.

11. Geckos are not very good at surviving in space.

12. In a swimming pool, urine combines with chlorine to create toxic byproducts – but not enough of them to do you any harm.

13. A component of chocolate might be able to help reverse memory loss in older people.

14. Mice trained to fear a specific smell can pass that fear on to their mice babies.

15. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet has started collapsing.

16. A new deep-sea mushroom-shaped creature has been discovered that defies classification.

17. Men stress mice out, which is quite worrying for any male scientists working with mice.

18. If you zoom in enough on people's faces in photographs, you might be able to extract identifiable images of bystanders in the eyes of those in the photograph.

19. Humans have been painting cave walls for at least 40,000 years, all over the world.

20. Sixty-four hours is plenty of time to gather interesting data from a comet you've landed on, if not the ideal amount.

21. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, sits within a neighbourhood of 100,000 galaxies.

22. Marriages that start with expensive engagement rings and weddings don't tend to last as long as ones that start with cheaper ones.

23. Mantis shrimp might not have super vision after all.

24. Nobody knows what the first image on the World Wide Web was.

25. You should try not to fall into the trap of giving your partner the silent treatment, because you might have a hard time breaking the cycle.

26. True stories don't necessarily make us more emotional than fictional ones.

27. You can manipulate people into feeling certain emotions by showing them more Facebook posts with that emotion in their news feed. (But you will make even more people feel angry because you did a huge experiment on them without properly asking.)

28. Students who write out notes by hand remember and understand more than those who take notes on a laptop.

29. Researchers have recorded 28 instances of oral sex between two male brown bears at a sanctuary in Croatia.

30. Female insects of the genus Neotrogla have a penis and can have sex for up to 70 hours.

31. Male rats can be trained to get turned on by female rats wearing little jackets.

32. People prefer electric shocks to being left alone with their thoughts for 15 minutes.

33. The first known swimming dinosaur was 15 metres long and had dense bones, probably to keep it underwater while hunting its prey.

34. The biggest dark spot on the nearside of the moon is not actually an impact crater, but a result of tectonic activity on the moon 3.5 billion years ago.

35. Mice seem to like running on wheels, even in the wild.

36. Some blind people use echolocation to find their way around.

37. It's possible to create teeny tiny supernovas in a lab using lasers.

38. The depth limit for fish in the sea is probably around 8,200 metres. The deepest fish found so far is a previously unknown snailfish discovered this year at a depth of 8,143 metres.

39. The 200km-high geysers we thought existed on Jupiter's moon Europa might not be there after all.

40. Tracking visits to certain Wikipedia pages can help scientists track disease outbreaks faster than traditional methods.

41. A 10-second kiss passes on 80 million bacteria.

42. Snakes have two penises because their genitalia develops from cells near to where there limbs would be.

43. Forty million years ago, there were mega penguins the size of humans.

44. It's possible to make bacteria in the lab with two extra base pairs in its DNA.

45. To evolve into birds, dinosaurs just kept shrinking.

46. If you dress up a rover as a baby penguin, it looks impossibly cute (and also lets you study penguins without disturbing them).

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