Discovered: The first image of one billion stars, a new high for Autism diagnoses, some fishing advice and Lucy's cousins.

  • A billion stars in one image. We've seen some pretty beautiful images of stars, novas, and dust before, but, for the first time ever, science has squeezed that many stars into one shot. And in science, firsts count. To get all those stars, researchers had to combine infra-red images from two different telescopes located in different hemispheres. You're looking at the Milky Way galaxy's plane, by the way. Vast, isn't it? "This incredible image gives us a new perspective of our galaxy, and illustrates the far-reaching discoveries we can make from large sky surveys," agrees researcher Dr Nick Cross.  [Royal Astronomical Society
  • A new high for Autism diagnoses. A 25 percent increase from the last estimate, the Center for Disease Control now estimates one in 88 children has autism. That's high. Researchers aren't clear why the prevalence of the disease continues rising, but could have something to do with better awareness and therefore detection. "Doctors have gotten better at diagnosing the condition and communities have gotten better at providing services, so I think we can say it is possible that the increase is the result of better detection," explains CDC Director Thomas Frieden. One thing we can say for sure, though, it does not have much of anything to do with vaccines.  [Reuters]
  • Some fishing advice from science. Fishermen, you must choose between higher catch rates or more humane fishing hooks because research just found those nicer circle hooks (the bottom one in that image) lower catch rates. Sorry. "Circle hooks were roughly 60 to 70 percent as effective at catching these three species as J hooks," explains researcher Paul Rudershausen. "The charter ocean fishing industry is economically significant in North Carolina, receiving approximately $65 million in for-hire fees in 2009. The concern is that circle hooks would drive down catch rates – which could result in fewer clients for North Carolina's offshore charter fishing industry." So what's it going to be? Fish torture or money? [NC State]
  • Lucy had some cousins. We're talking about Lucy the early human-relative, that was something of a half-man half-ape creature who lived 3.2 million years ago. Science now believes Lucy wasn't the only in-between species living around that time, based on the discovery of a foot bone. "The Burtele partial foot clearly shows that at 3.4 million years ago, Lucy’s species, which walked upright on two legs, was not the only hominin species living in this region of Ethiopia," explains researcher Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie. "Her species co-existed with close relatives who were more adept at climbing trees, like ‘Ardi’s’ species, Ardipithecus ramidus, which lived 4.4 million years ago," she continues. [Cleveland Museum of Natural History]