Discovered: How the Mississippi saved the gulf from total ruin, the Milky Way is full of planets, the risks of not going on The Pill, smoking while pregnant is still bad. 

  • How the Mississippi river saved the gulf from total ruin after the BP oil spill. After the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the gulf in 2010, researchers expected things would look much dirtier than they did. "We noticed that there was a big disconnect between the forecasts of where the oil was going to be the next day and where the oil actually was the next day," explains researcher Douglas Jerolmack. The push from the Mississippi current was actually what was keeping things off the coast. "The idea is that, if the water surface is tilting a little bit, then maybe the oil will move downhill, sort of like a ball on a plate. If you tilt the plate, the ball will roll one way and then another," he continues. Overall, it kept things much cleaner. Nature has nature's back, that's kind of heartwarming. [University of Pennsylvania]
  • The Milky Way is full of a lot of planets. Our galaxy may look like a lot of stars, but research says its mostly planets. And that a lot of those planets are possibly life-bearing and Earth-like. Due to some calculations and estimations, a group of researchers believes there are a few hundred thousand billion free-floating life-bearing Earth-sized planets out there. For every one Milky Way star, here are a few hundred thousand, they believe. We are not alone! [Astrophysics and Space Science]
  • The risks of not going on The Pill. One alternative to the birth control pill is the Nuva ring or the patch, which some women who don't like taking pills every day prefer. Science, however, has some words of caution for that subset. Women on these forms of birth control have a higher risk of developing blood clots, with the highest risk of those on the patch. It's not exactly dangerous to use these alternatives. But, just something to consider, explains researcher Oejvind Lidegaard. "If women still prefer to have a ring or a patch, for example, because they are not able to remember to take the pill daily, then they can continue. That is their own choice. For me, the important thing is that they are informed about the risk." [BBC]
  • Your smoking is still bad for your baby. This feels obvious already, but it apparently need repeating. Smoking while pregnant makes for less healthy babies. Here's another reason why: Children whose mothers smoked while pregnant may have a harder time controlling their asthma. Looking at 2,500 kids, the study found that those whose moms were smokers had a 50 percent higher risk of having poorly controlled asthma. We know, this is so obvious: Smoking into your babies umbilical chords will probably do bad things to their developing lungs. But now it's fact. "There are measurable effects even years down the road," explains researcher Sam Oh. [Reuters]