This is it. Summer is officially over… We’ve put together five things to read instead of thinking back to those sweet vacation days, hopefully making your day less blue. 

A Virtual Reality ‘Holodeck’ for Lab Animals

Devotees of the late, great sci-fi series Star Trek: The Next Generation will remember the holodeck, a space-age virtual reality arena that could replicate any kind of environment. In an inspired twist on the concept, European researchers have developed a virtual reality environment for freely moving animals that appears to be effective at generating convincing illusions of the natural world of mice, fish and fruit flies.

Popping Pills Instead of Working Out Anyone?

What if you could reap the benefits of exercise without moving a muscle? A new study from the UK has taken an important step toward understanding how the human body senses when it is exercising and developing a potential way to flip this “switch” without breaking a sweat. But don’t cancel your gym membership just yet – the study was done in mice.

The Solar Eclipse Had a Spooky Effect on Nature

Last week’s solar eclipse didn’t just make humans go crazy and indulge in odd behaviour; it also had a wide range of effects on animals and plants. From flowers spontaneously shutting their petals to hundreds of thousands of salmon washing ashore, the eclipse had a downright spooky impact on nature.

I Tried a Bunch of DNA Tests, and All I Got Was a Bunch of Useless Data

Kristen Brown would wake up every morning as a child and tap dance on the patio outside her mom’s bedroom door as the sun raised, much to her poor mom’s chagrin. These sunrise salutations became an enduring family story, as did her habit of getting up with the sun. But to her surprise, her recent DNA test suggested that she’s, in fact, a night owl.

It Only Takes a Few Gene Tweaks to Make a Human Voice

How and when did we first become able to speak? A new analysis of our DNA reveals key evolutionary changes that reshaped our faces and larynxes, and which may have set the stage for complex speech.