Every "Game of Thrones" season premiere needs its shock reveal – and season six is no different. As the name of the episode – The Red Woman – hints, this one pertains to red priestess Melisandre, to whom, it turns out, there’s much more than meets the eye (don’t worry, no spoilers ensue). Even in a series known for its complex characters and even more complicated morality, Melisandre and her motives remain surprisingly opaque. And it looks as if her story’s only just getting started.

In the Middle Ages, women became important for the development of piano composition and play. But why? 

There have long been rules and conventions regarding what women can and can’t do in the world of music at all times. Straddling the legs around a cello was considered immoral, for example, and so sitting by the piano became what ladies did. By the 19th century, almost every piano composition was written for women and girls.

“Women’s piano playing has had enormous significance for the development of piano composition,” argues Lise Karin Meling, associate professor at the Department of Music and Dance at the University of Stavanger. 
Laughter plays a crucial role in every culture across the world. But it’s not clear why laughter exists. While it is evidently an inherently social phenomenon – people are up to 30 times more likely to laugh in a group than when alone – laughter’s function as a form of communication remains mysterious.

Cigarette smoking is a noxious mess of 200 toxic chemicals that are risk factors for all kinds of diseases, and so it is sure to be a burden on a health care system that in the United States is increasingly being funded by the government, and therefore the 80 percent of people who do not smoke.

Yet it is also an addiction, and so a small one-year longitudinal study based on surveys which suggests that smokers remain unemployed longer than nonsmokers might seem to be a self-correcting problem. Or it might be that health issues are being used for discrimination, with implicit government approval, the exact opposite of what the federal government says they wanted to accomplish with their health initiatives. 

Scientists have pieced together an early human habitat for the first time, and life was no organic picnic 1.8 million years ago. Nature was out to kill us and the struggle our ancestors face, as all creatures do, is survival. Rather than the myth of ecological balance, if you were going to survive, you got there earlier and were more fit to last. 

Analysis of artifacts found on the shores of Rapa Nui, Chile (Easter Island) declares that the spear points were likely general purpose tools and not weapons of war, disputing one popular belief as to why people left or died off.

The Oxford Dictionaries selected "vape"--as in, to smoke from an electronic cigarette or inhalation device --as word of the year in 2014. Internet users' search behavior tells a similar story. 

In a post-apocalyptic future, what might happen to life if humans left the scene? After all, humans are very likely to disappear long before the sun expands into a red giant and exterminates all living things from the Earth.

Assuming that we don’t extinguish all other life as we disappear (an unlikely feat in spite of our unique propensity for driving extinction), history tells us to expect some pretty fundamental changes when humans are no longer the planet’s dominant animal species.

Bullying is a common technique to gain power or prestige, and has been for as long as humans and other animals have existed. It can take many forms. School yard tactics, like taking lunch money, have grown into Internet campaigns, such as tormenting kids on Facebook, and it has even become organized movements, like the dark-money funded group SourceWatch attacking scientists and pro-science groups for their donors.

A new review article seeks to outline roles and recommendations for peers, parents, schools and new media platforms to stop bullying. 

As Europeans spread across the New World, native Americans were overmatched. People who had never even learned how to write were up against soldiers with muskets - and new diseases they had no immunity against.

But lost in all of the anthropological speculation is any real evidence; did Europeans wipe out native populations with disease and war shortly after their first contact, and did it happen so fast it left tell-tale fingerprints on the global climate?