Lucid Dreamers, Auto-Repelling Octopus Arms, and Flying Cow Intestines: NOVA Next Week in Review

This Week’s NOVA Next Feature Article

Pharmaceuticals—inescapable in medicine—are increasingly prevalent in our drinking water. But is that a problem? NOVA Next contributor Leigh Krietsch Boerner investigates the complicated question of drugs in our water.

Lake Monroe, the source of Bloomington, Indiana's drinking water.

In other news from NOVA and around the web:

  • Up to half of a polar bear’s body weight is made up of fat. How do they survive with so much blubber? The answer is in their genes.
  • Richard Feynman’s birthday would have been last Sunday. Here, he reminds us that our divisions of life are artificial and arbitrary.
  • Both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security were present at an MIT conference on synthetic biology. Why? Because it’s probably the field of the future.
  •  The social lives of spiders could tell us: 1) Where our personalities come from, 2) Why some people are louder than others, and 3) Why we can’t seem to leave high school behind.
  • WiFi routers using the 5 GHz bands interfere with weather radar, vexing meteorologists. But there might be a simple solution.
  • Adrienne Block studies global warming in Antarctica. She can also play “Bohemian Rhapsody” on her bassoon.


Did you miss "Escape from Nazi Alcatraz" this week? Watch it streaming online.


  • Some people have as much fun in their dreams as they do in real life. Now, scientists might have found a way to induce lucid dreaming in any human brain.
  • The number of connected devices will exceed the world’s population by the end of this year.
  • Gravity might occupy more than three dimensions. Physicists just don’t know yet how it works—and they can’t seem to find the elusive graviton.
  • The National September 11 Memorial Museum opened Thursday. Watch “Ground Zero Supertower” streaming online to see engineers build the museum and its neighbor, 1 World Trade Center.
  • The U.S. National Institutes of Health has announced that it will require researchers to end gender bias in basic research.
  • It took 250,000 cows to make just one Zeppelin—so many that sausage production was forbidden in Germany during World War I.
  • With 400,000 neurons governing its movement, a single octopus arm has a “mind of its own.” Collectively, the arms’ system of self-avoidance could help build better robots.