- Science Current Events Archives
- Science News Sources
- New Planets
New planets have been discovered and they are outside of our solar system (extrasolar). The first extrasolar planet was discovered in 1995. syst
- "Mirror Neurons" Associated with Empathy (Scientific American)
"This video segment, adapted from NOVA scienceNow, describes the recent discovery and implications of mirror neurons, a specific kind of brain cell that fires both when performing an action and when observing someone else perform the same action. It turns out that mirror neurons, which are normally associated with physical activities, might also be responsible for signaling the human brain's emotional system, which in turn allows us to empathize with other people. Their failure to work normally might explain why some people, including autistic people, do not interact well with others." 12-11
- Pictures and Sounds of Galaxies (CosmicLog.msnbc.msn.com)
"Help yourself to the biggest pictures and the coolest sounds from space." 06-08
- Watch Simulation of Curiosity Landing on Mars (JPL.NASA)
Provides a simulation of the complex landing. 08-12
- -01 Scientists Make a New Type of Matter Out of Light (KSL.com)
"A team of scientists from Harvard and MIT said they found a way to bind light together, creating a new type of matter. The findings go against what scientists previously believed possible."
- -01-02-14 Huge Lake Found Under Greenland (Time.com)
"The volume of the aquifer—which is fed by meltwater that flows through the Greenland ice sheet—is immense, an estimated 154 billion tons of water. That would be enough by itself to raise global sea levels by 0.016 in (.04 cm) were the entire underground lake to flow into the oceans. That may not sound like a whole lot—the seas already rise by more than that amount each year, thanks to melting ice sheets and thermal expansion of warming seawater—but the discovery of the aquifer should help scientists better understand how melt water moves through the Greenland ice sheet."
"That’s important because as the climate has warmed, the pace of ice loss in Greenland has accelerated, from 121 billion tons a year from 1993 to 2005 to 229 billion tons a year between 2005 and 2010. Better understanding of the physics governing the way the ice sheet, snow and meltwater interact could help scientists predict how Greenland will respond to warming in the future. And that matters because—never mind the fraction of an inch of sea level rise the newly discovered lake could cause—there’s enough frozen water locked in Greenland’s ice sheet to raise global sea levels by more than 20 ft. (6 m) were it all to melt. Scientists may like surprises when they’re discovering an underground lake, but when it comes to the threat of climate change, a little certainty would be preferable." 01-14
- -01-19-16 Five-Planet Alignment (ABC News)
"Five bright planets -- Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter -- will be visible just before sunrise beginning Jan. 20. The planetary spectacle is expected to last for the next month -- and the best part is, people hoping to get a look at the cosmic occurrence can enjoy it with the naked eye." 01-16
- -02-01-16 Using CRISPR to Alter Human Gene Defects (ScienceMag.org)
"CRISPR opens the door to an unprecedented level of control over the human genome. Older techniques for editing DNA have been blunt and unreliable at best; CRISPR, on the other hand, is quickly emerging as the precision blade to those butter-knife approaches."
"CRISPR allows scientists to precisely snip out and replace genes, and for the first time, the newly green-lit experiment will apply this to the so-called germline cells in an embryo—the DNA in an embryo so early in its development that all of its resulting cells will carry the change—and pass it on to the next generation. Monday’s decision has been eagerly anticipated by scientists around the world." 02-16
- -02-05-15 Ancient Solar System Promotes New Thinking About Alien Life (Huffington Post)
"Scientists analyzing data from the Kepler space telescope have discovered a first: an Earth-size planet orbiting in the habitable zone of its parent star, researchers announced Thursday." 02-15
- -02-11-16 Scientists Have Detected Gravity Waves (New York Times)
"A team of physicists who can now count themselves as astronomers announced on Thursday that they had heard and recorded the sound of two black holes colliding a billion light-years away, a fleeting chirp that fulfilled the last prophecy of Einstein’s general theory of relativity."
"That faint rising tone, physicists say, is the first direct evidence of gravitational waves, the ripples in the fabric of space-time that Einstein predicted a century ago (Listen to it here.). And it is a ringing (pun intended) confirmation of the nature of black holes, the bottomless gravitational pits from which not even light can escape, which were the most foreboding (and unwelcome) part of his theory."
"More generally, it means that scientists have finally tapped into the deepest register of physical reality, where the weirdest and wildest implications of Einstein’s universe become manifest."
Editor's note: Some of this description, such as the power emitted, may be incorrect. 02-16
- -02-15-14 Fusion Energy Breakthrough (DailyKos.com)
"Ignition -- the process of releasing fusion energy equal to or greater than the amount of energy used to confine the fuel -- has long been considered the "holy grail" of inertial confinement fusion science. A key step along the path to ignition is to have "fuel gains" greater than unity, where the energy generated through fusion reactions exceeds the amount of energy deposited into the fusion fuel."
"Though ignition remains the ultimate goal, the milestone of achieving fuel gains greater than 1 has been reached for the first time ever on any facility. In a paper published in the Feb. 12 online issue of the journal Nature, scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) detail a series of experiments on the National Ignition Facility (NIF), which show an order of magnitude improvement in yield performance over past experiments." 02-14
- -02-23-17 Trappist-1 Earth-Like Planets (Vox.com)
" 'Maybe the most exciting thing here is that these seven planets are very well suited for detailed atmospheric study,' Gillon said. The James Webb Space Telescope, set to launch in 2018, will have the ability to measure the chemical composition of exoplanet atmospheres. If the atmospheres contain telltale gases like ozone, oxygen, or methane, life could exist there. 'We can expect that in a few years, we will know a lot more about these [seven] planets,' Amaury Triaud, another of the paper’s co-authors, said." 02-17
- -02-27-15 Science Explains Why We Can't Agree on Color of Dress (CBS News)
"What strikes Maynard as particularly odd about all of this is that while after seeing most optical illusions, people are typically able to force themselves to switch back and forth between one interpretation and another. Consider the famous face/vase image. Once you've seen both the face and the vase, you can make yourself see either one."
"But that doesn't seem to be happening with this dress, hence the vehement debate." 02-15
- -02-28-15 A Dress Shows That Color Doesn't Exist by Itself (Time.com)
"If two people see color so differently, what does that mean for how we perceive each other. What does that mean for how we perceive ourselves?"
"Color is, quite literally, a figment of your imagination, Lotto said. It only exists in your head. Bevil Conway, a neuroscientist who studies color and vision at Wellesley College, explained it this way: “Color is this computation that our brains make that enables us to extract meaning from the world.”
"Of course, if you want to get technical about it, there are receptors called cones in our eyes that act like little color channel sensors. One cone processes blue, another processes red, another green. An elaborate network of sophisticated cells in the brain compares the activity of these cones, and then signals from our brain produce the impression of colors. This system is working furiously, all the time." 02-15
- -03-01-14 NASA Discovers 715 New Worlds (ScienceDaily.com)
"NASA's Kepler mission announced Wednesday the discovery of 715 new planets. These newly-verified worlds orbit 305 stars, revealing multiple-planet systems much like our own solar system. Nearly 95 percent of these planets are smaller than Neptune, which is almost four times the size of Earth. This discovery marks a significant increase in the number of known small-sized planets more akin to Earth than previously identified exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system." 03-14
- -03-02-14 Oldest Piece of Earth Found (ScienceDaily.com)
"Scientists say they have dated an ancient crystal called a zircon to about 4.4 billion years, making it the earliest confirmed piece of the planet's crust. The findings -- the first to describe the zircon -- were published in the journal Nature Geoscience on Sunday." 03-14
- -03-08 Plan to Visit a Nearby Star (CNet)
"The program will be built around technology that uses light to propel a tiny spacecraft that can collect data and images and send them back to Earth. The 'nanocraft,' which can fit in the palm of your hand, will carry cameras, photon thrusters, a power supply, and navigation and communication equipment."
- -03-15-15 Scientists Search for Dark Matter With Hadron Collider (PBS.org)
"The massive particle collider runs in a 17-mile circumference ring under the Switzerland-France border. In 2013, physicists used the high-energy particle smasher to find the elusive Higgs boson. The Higgs boson explained why particles have mass, an idea first proposed in the 1960s."
"It was a monumental achievement for the field of physics. It was the final piece in the Standard Model of physics, the theory which describes the particles that make up the universe and the forces between them."
"One mystery physicists hope to unlock in the next phase of experiments is dark matter. Scientists estimate that dark matter makes up 85 percent of the universe, Mike Lamont, operations group leader for CERN, told CNN. It’s invisible, and it would explain effects physicists can observe on radiation and visible matter in the universe." 3-15
- -03-16 New Treatment for Mitochondria Problems (Time.com)
"To help women with mitochondria problems from passing them on to their children, scientists remove the nucleus DNA from the egg of a prospective mother and insert it into a donor egg from which the donor DNA has been removed. This can happen before or after fertilization. The resulting embryo ends up with nucleus DNA from its parents but mitochondrial DNA from a donor. The DNA from the donor amounts to less than 1 percent of the resulting embryo's genes." 03-16
- -03-20-14 Scientists Get to See a Black Hole "Eat" for the First Time (PBS.org)
Shep Doeleman, an astronomer with MIT’s Haystack Observatory and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said: " 'We really don’t know precisely how black holes eat or the frequency of their meals,' he continued. 'This would give us the opportunity to not only to do in real time, but to do it in a place that resolves what happens.' " 03-14
- -04-07-15 NASA Scientist: Extrterrestrial Life Will Be Found Soon (Huffington Post)
"NASA's top scientist predicts that we'll find signs of alien life by 2025, with even stronger evidence for extraterrestrials in the years that follow." 04-10
- -04-24-2015 Space Agency to Measure and Map the Milky Way (Forbes.com)
"A mission by the European Space Agency to measure and map the Milky Way promises to give astronomers a precise, detailed, and three-dimensional view of our galaxy. The five-year project will generate more than a petabyte of data on the makeup, position, motion, and other characteristics of a billion stars."
“ 'It will single handedly increase the data we possess about where stars are located in space by thousands of times compared to all previous such measurements in history,' writes the Boston Globe." 04-15
- -04-28-14 NASA Using Old Images to Find New Planets (Time.com)
"A team of scientists from the Space Telescope Science Institute has re-analyzed old Hubble images with new software algorithms to reveal disks of dusty material around five young stars—an indirect hint that unseen planets are lurking there as well. 'We had evidence that these disks might exist,' says Rémi Soummer, the institute astronomer who led the project, 'but we had no idea about their size or structure.' " 04-14
- -05-23-15 Galaxy Shines With the Light of 300 Trillion Suns (PBS.org)
"In a galaxy far, far away — specifically 12.5 billion [light] years from Earth — shines the light of more than 300 trillion suns. NASA’s space telescope Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, WISE, recently discovered the galaxy — the brightest one ever found."
"NASA said the galaxy belongs to a new class of objects called ELIRGs, or extremely luminous infrared galaxies, and scientists believe that a black hole inside the galaxy could be the cause of the bright light." 05-15
- -07-14-15 Pluto Photographed in a Spacecraft Flyby (Time.com)
"The spacecraft’s travel was meticulously planned and on point: it arrived one minute before scheduled arrival and used a '36-by-57 mile window in space' to get to its destination—a feat NASA compared to 'the equivalent of a commercial airliner arriving no more off target than the width of a tennis ball.' At its closest approach, New Horizons was about 7,750 miles above Pluto’s surface, approximately the distance between New York and Mumbai."
"With New Horizons’ approach, the United States has solidified its role as a leader in space exploration, becoming the first and only country to have sent a spacecraft to every planet in the solar system." 07-15
- -07-23-15 NASA Finds a "Bigger, Older Cousin" to Earth (Time.com)
"NASA has discovered an Earth-like planet orbiting around a star, which a NASA researcher called a 'bigger, older cousin to Earth.' " 07-15
- -08-03-14 ALMA Radio Telescope to Peer Deepest into Space (CBS News)
"Right now the antennas are spread out on the plateau over a distance of a mile. But they're moveable, and eventually, they could spread out over 10 miles. That will mimic a single telescope dish 10 miles wide."
"Then, ALMA will be able to see far off objects with greater detail than ever before." 08-14
- -08-10-17 Safety Tips for Viewing a Solar Eclipse (NationalForests.org)
"The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as 'eclipse glasses' or handheld solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun."
"Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device. Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury. Seek expert advice from an astronomer before using a solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device." 08-17
- -08-28-12 Human Voice Travels to Mars and Back (CNN News)
"The voice of NASA's chief has boldly gone where no voice has gone before -- to another planet and back." 08-12
- -09-05-14 Ocean Creature Defies Classification (BBC News)
"A mushroom-shaped sea animal discovered off the Australian coast has defied classification in the tree of life."
"A team of scientists at the University of Copenhagen says the tiny organism does not fit into any of the known subdivisions of the animal kingdom."
"Such a situation has occurred only a handful of times in the last 100 years." 04-13
- -10-03-14 New Data Suggest a Paradox at the Event Horizon (PBS.org)
" In 2012, Polchinski and his colleagues found a problem with the event horizon. As particles enter the event horizon, they’re ripped apart. As these particles break down, their research showed, they release a burst of energy, creating a firewall around the center of the black hole. This has become known as 'the firewall paradox.' This notion of the event horizon as a highly energetic region throws another wrench in Einstein’s theory, which said that nothing special should happen at the event horizon."
"That’s where Hawking’s latest paper comes in, suggesting physicists need to rethink that event horizon. His latest proposal suggests that there is in fact no event horizon to burn up. Instead, the apparent horizon becomes the real boundary." 10-14
- -10-08-13 First Evidence of a Comet Striking Earth (Wits.ac.za)
"The first ever evidence of a comet entering Earth’s atmosphere and exploding, raining down a shock wave of fire which obliterated every life form in its path, has been discovered by a team of South African scientists and international collaborators...." 10-13
- -10-17 Virus Steals Genetic Code of Spider Poison (NewScientist.com)
"In one of the most unexpected genetic thefts ever, a virus that infects bacteria appears to have stolen the gene coding for the poison of the black widow spiders. The virus, named WO, probably uses the gene to help it attack its targets." 10-16
- -11-04-13 Our Galaxy May Have 20 Billion Earths (Science.Time.com)
" 'Taken together, these adjustments yielded the new 20 billion Earth-like planet estimate. 'I do have to add a note of caution,' says Petigura. 'These planets are only Earth-like in terms of their size and the amount of energy they receive from their stars. We don’t know if they have rocky compositions, oceans of water, plate tectonics or life.' "
"To answer the ultimate question of whether life exists beyond Earth, astronomers will have to go beyond statistics to identify an actual mirror Earth in our cosmic neighborhood, then scrutinize its atmosphere for gases like oxygen and methane, which could be telltale signs of biological activity. Those observations won’t be possible for years."
"But at least they know that they’re not looking for something so vanishingly rare we’d never be likely to stumble on it. The Milky Way is evidently teeming with balmy, Earth-size planets. And unless nature is far more perverse than anyone expects, there’s got to be life on at least some of them." 11-13
- -11-11-15 Exploring the End of the Universe (CNN News)
"As we thank Einstein for giving us a revolution in science, it might seem ironic that one of his mistakes could have an impact on that grandest question of all -- the ultimate fate of the universe itself." The author explains that the matter in the universe we can see makes up about 4.6% of all the universe. The rest is made up of dark energy and dark matter. Understanding dark matter is the key to predicting the ultimate fate of the universe. 11-15
- -11-12-13 Comet of the Century Tracker (Time.com)
"A spectacular cosmic sky show could be coming in the form of a mountain-sized comet. Hurtling toward us from billions of miles away, it will reach its fiery peak on Nov. 28, when it nears the sun. Here's a tool that can tell you exactly the path it's following—as well as the path of other comets that have come before." 11-13
- -11-12-14 Probe Lands on Comet (New York Times)
"On Wednesday, at 4:05 a.m. Eastern time, the 220-pound lander, named Philae, detached from the Rosetta spacecraft and was pulled downward by the gravity of the comet, known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Signals from Rosetta will take nearly 30 minutes to travel more than 300 million miles to mission control in Darmstadt, Germany." 11-14
- -11-12-14 Tyson Tweets About the Movie Interstellar (Time.com)
" 'Go back 150 years or so,' he says. 'That’s when Abe Lincoln established the NAS. It was meant to serve as a scientific advisory body for the betterment of the country—and it was created by a Republican. I don’t think any leader could get into trouble for saying "I may not be a scientist, but I’ve got advisers who are—and I’m going to listen to them." ' " 11-14
- -11-13-14 Probe Lands on Comet (Christian Science Monitor)
"Philae, the European Space Agency's little comet lander that could, has shown the world that a third landing – however unintended – is a charm."
"The craft is healthy and is returning data from the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko after sending mission scientists and controllers on an emotional roller coaster ride – one in which two key systems designed to help the craft anchor itself to the comet failed."
"Yet even accomplishing the 60-hour program would yield a bonanza of new information about comets – rubble left over from the dawn of the solar system. These objects are thought to be among the construction leftovers that delivered water and organic compounds to Earth, laying the foundation for life to emerge on Earth." 11-14
- -11-13-15 Water May Have Been on Earth From the Beginning (Christian Science Monitor)
"Scientists find clues in volcanic rocks that suggest the origins of Earth's water can be traced back to our planet's birth." 11-15
- -11-29-14 Rosetta Probe Lands on Comet (New York Times)
"The comet — known inelegantly as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko — is a small, irregular glob of ice, dust and rocks less than three miles across, with a boulder-strewn surface that has only a small number of spots suitable for landing."
"Rosetta has already scored two significant firsts. It is the first spacecraft to fly alongside and orbit a comet, not just fly by it, and it will stay close for more than a year to observe the comet as it goes from a quiescent state to an active emitter of gases as it draws closer to the sun. It will be the most sustained research ever conducted on one of these elusive bodies. Rosetta is also the first spacecraft to send an automated probe to the surface of a comet, allowing close study of its composition. Previous probes have landed on various planets, moons and asteroids."
"The flight presented formidable technical challenges. The spacecraft could not carry enough fuel for a direct journey, so it looped around Earth and Mars to gain speed before heading toward the comet’s orbital path. During its serpentine journey, Rosetta was forced to hibernate for two and a half years to conserve power."
The study had a number of mishaps and most of the findings from successes have not been revealed. However, it can be noted that "an instrument on the spacecraft came up with readings at odds with scientific speculation that comets like this one may have bombarded Earth with enough water over the ages to fill much of the oceans." 11-14
- -12-06-13 Enormous Alien Planet Discovered (NBC News)
"An enormous alien planet — one that is 11 times more massive than Jupiter — was discovered in the most distant orbit yet found around a single parent star.”
"The newfound exoplanet, dubbed HD 106906 b, dwarfs any planetary body in the solar system, and circles its star at a distance that is 650 times the average distance between the Earth and the sun. The existence of such a massive and distantly orbiting planet raises new questions about how these bizarre worlds are formed, the researchers said." 12-13
- -12-15-13 China Lands Probe on the Moon (Wall Street Journal)
"China on Saturday successfully landed its first unmanned lunar probe on the moon, in the latest milestone for the budding superpower's space ambitions."
"The official Xinhua news agency said on Saturday that the Chang'e-3 lunar probe landed on the surface of the moon shortly after 9 p.m. Beijing time. The probe includes the lander and a lunar rover called Yutu, or 'Jade Rabbit' in English." 12-13
- -12-15-13 Secret Second Code Found on DNA (Science.Time.com)
"A research team at the University of Washington has discovered a second code hidden within the DNA, written on top of the other."
"Whereas the first code describes how proteins are made, this second language instructs the cell on how genes are to be controlled. The discovery, published in Science on Friday, will enable improved diagnoses and treatments of disease." 12-13
- -12-21-14 World's Deepest Fish Found (ABC News)
"An underwater voyage has found an unidentified species of fish more than 5 miles down -- deeper than any other fish has ever been found before." 12-14
- -12-29-14 Pictures of Earth from Space (Time.com)
"Astronaut Alexander Gerst’s stunning images from space have been joined together to form a practically seamless timelapse video." 12-14
- -24-16 Deepest View Yet of the Universe (New Scientist)
" 'For the first time, we are properly connecting the visible and ultraviolet light view of the distant universe from Hubble and far-infrared/millimetre views of the universe from ALMA,' says Jim Dunlop at Edinburgh University, who describes it as a 'breakthrough result'."
" 'Through this, we discovered a population of galaxies that is not clearly evident in any other deep surveys of the sky,' says Chris Carilli at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in New Mexico.' " 09-16
- -25-16 Neanderthals Built Cave Circles 175,000 Years Ago (Newscientist.com)
"Scientists have found evidence of Neanderthal ability at symbolic thought, chemistry, medicine, cooking, and perhaps "some capacity for speech." 05-16
- -How Much Carbon Dioxide Is Too Much? (TruthOut.org)
"New work from the France, Japan and Great Britain institutes of sciences and meteorology have new modeling that reveals the true challenge of keeping warming below 2 degrees Celsius. Under the best case scenario, negative emissions of 135 percent of annual emissions are required. For the worst-case scenario that we are currently tracking, negative emissions of 210 percent of annual emissions are required."
"The US commitment at the UN Climate Conference that concluded this month in Paris was for 80 percent emissions reductions below 2005 levels by 2050. Commitments for developed nations under the Kyoto Protocol were 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. (4) The current US commitment is 27 percent less with a 30 year delayed target."
"Climate science is way out in front of climate policy." 12-15
- -New Analysis of 2 Million Years of Data Suggests Bad Outcome for Life on Earth (Nature.com)
"A comparison of the new temperature reconstruction with radiative forcing from greenhouse gases estimates an Earth system sensitivity of 9 degrees Celsius (range 7 to 13 degrees Celsius, 95 per cent credible interval) change in global average surface temperature per doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide over millennium timescales. This result suggests that stabilization at today’s greenhouse gas levels may already commit Earth to an eventual total warming of 5 degrees Celsius (range 3 to 7 degrees Celsius, 95 per cent credible interval) over the next few millennia as ice sheets, vegetation and atmospheric dust continue to respond to global warming."
Editor's Note: A simple statement of the author's conclusion is that if current greenhouse gas levels stay the same as they are now for the next few thousand years, we can expect that global temperatures may rise 5 dgrees Celsius. Most climatologists predict that a rise in global temperature of 5 degrees Celsius would be catastrophic. Also see Tipping Point09-16
- -New Discovery: Water "Everywhere" on Mars (Time.com)
"What jumps out of the analysis right away is that the soil—mostly sandy grains dug from a mound in a spot known as Rocknest, inside of Gale Crater —is the presence of water, which adds up to about two percent of the soil, by weight. 'If you took a cubic foot of this material and heated it,” says Leshin, 'You’d about get two pints of water. I think that’s pretty amazing.' "
"The amazing part isn’t so much that there’s water on Mars: scientists have known for years that the life-giving liquid flowed freely and abundantly across the Martian surface billions of years ago, and that water in the form of ice still exists in reasonable quantities at the planet’s poles. But these sandy particles were blown here from all over Mars before settling to the ground. This one sample, therefore, tells us that the water Leshin’s team found is spread pretty much everywhere on the planet. No matter where astronauts eventually land, they’ll be able to cook their water supplies right out of the dirt."
- 30-16 Ten Strange Things About the Universe (StumbleUpon.com)
"While groundbreaking ideas such as quantum theory, relativity and even the Earth going around the Sun might be commonly accepted now, science still continues to show that the universe contains things you might find it difficult to believe, and even more difficult to get your head around." 05-16
- Bizarre Sun Discovered (Time.com)
"The cosmos never stop serving up surprises. The latest is a red giant star with a chewy chocolate center—well, sort of."
"The nutty thing Levesque and three colleagues discovered looks like an ordinary red giant star, similar in appearance to Betelgeuse, which marks one of Orion’s shoulders. But nestled deep inside, like the yolk of an egg or the chocolate center of a hard-candy Tootsie Pop, is a neutron star—the super-dense remnant left behind when a star explodes. It is, she says, 'unlike any star that we’ve ever seen.' "06-14
- Breaking News in Astronomy (SpaceFlightNow.com)
Provides news key news stories.
- Finding: Modern Humans Were Chinese (Time.com)
"Taken together, the researchers write, the analyses of the teeth are 'the earliest and soundest evidence of definitely modern humans in southern China at least 80,000 years ago.' " 04-17
- Japanese Scientists to Name Element 113 (ABC News)
"A world scientific body says Japanese scientists have met the criteria for naming a new element, the synthetic highly radioactive element 113."
- New Findings on the Universe (PBS.org)
"Among the findings: The universe, at 13.8 billion years old, is about 100 million years older than previously thought, said Martin White, a U.S. Planck scientist from the University of California at Berkeley. It expanded more rapidly in the past than previously estimated, but expands more slowly today. There's less dark energy, more dark matter, and that dark matter is "clumpier" than previously thought. White said." 03-13
- News on Missions to Mars (NASA - Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
Provides news on missions to Mars, including two unmanned rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, landing in January 2004.
- Oldest Homo Sapiens Humans Found, Altering History (New York Times)
"Dating back roughly 300,000 years, the bones indicate that mankind evolved earlier than had been known, experts say, and open a new window on our origins."
"The fossils also show that early Homo sapiens had faces much like our own, although their brains differed in fundamental ways."
"Until now, the oldest fossils of our species, found in Ethiopia, dated back just 195,000 years. The new fossils suggest our species evolved across Africa." 06-17
- Science News (Awesome Library)
Provides news and articles by discipline in science.
- Science News (BBC News)
Provides news stories daily.
- Science News (Nature.com)
Provides refereed articles.
- Science News (ScienceDaily.com)
Provides current events in science and technology.
- Scientists Complete the 7th Row (Time.com)
"Four new elements have been added to the periodic table, finally rounding out the chemical table’s seventh row, officials said." 01-16
- Space Station and Shuttle (NASA Human Spaceflight - Dismukes and Humphries)
Provides news on events surrounding space stations and shuttles. 2-01
- Technology News (News.com.com)
Provides news on technology.
- $100 Million Search for Life on Other Planets (PBS.org)
"Recent findings by NASA’s Kepler space telescope have revealed at least 10 percent of the stars in our Milky Way Galaxy harbor planets of nearly Earth size at lukewarm temperatures."
" 'Technology allows much more sensitive searches than could be done before, and the latest instrumentation on the biggest telescopes will be able to hugely extend what’s been done,” said University of Cambridge cosmologist and astrophysicist Lord Martin Rees. “The chance of finding life has risen a billionfold when we realize that habitable planets aren’t rare, but there are literally billions of them in our galaxy.' " 07-15
- -01 Massive Reserve of Fresh Water Found Below Oceans (Science.Time.com)
"Scientists have discovered a massive reserve of freshwater trapped beneath the seabed that could provide water to the world’s coastal cities and mitigate the impact of a looming global water crisis, according to a new study."
"The undersea reserves have the potential to alleviate the impacts of freshwater scarcity on the planet, Post said, but the resource should be treated with care. Offshore oil and gas exploration or carbon sequestration activities could contaminate the aquifers, which are themselves a limited resource." 12-13
- -01-20-16 Planet Mystery and Extraterrestrial Life (ABC News)
" 'There is estimated to be in our galaxy alone a trillion planets. And we can see 100 billion galaxies,' Shostak said. 'It's believed that one in 10 stars may have a habitable world capable of supporting life.' " 01-16
- -30,000-Year-Old Virus Revived (BBC News)
"An ancient virus has 'come back to life' after lying dormant for at least 30,000 years, scientists say."
"It was found frozen in a deep layer of the Siberian permafrost, but after it thawed it became infectious once again."
"Prof Claverie warns that exposing the deep layers could expose new viral threats."
"He said: 'It is a recipe for disaster. If you start having industrial explorations, people will start to move around the deep permafrost layers. Through mining and drilling, those old layers will be penetrated and this is where the danger is coming from.' " 03-14
- -A Key to Life on Other Planets? (Time.com)
"What a team of scientists actually found, as described in a paper in Science, is what may be the oddest bacteria on Earth. These microbes live in hellish conditions in Mono Lake, a super-salty, alkaline, arsenic-rich body of water in eastern California that would be toxic to most organisms. But the new bug doesn't just thrive here: it uses arsenic in place of the standard phosphorus as a building block for its internal proteins and even its DNA — and nothing like that has ever been seen before."
"It's never been shown that other kinds of life are impossible, though. For decades, for example, biologists have wondered if silicon could take the place of carbon, the basis of all life on Earth, in forming self-reproducing, information-carrying molecules like DNA." 12-10
- -A New Planet Found Beyond the Galaxy (Time.com)
"HIP 13044, as it's unglamorously known, has a planet whirling around it — the first planet ever found from outside the Milky Way. Aside from its extra-galactic origin, the planet itself, found with a medium-size telescope at the European Southern Observatory in Chile, and described in a new paper in Science, isn't especially remarkable." 11-10
- -Asteroids Are Coming (Christian Science Monitor)
" 'While most large asteroids with the potential to destroy an entire country or continent have been detected, less than 10,000 of the more than a million dangerous asteroids with the potential to destroy an entire major metropolitan area have been found by all existing space or terrestrially operated observatories,' former NASA astronaut Ed Lu, who started the B612 Foundation in 2002 with fellow astronaut Rusty Schweickart and colleagues, said in a statement. 'Because we don't know where or when the next major impact will occur, the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a "city-killer" sized asteroid has been blind luck.' "
"The B612 Foundation is trying to build a privately funded infrared space telescope to find dangerous asteroids when they are still millions of miles away. This Sentinel Space Telescope mission would ideally give humans years to devise a plan to deflect killer space rocks, officials with the non-profit say. The organization is aiming for a 2018 launch." 12-14
- -Astronomers: Billions of "Earths" in Habitable Zone (CNN News)
If you're trying to count how many planets could be candidates for harboring life in our galaxy, this might blow your mind: Scientists now say there could be billions of them."
"Astronomers working with the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) HARPS instrument estimate that in our galaxy, there are tens of billions of rocky planets not so much bigger than Earth orbiting red dwarf stars within the habitable zones of those relatively cool stars. A habitable zone is the area in a star system where liquid water can exist on a planet's surface without boiling away or staying frozen." 03-12
- -Communicating Science to Kids (CenterforCommunicatingScience.org)
"Alan Alda, the Center for Communicating Science — and 11-year-olds around the country – are seeking answers from scientists to a timeless question: What is time?"
"That is the question for this year’s edition of the Flame Challenge, an international contest that asks scientists to communicate complex science in ways that interest and inform an 11-year-old. After screening for scientific accuracy, the entries will be judged by thousands of 11-year-olds in schools around the world. The winning scientists will be brought to New York to be honored in June at the World Science Festival." 12-12
- -Complicated Animal Societies Challenge our Views (BBC News)
"Blinded by the limits of our own imagination, historically we have found it difficult to envisage another entity [ocean mammals] with capabilities that rival our own."
"Acknowledging that at least some animals are 'beyond use' brings forward implications spanning philosophy, law, science and policy." 12-10
- -Direct Conversion of Stem Cells (CBS News)
"The new direct-conversion approach avoids embryonic stem cells and the whole notion of returning to an early state. Why not just go directly from one specialized cell to another? (It's like flying direct rather than scheduling a stopover.)" The direct-conversion of stem cells has resulted in "scientists converting mouse skin cells into nerve cells and heart muscle cells. And just this month came success with human cells, turning skin cells into early stage blood cells." 11-10
- -Evidence of Water Found on Mars (Time.com)
"Mars may be the solar system’s most tragic planet. It once had a dense atmosphere; it once fairly sloshed with water; just one of its oceans may have covered two-thirds of its northern hemisphere. With seasons very much like Earth’s, it could have been home to who knows what kinds of life." 09-15
- -Hawking: The Nature of Reality (Time.com)
"Though realism may be a tempting viewpoint, what we know about modern physics makes it a difficult one to defend. For example, according to the principles of quantum physics, which is an accurate description of nature, a particle has neither a definite position nor a definite velocity unless and until those quantities are measured by an observer. In fact, in some cases individual objects don't even have an independent existence but rather exist only as part of an ensemble of many." 09-10
- -New Alzheimer's Diagnostic Tool (Time.com)
"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the O.K. last Friday to a new radioactive dye that helps doctors scan the brain for Alzheimer’s disease."
"The dye, called Amyvid (florbetapir), made by Eli Lilly & Co., binds to the sticky amyloid proteins that build up in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s. The dye can be detected by using positron emission tomography, or PET scans."
"The test could allow doctors to diagnose Alzheimer’s much earlier and more accurately. In patients with symptoms of cognitive decline, the presence of amyloid would support an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The dye cannot be used alone to diagnose Alzheimer’s, however, especially not in people without symptoms because people with normal brain function may accumulate amyloid plaques as they age, and because the plaques can be associated with neurological conditions other than Alzheimer’s."
- -New: Big Climate Change Could Be Soon (TG Daily.com)
"New research from NASA into the Earth's paleoclimate history indicates we could be facing rapid climate change this century, including sea level rises of many meters."
According to Goddard Institute for Space Studies director James E Hansen, 'The paleoclimate record reveals a more sensitive climate than thought, even as of a few years ago. Limiting human-caused warming to two degrees is not sufficient,' he says. 'It would be a prescription for disaster.' " 12-11
- -Planet of the Humans, Not Apes (CNN News)
"The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates that there are at most 500,000 great apes left living in the wild—about the population of Fresno. (Great apes include gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and bonobos.) We've whittled down the populations of our simian cousins through deforestation—which destroys their habitat—and through hunting, including for meat. Even infectious disease is a major risk—it's thought that 25% of the world's gorilla population has died because of Ebola, a deadly fever that currently poses a much greater threat to apes than it does to us. The nonhuman primates look scary in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but in reality, our closest cousins are in deep trouble. 'The current reality of great ape populations is more of a tragedy than an action thriller,' says Richard Carroll, the head of WWF's Africa program and a gorilla expert. 'If we as humans can't protect our nearest living relatives, then we've failed as a species.' "
"Meanwhile, there are nearly 7 billion humans living on every corner of the planet. It wasn't always this way. More than 10,000 years ago, before the development of agriculture, there may well have been more apes than humans—and at the time, we may not have looked like a very good evolutionary bet. Now humans utterly dominate the world, leaving less and less room and resources for wild animals. The hot new term for our current geologic era is the Anthropocene, which reflects the fact that human beings—through carbon emissions, resource use and simple numbers—are now the major force on the planet, capable of changing the genome and the climate alike. It's still a Planet of the Humans—and that's still bad news for the apes." 08-11
- -Quantum Field Theory and Quantum Gravity (SimonFoundation.org)
"The revelation that particle interactions, the most basic events in nature, may be consequences of geometry significantly advances a decades-long effort to reformulate quantum field theory, the body of laws describing elementary particles and their interactions. Interactions that were previously calculated with mathematical formulas thousands of terms long can now be described by computing the volume of the corresponding jewel-like 'amplituhedron,' which yields an equivalent one-term expression."
"The new geometric version of quantum field theory could also facilitate the search for a theory of quantum gravity that would seamlessly connect the large- and small-scale pictures of the universe. Attempts thus far to incorporate gravity into the laws of physics at the quantum scale have run up against nonsensical infinities and deep paradoxes. The amplituhedron, or a similar geometric object, could help by removing two deeply rooted principles of physics: locality and unitarity." 09-13
- -Scaffolding of the Universe Uncovered (Christian Science Monitor)
"Scientists have long thought that threads of dark matter provide the underlying architecture upon which galaxies in the universe are distributed. A new study now verifies that theory."
"Three-dimensional astronomical maps developed since the late 1980s show that the vast majority of the universe's galaxies are distributed as threads and sheets that span the universe, with galaxy clusters as well as superclusters of thousands of galaxies appearing where threads and sheets intersect. These structures were thought to have formed on a framework of dark matter, the unseen form of matter that scientists believe binds galaxies together."
"The results announced Thursday mark 'the first time we have observationally verified this very important theoretical prediction' of a dark-matter backbone, says Jörg Dietrich, an astronomer at the University of Munich Observatory in Germany who led the team." 06-12
- -Scientists "See" the Instant After Time Began (Huffington Post)
" 'If verified, the discovery 'gives us a window on the universe at the very beginning,' when it was far less than one-trillionth of a second old, said theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss of Arizona State University, who was not involved in the work."
" 'It's just amazing,' he said. 'You can see back to the beginning of time.' " 03-14
- -Simulation Results: Temperature Rise Caused a Mass Extinction (BBC News)
"A computer simulation of the Earth's climate 250 million years ago suggests that global warming triggered the so-called 'great dying'."
"A dramatic rise in carbon dioxide caused temperatures to soar to 10 to 30 degrees Celsius higher than today, say US researchers."
"Some 95% of lifeforms in the oceans became extinct, along with about three-quarters of land species." 8-05
- -Study: Global Warming Is Stuck on Fast Forward (theGuardian.com)
"The widespread mainstream media focus on the slowed global surface warming has led some climate scientists like Trenberth and Fasullo to investigate its causes and how much various factors have contributed to the so-called 'pause' or 'hiatus.' However, the authors note that while the increase in global temperatures has slowed, the oceans have taken up heat at a faster rate since the turn of the century. Over 90 percent of the overall extra heat goes into the oceans, with only about 2 percent heating the Earth's atmosphere. The myth of the 'pause' is based on ignoring 98 percent of global warming and focusing exclusively on the one bit that's slowed.”
"Previous estimates put the amount of heat accumulated by the world's oceans over the past decade equivalent to about 4 Hiroshima atomic bomb detonations per second, on average, but Trenberth's research puts the estimate equivalent to more than 6 detonations per second." 12-13
- -Study: Social Animals Have Grown Larger Brains (ScienceDaily.com)
"Co-author and Director of ICEA Professor Robin Dunbar said: 'For the first time, it has been possible to provide a genuine evolutionary time depth to the study of brain evolution. It is interesting to see that even animals that have contact with humans, like cats, have much smaller brains than dogs and horses because of their lack of sociality.' "
- A First-Ever Malaria Vaccine (Time.com)
"A first-ever malaria vaccine tested in children in sub-Saharan Africa cut the risk of infection with malaria by about half — a remarkable achievement, considering there has never been a vaccine against a human parasite before, or against malaria, which infects millions of children each year." 12-11
- A Home on the Moon? (CNN News)
"Building a home near a moon crater or a lunar sea may sound nice, but moon colonists might have a much better chance of survival if they just lived in a hole."
"That's the message sent by an international team of scientists who say they've discovered a protected lunar 'lava tube' -- a deep, giant hole -- that might be well suited for a moon colony or a lunar base."
"The vertical hole, in the volcanic Marius Hills region on the moon's near side, is 213 feet wide and is estimated to be more than 260 feet deep, according to findings published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.More important, the scientists say, the hole is protected from the moon's harsh temperatures and meteorite strikes by a thin sheet of lava. That makes the tube a good candidate for further exploration or possible inhabitation, the article says." 01-10
- Advantages of the Middle-Age Brain (Time.com)
"A study in the British Medical Journal lit up the Internet last week with the conclusion that cognitive decline begins at age 45. While it’s true that some innate skills like memory and speed of reasoning fall off as we age, other aspects of intelligence related to learning and experience actually improve." 01-12
- Andromeda Galaxy Way Bigger Than Thought (CNN News)
"The discovery of several large, metal-poor stars located far from the center of the Andromeda galaxy suggests our nearest galactic neighbor might be up to five times larger than previously thought."
" 'We're typically used to thinking of Andromeda as this tiny speck of light, but the actual size of the halo...extends to a very large radius and it actually fills a substantial portion of the night sky,' said study team member Jason Kalirai of the University of California, Santa Cruz." 01-07
- Animals Use Tools (CNN News)
"For centuries, philosophers claimed that the ability to make tools separated man from beast."
"But in 1960, a young wildlife researcher named Jane Goodall told her boss,anthropologist Louis Leakey, that she'd witnessed chimpanzees stripping leaves from twigs and using them to 'fish' for termites."
"A stunned Leakey responded,'Now we must redefine tool, redefine Man, or accept chimpanzees as humans.' Of course, we now know that chimps were only the beginning." 04-10
- Astronomers Capture First Images of New Planets (CNN News)
"The first-ever pictures of planets outside our solar system were released today in two studies."
"According to the the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopedia, there have been 322 planets found outside our solar system. The latest findings bring that total to 326." 11-08
- Astronomers Find Most Distant Object (CBS News)
"Astronomers have spotted a burst of energy from a dying star, setting a record for the oldest and most distant object seen by Earth yet." 04-09
- Astronomers See "Near the Beginning of Time" (Time.com)
"The photo reveals thousands of galaxies billions of light-years away, stretching back almost to the time when the first stars began to shine. (The BBC has a more technical take, but basically: light from galaxies that far away takes billions of years to reach us, so when we see them we’re really looking back in time.) 'The XDF is the deepest image of the sky ever obtained and reveals the faintest and most distant galaxies ever seen,' Garth Illingworth of the University of California at Santa Cruz, principal investigator of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field 2009 program, said in a statement from NASA. 'XDF allows us to explore further back in time than ever before.' "
"The XDF is an update to an image compiled by Hubble in 2003 and 2004 called the 'Hubble Ultra Deep Field.' That picture collected enough light to reveal thousands of distant galaxies. At the time, it was the deepest view of the universe. The XDF goes even farther, capturing objects some 13.2 billion light-years away — meaning 13.2 billion years into the past. The universe itself is thought to be about 13.7 billion years old, meaning that the farthest galaxy found in the XDF existed just 450 million years after the big bang — a blink of an eye in cosmological terms." 09-12
- Black Hole Creates Its Own Galaxy (Wired.com)
“Astronomers have spied a distant black hole in the act of creating the galaxy that will eventually become its home." 07-10
- Blind Boy Learns to "See" With His Ears (CNN News)
"To 'see' the world around him, he clicks his tongue on the roof of his mouth and listens to the echo that bounces back. From the sound, he can make out the location, depth and shape of objects around him, allowing him to navigate even unfamiliar areas." 10-09
- Breakthrough Findings of New Worlds (Time.com)
"On Tuesday, a team of stargazers using the European Southern Observatory in the high Chilean desert announced they'd detected a system of at least five, and maybe as many as seven, planets circling a star known as HD 10180, about 127 light-years from Earth, in the direction of the constellation Hydrus. And just two days later, a paper appeared in Science trumpeting the discovery of a multiplanetary system circling a star called Kepler-9, 2,000 light-years away in the constellation Lyra. The latter solar system has only two or three worlds — but the space telescope that found it is so powerful that this discovery is just a hint of the other worlds and other solar systems it may discover in the next few months."
"Both detections are scientific tours de force in different ways. In the first, scientists found the planets indirectly, by noting how HD 10180 is being tugged back and forth by a swarm of circling planets. That's how the first extrasolar planets were found in the mid-1990s, but the effect is so subtle that doing a clear analysis of the mass and orbit of even a single planet is tough. Untangling multiple, independent, overlapping sets of wobbles is excruciatingly hard." 08-10
- Changes in Social Status Seen in Genes of Monkeys (New York Times)
"Social stress is known to have adverse health effects on both humans and primates."
"Now, researchers report that it also affects the immune system of female rhesus macaques at the genetic level."
- Cognitive Decline May Start at 45 (Time.com)
"A new study of British civil servants shows that cognitive skills such as memory and reasoning are already declining, typically, among people as young as 45." 01-12
- Companies Plan to Mine Precious Metals in Space (CNN News)
" 'There is clear evidence of significant platinum group metals on the moon from Apollo samples and lunar meteorites, and we've discovered evidence for localized hotspots that will help us choose landing sites to practice mining techniques,' Alan Stern, the chief scientist at Moon Express, said in a press release." 04-12
- DNA Kits Available to Learn Our Own Ancestry (PBS.org)
"With advances in DNA technology, researchers are learning more about the origins and diversity of humans, allowing companies to offer DNA test kits and analysis for people who want to learn more about their ancestry." 07-07
- Distant Planet Viewed Directly (Time.com)
"In an upcoming paper in the Astrophysical Journal, three observers confirm that they've photographed a planet orbiting a sun-like star known as 1RXS 1609, about 500 light-years, or nearly three quadrillion miles, from Earth, in the constellation Scorpius." 07-10
- Distant Planet-Like Object Viewed Directly, a First (Time.com)
"Astronomers have been finding planets around distant stars for more than a decade now, and the count is currently around 400. But the vast majority of these so-called exoplanets have been seen indirectly — by their gravitational effects or by the dimming caused when they pass in front of their parent stars. To really understand what a planet is like in detail, you have to see it directly, and that's incredibly hard to do with today's technology."
"But an international team has done it." 12-09
- Editorial: One Giant Leap to Nowhere (New York Times)
"NASA’s annual budget sank like a stone [after reaching the moon] from $5 billion in the mid-1960s to $3 billion in the mid-1970s. It was at this point that NASA’s lack of a philosopher corps became a real problem. The fact was, NASA had only one philosopher, Wernher von Braun."
"It’s been a long time, but I remember him saying something like this: Here on Earth we live on a planet that is in orbit around the Sun. The Sun itself is a star that is on fire and will someday burn up, leaving our solar system uninhabitable. Therefore we must build a bridge to the stars, because as far as we know, we are the only sentient creatures in the entire universe. When do we start building that bridge to the stars? We begin as soon as we are able, and this is that time. We must not fail in this obligation we have to keep alive the only meaningful life we know of." 07-09
- Editorial: The Absurd Divide Between Pure and Applied Research (New York Timesr)
"These transcendent figures in the history of science flourished by moving back and forth between pure and applied problems. In today’s more specialized world, there are numerous artificial divisions between pure and applied work: different departments, different professional societies, and different journals. The stereotyped view is that the applied scientists control the lion’s share of funding, while the basic scientists control the most prestigious journals and prizes. The reality is more complicated and lies somewhere in between."
"What remains true is that practical problems can be equally compelling as fundamental ones, and often lead in turn to the discovery of new fundamental science. In particular, there is an intimate connection between the invention of new technology and its application to scientific discovery." 02-09
- Efforts to Treat Diseases from Genome Research Results Are Frustrated (New York Times)
"As more people have their entire genomes decoded, the roots of genetic disease may eventually be understood, but at this point there is no guarantee that treatments will follow. If each common disease is caused by a host of rare genetic variants, it may not be susceptible to drugs." 06-10
- Evolution of the Universe (NASA)
"The myriad galaxies in the Hubble Deep Field represented the first big step for Hubble astronomers to understand galaxy evolution. But studying galaxy evolution in the Hubble Deep Field is like trying to understand the population of a country by sampling a small village. Astronomers don't know if the galaxies in that village are representative of the universe's galactic population. The GOODS survey, on the other hand, is akin to sampling the population of a large city to make inferences about galaxies in the cosmos." 6-03
- Explosion from Near the Beginning of the Cosmos? (Time.com)
"A group of researchers claim they've found the most distant explosion ever detected, a pulse of high energy radiation sent by a disintegrating star near the very edge of the observable universe."
"The stellar blast was first spotted by a NASA satellite in April 2009, but researchers announced Wednesday that they have since gathered data placing it more than 13 billion light years away — meaning that the event took place when the universe was still in its infancy."
"Not only are gamma ray bursts more powerful than supernovae, they're faster too — typically lasting only a few seconds or minutes."
"Charles Meegan, a NASA researcher in gamma ray astronomy, said that a typical burst 'puts out in a few seconds the same energy expended by the sun in its whole 10 billion year life span.' "
Editor's Note: Wow. 05-11
- Extinction 200 Million Years Ago (CNN)
Describes a very rapid mass extinction of life on earth 200 million years ago. 5-01
- Genes of 4,000-Year-Old Man Decoded (New York Times)
"The genome of a man who lived on the western coast of Greenland some 4,000 years ago has been decoded, thanks to the surprisingly good preservation of DNA in a swatch of his hair so thick it was originally thought to be from a bear."
"This is the first time the whole genome of an ancient human has been analyzed, and it joins the list of just eight whole genomes of living people that have been decoded so far." 05-09
- Graphene Is the World's Strongest Material (CNET.com)
"Besides being the hardest substance in the world -- 300 times stronger than steel -- graphene has all sorts of other noteworthy qualities. It is also the thinnest object ever obtained by man -- measuring just one atom thick -- and the lightest. It is made of a 2D crystal and looks a bit like scotch tape, only infinitely thinner. Graphene is also transparent, bendable, and a far better conductor than copper." 01-13
- HIV Treatment As Prevention (Time.com)
"The treatment of HIV has come a long way, thanks to antiretroviral (ARV) drugs that can lower levels of the virus in the body, keeping people healthy and reducing the risk of HIV transmission. Increasingly, though, studies have also shown that the same drugs used to treat existing infections can also help protect HIV-free people from becoming infected." 12-11
- Has the Majority of the "Missing" Mass of the Universe Been Found? (Time.com)
"As you might have heard if you pay attention to these things (and will be distressed to learn if you don’t) up to 80% of the matter in the universe is simply missing. The Milky Way spins so fast it would fly apart if the gravity of some invisible matter weren’t holding it together. Clusters of galaxies, buzzing around one another like angry bees, would similarly fragment and disperse. And when you run the gravitational numbers, the mysterious matter that keeps all that cosmic disintegration from happening should outweigh the familiar stuff by about four-to-one."
"Just as researchers working at Europe‘s Large Hadron Collider last year announced that they had bagged the Higgs Boson, so did investigators this week reveal that they’ve found compelling evidence for a type of theorized particle known as a WIMP—for weakly interacting massive particle—and that at least one form of it may be the dark quarry they’ve been hunting for 80 years." 04-13
- Hawking Is Wrong: Finding Extraterrestrial Life Is Not Dangerous (Discovery.com)
"I’ve mulled over these warnings and have converged on what I think are some simple truths, from a purely astronomical perspective. The bottom line is that I'm not losing any sleep worrying about awaking one morning to see an alien mothership hovering over Washington D.C." 05-10
- Hawking: Finding Extraterrestrial Life May Be Dangerous (CBS News)
"If E.T. phones, hang up."
"That's the implication from British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, who said that while extraterrestrial life almost certainly exists, it could be dangerous for humans to interact with them." 04-10
- Higgs Boson Nearly Confirmed (USA Today)
"Scientists believe the 'God particle' that might explain the underpinnings of the universe is real, and they are about to present their evidence to the world."
"The focus of the excitement is the Higgs boson, a subatomic particle that, if confirmed, could help explain why matter has mass, which combines with gravity to give an object weight." 07-12
- High School Student Finds a Possible Cure for Cancer (CBS News)
"Angela's idea was to mix cancer medicine in a polymer that would attach to nanoparticles -- nanoparticles that would then attach to cancer cells and show up on an MRI. so doctors could see exactly where the tumors are. Then she thought shat if you aimed an infrared light at the tumors to melt the polymer and release the medicine, thus killing the cancer cells while leaving healthy cells completely unharmed."
"It'll take years to know if it works in humans -- but in mice -- the tumors almost completely disappeared." 01-12
- Hobbit-Sized Ancient Humans Found (ABC News)
"Subsequent finds of other similarly sized, 3-foot-tall humans with brains the size of grapefruits in a cave on the Indonesian island of Flores suggest these 18,000-year-old specimens weren't a quirk of an ancient hominin, but part of an entire species of miniature people whose existence overlapped with that of modern Homo sapiens."
"Brown and the other authors suggest that the newly found species, named Homo floresiensis, arrived on the island of Flores, in Indonesia's Nusa Tenggara region, in the form of Homo erectus, the first large-brained hominin that emerged some 2 million years ago in Africa and Asia." 10-04
- How We Can Improve Our Brain (HowLifeWorks.com)
"Neuroscientists are increasingly showing that there's actually a lot that can be done. It turns that the brain needs exercise in much the same way our muscles do, and the right mental workouts can significantly improve our basic cognitive functions. Thinking is essentially a process of making neural connections in the brain. To a certain extent, our ability to excel in making the neural connections that drive intelligence is inherited. However, because these connections are made through effort and practice, scientists believe that intelligence can expand and fluctuate according to mental effort." 02-13
- How the Universe Started (Time.com)
"But thanks to the aging but still-vibrant Hubble, the veil of over the distant past is at least starting to part. A team of observers led by Caltech’s Richard Ellis just announced that they have discovered seven galaxies dating from as early as 350 million years post-Big Bang. 'This is the deepest archaeological dig into the universe we’ve ever had,' said Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb at a press conference." 12-12
- Hubble Shows that the Universe's Expansion Is Speeding Up (Telegraph.co.uk)
"The expansion of the Universe is speeding up – proving once again that Einstein's theory of relativity is correct - according to astronomers who studied hundreds of thousands of galaxies." 04-10
- Hubble Survey Finds Missing Matter (HubbleSite.org)
"Although the universe contains billions of galaxies, only a small amount of its matter is locked up in these behemoths. Most of the universe's matter that was created during and just after the Big Bang must be found elsewhere."
"Now, in an extensive search of the local universe, astronomers say they have definitively found about half of the missing normal matter, called baryons, in the spaces between the galaxies. This important component of the universe is known as the 'intergalactic medium,' or IGM, and it extends essentially throughout all of space, from just outside our Milky Way galaxy to the most distant regions of space observed by astronomers."
"Astronomers caution that the missing baryonic matter is not to be confused with 'dark matter,' a mysterious and exotic form of matter that is only detected via its gravitational pull." 06-08
- Importance of Water on the Moon (CNN News)
"An announcement in November probably rivaled Neil Armstrong's first steps on the surface more than 40 years earlier: There's water on the moon."
"The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or L-CROSS, and its companion spacecraft crashed into a crater at the moon's south pole in October and discovered water in a very dark and very cold place. L-CROSS researchers said about 25 gallons of water were detected in the crater, which measured about 60 feet wide by a few feet deep."
" 'We used to think of the moon as this really dead and unchanging place, that the moon was a dead planet. ... There are changes that occur there not over the course of thousands or millions or even billions of years, but are changing over the course of days and weeks and months. That's something people just hadn't thought of until just weeks and months ago. ... This isn't your grandfather's moon anymore.' " 12-09
- Important Transitional Fossil Found (Time.com)
"The fossil is so perfectly preserved because Ida probably died quickly and nonviolently; her resting place was an abandoned quarry called the Messel Pit, near Frankfurt."
"The second reason the discovery is so important is its age. Ida — her scientific name is Darwinius masillae — dates to about 47 million years ago, when temperatures were warmer than they are today and when mammals underwent a burst of evolutionary diversification. In particular, that's when primates began splitting off into two branches. One became anthropoids, whose descendants are monkeys, apes and humans. The other turned into prosimians — lemurs and their kin."
"Ida is intriguing because she has some characteristics of both branches, which suggests that she could be a transitional animal that gave rise to the anthropoids and, ultimately, to us." 05-09
- India Discovers Water on the Moon (ABC News)
"India's newspapers are filled with headlines about its first lunar mission's Chandrayan-1 discovering water on the moon." 09-09
- Invisibility Thread Invented (MSNBC News)
"It no longer belongs to the wizarding world of Harry Potter: A scientist at the University of Texas at Dallas has created his own invisibility cloak."
"His 'cloak' right now is small -- several strands of what look like thread." 11-11
- Key Link in Human Evolution? (Time.com)
"Evolution skeptics like to trot out the argument that if Darwin had been right, scientists would have discovered transitional fossils by now — creatures with a mix of features from earlier and later species. Since they haven't, the deniers say, evolution must not be true."
"The truth is that paleontologists have found transitional species by the score, from many different time periods. But none have materialized from as crucial a point in our evolutionary past as a pair of skeletons whose discovery was announced today by the journal Science"
"The fossils, which have been determined to be a new species, Australopithecus sediba, were initially found by Matthew Berger, the 9-year-old son of paleontologist Lee Berger of South Africa's University of the Witwatersrand (the elder Berger tried in vain to get the editors of Science to list Matthew as a co-author on the paper). The bones belong to a pre-teenage boy and a woman estimated to be in her late 20s or early 30s; the individuals died at about the same time, and before their remains had fully decomposed, they were entombed in an avalanche of sediment and nearly perfectly preserved deep in the Malapa cave north of Johannesburg, South Africa." 04-10
- Landmark Experiment Confirms Space-Time Vortex Around the Earth (PC World)
"In order to test Einstein’s theory, scientists sent a spinning gyroscope to orbit around the Earth. Space and time are melded together into something like a four-dimensional quilt (don't try making one at home), aptly called space-time. The Earth applies weight to this quilt, causing an indentation 'much like a heavy person sitting in the middle of a trampoline.' Gravity, then, is the path an object takes following the curve of that indentation."
"Einstein theorized that the Earth’s rotation then causes that indentation to twist into a four dimensional swirl. With the axis of the gyroscope’s spin pointed at a fixed object (like a star), the Theory of Relativity indicates that without that swirl (or its 'frame-dragging effect') it would remain that way indefinitely, but with it the axis should drift out of alignment over time. The Gravity Probe B showed that Einstein was right, as the axis did in fact stray."
"The experiment resulted in calculations exactly as Einstein predicted. The Gravity Probe B Mission will go down in history as one of the greatest physics experiments of all time. Clifford Will, who chairs an independent panel of the National Research Council tasked with monitoring and reviewing the results of the Gravity Probe B Mission said, 'this will be written up in textbooks as one of the classic experiments in the history of physics.' " 05-11
- Large Hadron Collider (LHC) Completed (Time.com)
"Scientists believe the LHC's results will help fill in gaps in the Standard Model, the far-reaching set of equations on the interaction of subatomic particles that is the closest that modern physics comes to a testable 'theory of everything.' For example, scientists believe the LHC will produce a particle, the Higgs Boson, that will end debate over how matter in the universe acquires mass. Or, it could even provide evidence for more ambitious theories of the universe, such as string theory, which unites quantum mechanics and general relativity, the previously known laws of the small and large that are currently incompatible in the Standard Model." 09-08
- Largest Survey of Ocean Life Is Completed (Wall Street Journal)
"The census is part of a wider push by scientists to create free, online digital libraries of biological data about life on earth. The marine data, for example, will feed into the Encyclopedia of Life project, an effort to document all 1.8 million named species on earth. There's also an International Barcode of Life project assembling DNA barcodes for all multi-cellular organisms."
"Scientists intend to use such digital libraries to study biodiversity on a planet-wide level, just as different types of meteorological data are pooled and used to predict weather. Spurring the efforts is a new field known as biodiversity informatics, which uses sophisticated computer techniques to sift and analyze data in novel ways."
"Since it began, data from the marine census has yielded some 2,700 scientific papers. One significant study published July, in the journal Nature, found a strong link between rising sea temperatures and the decline of marine algae, the basis of the oceans' food chain. Another census-based study in Nature found that warmer seas can hurt marine diversity, potentially rearranging the global distribution of ocean life." 10-10
- Life Found in Very Extreme Conditions (Time.com)
"If (relatively) complex life can thrive miles below our feet, it's at least plausible that it lives in similar conditions elsewhere in the cosmos — particularly within Mars, where organisms might have retreated when the environment above grew deadly, just as the Halicephalobus percolated down below after first living on the surface. And that means the search for alien life is a lot more wide open than anyone would have imagined just a few years ago." 06-11
- Light Captured from the First Stars in the Universe (MSNBC News)
"Astronomers have spotted light from the very first stars in the universe, which are almost as old as time itself." 11-12
- Living to 1000? (Time.com)
"TIME's three-day forum on the Future of Life ended on a note of extravagant promises about a coming century of startling advances — in personalized medicine, including life spans well beyond 100 years, increasingly smart computer programs that will emulate biological processes, new genetically engineered sources of energy and outreaches into space that will take both humans and robots far from their home planet." 02-10
- Longest Solar Eclipse of the Century (MSNBC News)
"Hordes of scientists, students and nature enthusiasts prepared Tuesday for the longest total solar eclipse of this century, while millions planned to shutter themselves indoors, giving in to superstitious myths about the phenomenon."
"Wednesday's eclipse will first be sighted at dawn in India's Gulf of Khambhat, just north of the metropolis of Mumbai, before being seen in a broad swath moving north and east to Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan and China." 07-09
- Mammalian Ancestors of Humans Found (Time.com)
"Mammals have been around for hundreds of millions of years, but placentals for only tens of millions. Now a new paper just published in Science purports to pinpoint their, or rather, our, origins with impressive specificity. The great-great grandfather of us all, argue the authors, was a small, scurrying, insect-nibbling creature that arose a mere 200,000 to 400,000 years after the cataclysmic extinction event 65 million years ago that wiped out the dinosaurs (or, more precisely, the non-avian dinosaurs, since birds are now considered the one branch of the dinosaur family that survived)."
"This may seem like just a number to you and me but for paleontologists and evolutionary biologists, it’s something of a bombshell." 02-13
- Measuring the Universe (MSNBC News)
"How far away is that galaxy? The more precise your answer is, the more you can find out about mysterious dark energy. In the past, astronomers have used variable stars and a special kind of supernova to make their distance estimates - and now two new measuring sticks are being added to the toolbox." 06-09
- Memories Have "Plasticity" (ScienceDaily.com)
"Dissecting the mechanisms behind emotional memory is important because the region of the brain that governs this also controls fear and anxiety. That is why an emotional memory, such as a traumatic car accident, can activate the autonomic nervous system, causing bodily responses like an increase in heart rate, sweating and blood pressure -- even if you don't realize it." 01-07
- Moon Has Vast Amounts of Water (ABC News)
Analysis of results of a study shows that the moon has billions of gallons of water, enough to set up a colony there. 10-10
- Moon or Mars? (CNN News)
"When humans are ready to go, the agency envisions seven-day missions at first, followed by 180-day stays once a lunar outpost is in place."
" 'We're not doing flags and footsteps,' Olson said. 'We're going for a long-term sustained human presence that's affordable and safe and built so that we can use the moon as a stepping stone to Mars and near-Earth asteroids and other exciting locations in the solar system.' "
"A potential manned mission to the Red Planet wouldn't take place until at least 2030, Olson added."
"Is it the right way to go? Critics say NASA should skip the moon and set its sights directly on Mars." 07-09
- Most Distant (Known) Galaxy (MSNBC News)
"Astronomers have confirmed that an incredibly faint galaxy in the constellation Fornax is the most distant known object in the universe, shining more than 13 billion light-years away and reflecting an era when stars were just beginning to emerge from a cosmic fog." 10-10
- Music Training May Increase Memory in Children (CBS News)
"Researchers have found that not only did the brains of young, musically trained children respond differently to hearing music, but musical training also appeared to improve the children's memories over the course of a year." 09-06
- NASA Working on Spaceship Concept to Travel to the Stars (Techland.Time.com)
"Don’t expect to go Alpha Centauri-hopping any time soon, but the idea well down the road, according to a presentation delivered by White on the subject last year, would involve a spacecraft leaving Earth, traveling a given distance using conventional propulsion, stopping (relative to the Earth), enabling its “warp field,” then traveling to a point near its interstellar destination, where it would then disable the field and continue on its way using conventional propulsion methods once more."
"Instead of taking 'decades or centuries,' White says this would allow us to visit a spot like Alpha Centauri — a little over four light years from us — in as little as 'weeks or months.' " 09-12
- Neanderthal DNA Genes Decoded (MSNBC News)
"Humans and their close Neanderthal relatives began diverging from a common ancestor about 700,000 years ago, and the two groups split permanently some 300,000 years later, according to two of the most detailed analyses of Neanderthal DNA to date."
"In popular imagination, Neanderthals are often portrayed as prehistoric brutes who became outsmarted by a more advanced species, humans, emerging from Africa. But excavations and anatomical studies have shown that Neanderthals used tools, wore jewelry, buried their dead, cared for their sick, and possibly sang or even spoke in much the same way that we do. Even more humbling, perhaps, their brains were slightly larger than ours." 11-06
- New Clues in Mass Death of Bees (Time.com)
"In late 2006, something strange began to happen to America's honeybees. Colonies that were once thriving suddenly went still, almost overnight. The worker bees that make hives run simply disappeared, their bodies never to be found. Over the past couple of years, nearly one-third of all honeybee colonies have collapsed this way, which led to a straightforward name for the phenomenon: colony collapse disorder (CCD)."
- New Group of Ancient Humans Discovered (BBC News)
"Scientists say an entirely separate type of human identified from bones in Siberia co-existed and interbred with our own species."
"The ancient humans have been dubbed Denisovans after the caves in Siberia where their remains were found." 12-10
- New Signs of Duplicate Earths (Science.Time.com)
"Every week, it seems, astronomers announce a revolutionary exoplanet discovery — two plausibly habitable worlds orbiting a single star, for example, or a single planet orbiting two stars, or a planet no bigger than our Moon or an exoplanet right next door in the Alpha Centauri system. Each one is important in its own way, but the scientists also know that focusing exclusively on single discoveries is like looking at the individual pixels on a screen and ignoring the larger picture they’re painting. Now and again, therefore, they take a step back and consider what they can learn from everything they’ve found so far. The result can be a real eye-opener." 05-13
- Oldest Animal Discovered (BBC News)
"A clam dredged up off the coast of Iceland is thought to have been the longest-lived animal discovered."
"Scientists said the mollusc, an ocean quahog clam, was aged between 405 and 410 years and could offer insights into the secrets of longevity." 10-07
- Oldest Galaxy Ever Found (Time.com)
"The newly discovered star cluster — a hundred times smaller than our own Milky Way — was formed just 480 million years after the 13.7 billion year-old universe itself was born, making it easily the oldest galaxy ever found." 01-11
- Only 10% of Life on Earth Discovered (MSNBC News)
"“We’ve only touched the surface of understanding animal life,” said entomologist Brian Fisher of the California Academy of Sciences. 'We’ve discovered just 10 percent of all living things on this planet.' " 08-07
- Our Galaxy Is Rich in Earth-Sized Planets (CNN News)
"Since the time of Nicolaus Copernicus five centuries ago, people have wondered whether there are other planets like Earth in the universe. Today scientists are closer than ever to an answer -- and it appears to be that the Milky Way galaxy is rich in Earth-sized planets, according to astronomer Dimitar Sasselov." 08-10
- Plant, 32,000 Years Old, Yields Life (StarTribune.com)
"Living plants have been generated from the fruit of a little arctic flower, the narrow-leafed campion, that died 32,000 years ago, a team of Russian scientists reports. The fruit was stored by an arctic ground squirrel in its burrow on the tundra of northeastern Siberia and lay permanently frozen until excavated by scientists a few years ago." 02-12
- Potentially Habitable Planet Found (CBS News)
"A potentially habitable alien planet — one that scientists say is the best candidate yet to harbor water, and possibly even life, on its surface — has been found around a nearby star.The planet is located in the habitable zone of its host star, which is a narrow circumstellar region where temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist on the planet's surface." 02-12
- Really Smart Blocks (Time.com)
"Think of Cubelets as robotic building blocks that behave differently depending on how you assemble them, like a simple form of programming where you just snap functions together to get results." 01-12
- Science: How Did Life Begin? (Time.com)
"The molecule was not alive, at least not in any conventional sense. Yet its behavior was astonishingly lifelike. When it appeared last April at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, scientists thought it had spoiled their experiment. But this snippet of synthetic rna -- one of the master molecules in the nuclei of all cells -- proved unusually talented. Within an hour of its formation, it had commandeered the organic material in a thimble-size test tube and started to make copies of itself. Then the copies made copies. Before long, the copies began to evolve, developing the ability to perform new and unexpected chemical tricks. Surprised and excited, the scientists who witnessed the event found themselves wondering, Is this how life got started?" 06-10
- Scientists Create First Artificial Genome (ABC News)
"It may not quite be 'Frankenstein,' but for the first time scientists have created an organism controlled by completely manmade DNA."
"Using the tools of synthetic biology, scientists from the J. Craig Venter Institute installed a completely artificial genome inside a host cell without DNA. Like the bolt of lightening that awakened Frankenstein, the new genome invigorated the host cell, which began to grow and reproduce, albeit with a few problems." 05-10
- Scientists Create a New Element (CBS News)
"Scientists in Japan think they've finally created the elusive element 113, one of the missing items on the periodic table of elements."
The first synthetic element was created in 1940, and so far 20 different elements have been made. All of these are unstable and last only seconds, at most, before breaking apart into smaller elements. 09-12
- Scientists Identify Gene for Spread of Cancer (CBS News)
"Scientists in England say they have identified the gene that is responsible for cancer's spread through the body - raising the possibility of a 'one-size-fits-all' cure for the disease by developing a drug that switches off the gene.Most deaths from cancer result from its gradual metastasis, or spreading, from the original cancer site to other tissues and organs." 01-11
- Scientists: The Moon Has Significant Water (USA Today)
" 'There's water, and it is not just a little water, but significant amounts,' says NASA's Anthony Colaprete, chief science investigator for the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS)." 11-09
- Skydiver Breaks the Speed of Sound (CBS News)
"Extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner landed gracefully on Earth after a 24-mile jump Sunday from the stratosphere in a daring, dramatic feat that officials said made him the first skydiver to fall faster than the speed of sound."
"Brian Utley, a jump observer from the International Federation of Sports Aviation, said preliminary figures show Baumgartner reached a maximum speed of 833.9 mph. That amounts to Mach 1.24, which is faster than the speed of sound. No one has ever reached that speed wearing only a high-tech suit." 10-12
- Software Emulates Lifespan of Entire Organism (New York Times)
"For medical researchers and biochemists, simulation software will vastly speed the early stages of screening for new compounds. And for molecular biologists, models that are of sufficient accuracy will yield new understanding of basic cellular principles." 07-12
- Solar Flares Will Cause Disruptions (CNN News)
"On Thursday, the sun unleashed a massive solar flare (see video of the flare and how its effects have been moving toward Earth). Solar flares can disrupt radio communications, including devices that use Global Positioning System technology, such as cell phones, airplanes and car navigation systems."
"This is one of a series of recent bouts of severe space weather, as the solar cycle approaches solar maximum in 2013. Other major flares came in February and June, and more may follow. A good place to follow solar activity is SpaceWeather.com." 08-11
- Solar Shield to Protect the Power Grid (PC World)
"NASA’s plan is a simple one: Solar Shield is a detection system designed to see an ejection from the sun 24-48 hours in advance. Scientists will calculate trajectory and speed of the storm in that time, and when it’s 30 minutes or so from hitting a particular area, they’ll be able to warn the power company to shut down the grid. Without an active current in the grid, no damage will be caused when the storm hits, it’ll just be pretty lights in the sky." 05-11
- Speed of Light May Still Be the Limit (CNN News)
"The contemporary understanding of how the universe works is based on Albert Einstein’s 1905 Special Theory of Relativity, which says the speed of light is a constant that cannot be exceeded - it's the universe's speed limit. To go beyond it would be to look back in time, the late German physicist said."
"Scientists at OPERA – which stands for Oscillation Project with Emulsion-Racking Apparatus – were surprised last year to find that tiny particles called neutrinos were arriving at their destination faster than expected. They were tasked with tracking tiny particles as they soar through 730 kilometers of solid rock between a particle accelerator at CERN in Geneva and the Gran Sasso underground laboratory in Italy."
"But experts at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva said Thursday that their possible discovery might have been tainted by loose wiring." 02-12
- Spider 49 Million Years Old Found in Amber (FoxNews.com)
"The latest computer-imaging technology has produce this stunning three-dimensional picture of a spider trapped for 49 million years in an opaque piece of fossilized amber resin." 05-11
- Stunning New Close-Ups of Mars (CNN News)
"What would you see if you could fly over Mars in a plane and look out the window?"
"It must be something like the thousands of curious, intriguing and spectacular images taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera mounted on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter." 09-09
- Super-Smasher Targets Mysteries of the Universe (MSNBC News)
"It will take months for the machine to reach full power. But eventually, those protons will be whipped up to 99.999999 percent of the speed of light, slamming together with the energy of two bullet trains colliding head-on. Underground detectors as big as cathedrals will track the subatomic wreckage on a time scale of billionths of a second. Billions of bits of data will be sent out every second for analysis."
"As big as the numbers surrounding the LHC are, the mysteries it was built to address are bigger:"
"What was the newborn universe made of?"
"What causes things to have mass?"
"Why is most of that mass hidden?"
"Where did all the antimatter go?"
"Is our entire universe a mere sliver of all that is?" 09-08
- Survival of the Weakest: Why Neanderthals Went Extinct (Newsweek.com)
"Because Neanderthals were not adept at tracking herds on the tundra, they had to retreat with the receding woodlands. They made their last stand where pockets of woodland survived, including in a cave in the Rock of Gibraltar. There, Finlayson and colleagues discovered in 2005, Neanderthals held on at least 2,000 years later than anywhere else before going extinct, victims of bad luck more than any evolutionary failings, let alone any inherent superiority of their successors." 07-09
- The "Replication Gap" in Science (New York Times)
"One of the great strengths of science is that it can fix its own mistakes. 'There are many hypotheses in science which are wrong,' the astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said. 'That’s perfectly all right: it’s the aperture to finding out what’s right. Science is a self-correcting process.' ”
"If only it were that simple."
Actually, the author claims, scientists are typically slow to correct incorrect conclusions through the use of replications.
"Why? One simple answer is that it takes a lot of time to look back over other scientists’ work and replicate their experiments. Scientists are busy people, scrambling to get grants and tenure. As a result, papers that attract harsh criticism may nonetheless escape the careful scrutiny required if they are to be refuted."
"Even when scientists rerun an experiment, and even when they find that the original result is flawed, they still may have trouble getting their paper published. The reason is surprisingly mundane: journal editors typically prefer to publish groundbreaking new research, not dutiful replications." 06-11
- The Mystery of the Intergalactic Radio Bursts (Time.com)
"Using the giant Parkes radio telescope in Australia, astronomers have recorded four more of these mysterious bursts, and when the scientists extrapolated across the entire sky, they concluded that perhaps 10,000 of these blasts are popping off every day, all over the heavens. 'It’s still a mystery what they are,' says lead author Dan Thornton, of the University of Manchester, in the U.K. 'But at least it’s not a mystery that they exist.' In fact, Thornton and his co-authors claim that the observations reveal what he calls a 'new cosmological population' of energy blasts, whose true nature is unknown." 07-13
- The Very First Stars (Time.com)
"Astronomers have a pretty good idea how the universe took shape following the Big Bang — with one glaring exception. About 400,000 years after the great detonation itself, as the super-heated particles it created cooled and formed into atoms, the entire universe went black. A few hundred million years later, the darkness began to lift as the first stars congealed from clouds of cosmic gas. 'The universe,' says Voker Bromm, of the University of Texas at Austin, 'underwent a crucial transition from a very simple state into a state of ever more complex structure.' "
"Scientists used high-energy radiation from blazars to measure the light from the first stars." 11-12
- Two New Elements Added to Periodic Table (Time.com)
"Sadly, they don't have names yet, according to the AP. So for now, we'll just have to call them #114 and #116 (numbers which refer to the number of protons in their nuclei and which give them their unique boxes on the table). We know that they last for less than a second, and that "the new elements were made by slamming two lighter elements together in the hopes that they'd stick.""
"Elements are sometimes listed before they're voted into the table, as was the case with #114 and #116 before an international committee of scientists gave them the go-ahead, and as is currently the case with #113 and #115, who continue to languish in periodic table purgatory. The total number of officially recognized elements, a Carnegie Mellon professor told the AP, is now 114, given this condition." 06-11
- Water Found on Mars (MSNBC News)
"The Phoenix spacecraft has tasted Martian water for the first time, scientists reported Thursday." 07-08
- Webb, the Greatest Space Telescope (Time.com)
"For the Webb, cold isn't just an obstacle: it's a necessity if the telescope is going to work. Astronomers have learned that many of the biggest unanswered questions of their field — How and when did the very first stars appear? How were the galaxies assembled from those stars? How do planets form? Does the chemistry of distant planets' atmospheres suggest the existence of life? — are best answered by looking in infrared, not visible light. To detect the faint glow of infrared, a telescope works best if it's as cold as possible, so that heat from the telescope itself doesn't contaminate the signal. In space, that's no problem." 02-12
- Where Humans Are Headed Genetically (U.S. News)
"Hawks is among a growing number of scientists who are using whole-genome sequencing and other modern technologies to zero in on just how we've changed. Their research is helping illuminate not only how humans became what we are but also where we might be headed." 07-08
- Who Has a Better Brain: Liberals or Conservatives? (CBS News)
"The brains of people who call themselves liberals tend to have larger anterior cingulate cortexes than the brains of people on the opposite side of the political spectrum, the study showed. The anterior cingulate cortex is a collar-shaped region around the corpus collosum, a structure that relays signals between the right and left hemispheres of the brain."
"What about conservatives? Their brains brains tend to have larger amygdalas. The amygdala is an almond-shaped structure located deep within the brain."
"Based upon what brain scientists know about the function of the two brain regions, researchers believe the structural differences support the notion that liberals are better equipped to make sense of conflicting information while conservatives are better able to recognize a threat." 04-11
- World's Fastest Animal (MSNBC News)
"The giant palm salamander of Central America shoots out its tongue with more instantaneous power than any known muscle in the animal kingdom, a new study finds."
"Bolitoglossa can extend its tongue more than half its body length in about 7 milliseconds, or about 50 times faster than an average eye blink."
"The findings revealed the tongues were propelled outward much faster than could be achieved by muscle contraction alone." 03-07
- -Science Projects for the Classroom or Home (MakeProjects.com)
"Make: Projects is a living library for makers, a how-to community hosted by MAKE magazine. Here you can build something from our growing cookbook of projects, tweak existing projects to improve them, share your own step-by-step instructions, discover new ideas and techniques, and learn how to make just about anything. And it's a wiki, so everything is hackable. Connect with the collective smarts of the maker community!"