Ranking the medal system: What separates Olympic losers from winners? by Susan E. Matthews:

While everyone is figuring out how to fill their time now that the Olympics are over, and others are turning back to Netflix, this year’s summer games gave us many incredible memories of how far the human body can extend itself. But what I am left wondering is what the athletes returning home think of their performances. I’m sure all are happy that they made it to the Olympics at all, but how do the top finishers feel about their performances?...

A Secret Behind the Whale’s Mighty Gulp by Kelly Slivka:

Somewhere in the vastness of the northern oceans, a fin whale is feeding. She has zeroed in on a school of silvery herring and she drives toward them, pumping the blade of her tail. At the last moment of her approach she pulls open her gaping jaw and lunges at the fish. Within six seconds she engulfs 24 pounds of herring and 21,000 gallons of water. She closes her mouth and filters the water out through her baleen before swallowing her prey. Then she repeats the process again and again...

Black hole’s annual feast begins by Nadia Drake:

A black hole about 290 million light-years away has just begun slurping material from its surroundings, an annual ritual revealed by a periodic brightening in X-ray wavelengths...

Common Lab Dye Found to Interrupt Formation of Huntington's Disease Proteins by Kathleen Raven:

A compound already sitting on the shelves of biomedical laboratories and emergency room supply closets seems to interrupt the formation of neurodegenerative protein clumps found in Huntington’s disease, according to a preliminary animal study published August 7 in the Journal of Neuroscience....

A 20-Year Low in U.S. Carbon Emissions by Rachel Nuwer:

Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in the United States from January through March were the lowest of any recorded for the first quarter of the year since 1992, the federal Energy Information Administration reports. ...

The problem with poker by Pete Etchells:

There’s a theory about the rise in popularity of televised poker; according to Marvin Ryder, a professor at McMaster University, it’s all ice hockey’s fault. In 2004, North America’s National Hockey League was put on ice for a whole season (ice, geddit? …nevermind) after a dispute over pay between the player’s association and league officials. Television stations were left with a fairly gaping hole in their schedules that they needed to fill quickly. Enter Texas Hold’em poker. As a watchable game, poker traditionally couldn’t be considered to be the most engaging thing to watch, but it was a UK Channel 4 programme called ‘Late Night Poker‘ that revolutionised the way in which viewers could engage with it, simply by introducing under-the-table cameras so that the audience could see the cards. All of sudden, it became a drama – watching players psych each other out, knowing that they didn’t hold a decent hand, or watching in agony as you could see someone walking into a trap. It made for brilliant TV, but with the associated rise in popularity of poker websites, legal issues came up about whether it should be classified as a game of chance, or a game of skill. This wasn’t a new issue, as the debate about the status of poker has been going on as long as the game’s been around. But it’s an interesting issue – in many countries, games of chance are either illegal or regulated, whereas the rules are more relaxed for games of skill, and certainly in the case of online poker, it can be easy to abuse the system if it’s left unchecked...

Why doctors are treating allergies with parasitic worms by Robert T. Gonzalez:

Hookworms are ghastly little creatures. Tiny, parasitic, and frighteningly invasive, these wriggling hell-spawn consistently rank among leading causes of morbidity in underdeveloped nations, abound in regions of the world suffering from poor sanitation, and have been described by various epidemiologists as "the American murderer" and the "the great infection of mankind."...

Why can’t you tickle yourself? by Robert T. Gonzalez:

"Solo tickle is even emptier than solo sex," psychologist Robert Provine once wrote. After all, "you can masturbate to climax, but you cannot tickle yourself." Why is tickling only an activity reserved for two or more people? And why exactly did we evolve to be ticklish in the first place?...

An Ecology of Houses by Kevin Burke:

When I think of nature, I conjure up an image of a landscape unadulterated by human presence. In my mind, I am standing in an open grassland with a pristine forest in the not-too-distant background and I hear birds chirping and mosquitoes buzzing in my ear. Others may picture thick tropical foliage where bright flowers pop out against a background of varying greens, set to a soundtrack of running water that snakes through seemingly uncharted territory. The exact image probably varies from person to person, but I think it's a safe bet that humans are conspicuously absent from these landscapes, or, at most, they are visualized as a few hunter-gathers roaming a forest in search of food. The image doesn't include people in either their make-shift encampment or permanent residence the same way we might picture a bird in its nest. Nature, it is thought, is not our houses, nor does it exist in our backyards or along the banks of a polluted or drying-up river. ...

Genes Means Hearts by Jo Poole:

In 2000, the human genome, a manuscript containing all the genes that make us human, was completed at a cost of $3 billion dollars. At a cost of nearly $1 a letter, this makes it the costliest script ever bought (its worthiest competitor being Audubon’s ‘Birds of America’, sold for $11.5 million). What, apart from renown, has this exorbitant purchase achieved?...