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?...

How Curiosity brought us together by Miriam Kramer:

The Curiosity landing was made for me. And actually (if you’re reading this) I bet it was made for you too. Like many people, about a month ago I watched with bated breath as the rover was lowered onto the surface of Mars in the wee hours of the morning. I fell slightly in love with Bobak the “Mohawk Guy” and desperately wanted to know where I could buy one of those snazzy blue shirts all the mission control operators were wearing. I laughed at the silly things Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted at the hipster-ish sounding Curiosity Rover handle...

Ancient Knots Keep Mars Rover's Laces Tied on Red Planet by Natalie Wolchover:

Five thousand years ago, the Egyptians used reef knots to fasten their belts. In the first century, Greek physicians employed both reef knots and clove hitches to tie surgical nooses. Today, these ancient knots are coming in handy on Mars....

New drug protects memory against stress in mouse study by Kathleen Raven:

A drug previously tested against muscular dystrophy might offer protection against memory problems induced by stressful conditions, according to a preliminary mouse study. Researchers behind the study say the findings could one day contribute to treatments such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However other scientists in the field say the mechanism of action is in need of further evidence, and as such the jury remains out on the clinical utility of the agent....

Voyager chasing solar system's edge by Nadia Drake:

NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft, launched 35 years ago on September 5, 1977, is bracing for a controlled plunge into interstellar space. Soon the craft will leave the solar system behind, bursting through the windy bubble blown by sun. The question is: How soon?...

Admitting That Big Ugly Spider Is Terrifying Will Make It Less Frightening by Rachel Nuwer:

Talk about your fear while you do the thing you fear most, and according to new research, you may be able to overcome your phobia....

Yes, Arcade Crane Games Are Rigged by Rose Eveleth:

You’ve probably always suspected that those crane games at arcades were rigged. Of course, that hasn’t stopped you from pumping quarters in and being disappointed when a plush My Little Pony fails to come out. But, sadly, your suspicions are correct. Crane games are designed not to reward skill, but luck...

Will 6 Species Perish? Asia’s Conservation Crossroads by Joanna Foster:

On Sept. 1, 1914, the last passenger pigeon on earth died in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo. The species, once numbering in the billions, had been hunted to extinction. Around the same time, another iconic North American species, the bison, was also being hunted past the point of no return. But the bison didn’t die off steadily until the last one perished in an enclosure. The species rebounded, and today shaggy herds meander through Yellowstone National Park, blissfully unaware of how close they came to being wiped out....

Burn Notice: Mustard Species' Specialized Spices Keep Local Bugs at Bay by Daisy Yuhas:

When you pass the Grey Poupon, you're probably not thinking about nature's defense systems. But mustard's kick is not just for seasoning your sandwich, it's a plant's way of biting back. Recent research has found one reason why certain mustard plants carry these chemical compounds: in some environments a spicy taste may deter pests....

Africa Grows Too Hot to Grow Chocolate by Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato:

Climate change could destroy West Africa's cocoa farms, disrupting domestic and international economies, experts say. By 2060, more than half of the cocoa-producing countries in the region may be too hot to grow the crop, according to a report released by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture. If scientists can't engineer a drought-resistant cocoa tree, the international market will see a significant increase in prices, and West African nations may experience a spike in poverty, drug trafficking and food riots....