Discovered: A record-breaking galaxy cluster; how squids change hue; the way our brains deal with waste; engineering better toilets.
How squids get so flashy. Do you ever wish you could make a wardrobe change at any moment, changing your appearance through sheer will? Then envy squids, who are able to change the color of their glistening skin. Trevor Wardill of the Marine Biology Laboratory in Massachusetts wanted to learn how squids do this, so he and his colleagues electrocuted the creature's skin. By watching the waves of electricity pulse through the squids' skin, they learned that a network of nerves allows squids to oscillate through a wide range of hues in mere seconds. These color-shifts aren't reflexes, but rather a behavior controlled by the central nervous system. The kicker? Squids are colorblind, so they can't even see the shades they're cycling through. Check out a mesmerizing video of this process below. [New Scientist]
Cerebral refuse. Even the brain has to deal with waste matter, and now Jeffrey Iliff of the University of Rochester Medical Center has discovered its mechanism for getting rid of mental garbage. Iliff and his colleagues have isolated cerebrospinal fluid as the agent for flushing out such unwanted materials as the amyloid beta protein, which is responsible for stoking Alzheimer’s disease. Cellular drains act like sewage pipes, carrying away the liquid slush. [Science News]