Saturn: Four Rings
Walter A. Feibelman of the University of Pittsburgh … has found evidence indicating a fourth ring [of Saturn].… Every 14.78 years, the rings of Saturn can be seen edge-on from Earth, and the past winter marked one of these opportunities.… The thin ring “extends to more than twice the known ring diameter” (or a total of 340,000 miles), and is so faint it cannot be...
Ask 10 people what makes humans human and you’ll probably get 10 different answers — and then some. From our biased perspective, it’s seemingly simple to come up with many qualities that define the human experience. We love, we laugh. We form deep personal bonds and complex societies. We use language to communicate, art to express ourselves and technology to accomplish complex tasks. As...
Letters to the Editor
At random05/17/2017 - 10:49 Cancer, Planetary Science
As cells divide and grow, mutations may crop up in cancer-associated genes. A recent study found that more cancer mutations are caused by these random mistakes than other factors, such as environment or inheritance, Tina Hesman Saey reported in “DNA errors play big role in cancer” (SN: 4/15/17, p. 6).
John Day wondered if replication errors are truly random, not just...
Chaco Canyon is a land of extremes. Summer heat scorches the desert canyon, which is sandwiched between sandstone cliffs nearly two kilometers above sea level in New Mexico’s northwestern corner. Bitter cold sweeps in for winter. Temperatures can swing as many as 28 degrees Celsius during the course of a day. Through it all, Chaco Canyon maintains a desolate beauty and a craggy pride as home...
After a recent flurry of news that fang blennies mix an opioid in their venom, a question lingers: What do they need with fangs anyway? Most eat wimpy stuff that hardly justifies whopper canines.
Not that fang blennies are meek fishes.
“When they bite, they bite savagely,” says Bryan Fry of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. “If these little jobbies were 3 meters...
Face-to-face, a human and a chimpanzee are easy to tell apart. The two species share a common primate ancestor, but over millions of years, their characteristics have morphed into easily distinguishable features. Chimps developed prominent brow ridges, flat noses, low-crowned heads and protruding muzzles. Human noses jut from relatively flat faces under high-domed crowns.
In a famous series of experiments conducted in the 1970s, social psychologist Henri Tajfel asked how little it would take to persuade one group of people to discriminate against another. The answer was almost nothing. Having assigned boys to two groups based largely on random criteria, he asked them to play a game. Each boy had to decide how many pennies to give to members of his own group and...
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The footprints of long-gone glaciers and icebergs are now frozen in time in a stunning new collection of images of Earth’s seafloor.
The Atlas of Submarine Glacial Landforms is a comprehensive, high-resolution atlas of underwater landscapes that have been shaped by glaciers, largely in polar and subpolar regions, and provides a comparative look at how glaciers,...
Mars may have had a far-out birthplace.
Simulating the assembly of the solar system around 4.56 billion years ago, researchers propose that the Red Planet didn’t form in the inner solar system alongside the other terrestrial planets as previously thought. Mars instead may have formed around where the asteroid belt is now and migrated inward to its present-day orbit, the scientists report...
News in Brief
The 180-kilometer-long crack threatening one of Antarctica’s largest ice shelves has branched out, new satellite observations reveal. The main rift in the Larsen C ice shelf hasn’t grown longer since February. But radar mapping shows that a crack has split off from the main rupture like a snake’s forked tongue, members of Project MIDAS, an Antarctic research group, report May 1. That new...