July 11th, 2011
10:10 AM ET

Monday morning science boost

Good morning, science fans! Here are some thought-provoking items from around the web to start your day:

–Today marks the 32nd anniversary of the return of Skylab, the first U.S. space station. Although it did accomplish a few things, including in the areas of solar research and adaptation of astronauts to a long time in space, it was generally not a success, says Wired.

–Asteroids aren't necessarily lone rocks in space. Vesta, measuring 330 miles across, may have a moon. NASA's Dawn spacecraft may settle the matter soon, taking the best-ever photographs of Vesta after it goes into orbit in mid-July, Space.com reports.

–Can a chimpanzee live as a human and learn sign language? In an experiment in the 1970s, a chimp called Nim Chimsky (like famed linguist Noam Chomsky) was raised as a member of a human family. Nim did learn some signs, but not in such a way that he could converse or share information. There's now a documentary about the subject, called Project Nim. Scientific American points out a number of scandals that marred this experiment.

–What's inside a potato? Scientists have finally sequenced the potato genome, which proved quite tricky. Understanding the potato's genetic code may help fight diseases, Scientific American reports.

–They're cute, emotional and built to serve you - some of them are even furry. They're robots developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and some can even "get inside your head." Check it out at the Japan Times.

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