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Eighty-one years ago, a broadcast of Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds supposedly caused mass hysteria in America, as listeners thought Martians had invaded New Jersey.

There are varying accounts of the controversial incident, and it remains a topic of fascination, even today.

Back when Welles’s fictional Martians attacked, broadcast radio was considered a state-of-the-art technology.

And since the first transatlantic radio signal was transmitted in 1901 by Guglielmo Marconi, radio has greatly innovated the way we communicate.

December 25, as we all know, is Jesus Christ’s birthday, a Christian celebration in which the myth of three kings who travelled far and wide to give gifts to the “new born king” inspires the modern Christian tradition of gift giving. Early gifts used to be fruits or nuts, but as this act took on more importance, gifts became larger and less modest, and were placed under a tree.

The idea of hanging up decorations in the middle of winter is older than Christmas itself. Decorations are mentioned in ancient descriptions of the Roman feast of Saturnalia, which is thought to have originated in the 5th century BC.

Some 900 years later, a Christian bishop in Turkey wrote disapprovingly about members of his congregation who were drinking, feasting, dancing and “crowning their doors” with decorations in a pagan fashion at this time of year.

Humans have a “natural” lifespan of around 38 years, according to a new method we have developed for estimating the lifespans of different species by analyzing their DNA.

Extrapolating from genetic studies of species with known lifespans, we found that the extinct woolly mammoth probably lived around 60 years and bowhead whales can expect to enjoy more than two and a half centuries of life.

Our research, in Scientific Reports, looked at how DNA changes as an animal ages – and found that it varies from species to species and is related to how long the animal is likely to live.

While definitions vary, to “cancel” in today’s lingo means to remove people and cultural products from consumption and popular conversation. This is done in light of actions that make them unworthy of praise or critique.

Christmas and mistletoe: have you ever simply asked yourself … why? I have studied plant parasites like mistletoe for almost ten years, and I’m here to tell you that the answer is absolutely fascinating.

In Norse mythology, Baldur (younger brother to magic-hammer-wielding Thor), was the subject of a premonition from his mother Frigg, who could see the future: he would be killed. Frigg tackled this head on, extracting an oath from every object on Earth, to avoid harming her son. This was agreeable to all … except mistletoe, which was overlooked.