Air pollution is a drag for renewable energy. Dust and other sky-darkening air pollutants slash solar energy production by 17 to 25 percent across parts of India, China and the Arabian Peninsula, a new study estimates. The haze can block sunlight from reaching solar panels. And if the particles land on a panel’s flat surface, they cut down on the area exposed to the sun. Dust can come from...
Nuclear power go-ahead
West German power companies have decided to go ahead with two nuclear power station projects…. Compared with the U.S. and Britain, Germany has been relatively backward in the application of nuclear energy…. The slow German start is only partly the result of restrictions placed upon German nuclear research after the war. — Science News, September 16, 1967...
Letters to the Editor
Going rogue09/06/2017 - 13:30 Planetary Science, Exoplanets, Anthropology
Astronomers estimate that wandering Jupiter-mass planets without a parent star are about a tenth as common as once believed, Ashley Yeager reported in “Giant solo planets are in limited supply” (SN: 8/19/17, p. 10).
Online reader Brian Bixby wondered how often such a rogue planet would come close to our solar system and proposed that one near the Kuiper Belt or Oort cloud...
I’ll admit it. I’m addicted to learning. There’s nothing quite like the thrill that comes with finding out something new.09/06/2017 - 13:15 Science & Society, Neuroscience
It’s no surprise I ended up this way. My parents were public school teachers. They instilled in me the belief that education not only opens up new opportunities but also is enjoyable in itself. My parents regularly took my siblings and me to museums, encouraged...
You’ve probably encountered at least one machine-learning algorithm today. These clever computer codes sort search engine results, weed spam e-mails from inboxes and optimize navigation routes in real time. People entrust these programs with increasingly complex — and sometimes life-changing — decisions, such as diagnosing diseases and predicting criminal activity.
When nocturnal aardvarks start sunbathing, something’s wrong.
If the animals are desperate enough to bask like some cold, sluggish turtle, it’s because they’ve got the chills. Robyn Hetem, an ecophysiologist, has the body temperature data to prove it — collected from late 2012 into 2013, the hottest summer the arid Kalahari region in South Africa had seen in more than 30 years.
Peer inside the brain of someone learning. You might be lucky enough to spy a synapse pop into existence. That physical bridge between two nerve cells seals new knowledge into the brain. As new information arrives, synapses form and strengthen, while others weaken, making way for new connections.
You might see more subtle changes, too, like fluctuations in the levels of signaling...
Sure, students in the classroom have to remember facts, but they also have to apply them. Some research efforts to enhance learning zero in on methods to strengthen memory and recall, while others bolster students’ abilities to stay on task, think more fluidly and mentally track and juggle information.
But there’s a catch. The science behind student learning is so far based on carefully...
News in Brief
People hunted giant sloths in the center of South America around 23,120 years ago, researchers say — a find that adds to evidence that humans reached South America well before Clovis hunters roamed North America 13,000 years ago.
Evidence of people’s presence at Santa Elina rock-shelter, in central-west Brazil, so long ago raises questions about how people first entered South America....
Reviews & Previews
The Great QuakeHenry FountainCrown, $28
In the early evening of March 27, 1964, a magnitude 9.2 earthquake roiled Alaska. For nearly five minutes, the ground shuddered violently in what was, and still is, the second biggest temblor in recorded history.
Across the southern part of the state, land cracked and split, lifting some areas nearly 12 meters — about as high as a...