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

ByAllison EckNOVA NextNOVA Next

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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

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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.

Photo Credit: Nyttend/Public domain, Pannonia/iStockphoto