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“The strangest place in the whole universe might just be right here.” So says actor Will Smith, narrating the opening moments of a new documentary series about the wonderful unlikeliness of our own planet, Earth.
One Strange Rock, premiering March 26 on the National Geographic Channel, is itself a peculiar and unlikely creation. Executive produced by Academy Award–...
Reviews & Previews
The Biological MindAlan JasanoffBasic Books, $30
At a small eatery in Seville, Spain, Alan Jasanoff had his first experience with brains — wrapped in eggs and served with potatoes. At the time, he was more interested in finding a good, affordable meal than contemplating the sheer awesomeness of the organ he was eating. Years later, Jasanoff began studying the brain as part of his...
On the hormonal roller coaster of life, the ups and downs of childbirth are the Tower of Power. For nine long months, a woman’s body and brain absorb a slow upwelling of hormones, notably progesterone and estrogen. The ovaries and placenta produce these two chemicals in a gradual but relentless rise to support the developing fetus.
With the birth of a baby, and the immediate expulsion of...
Scientists and journalists live for facts. Our methods may be very different, but we share a deep belief that by questioning, observing and verifying, we can gain a truer sense of how the world works.03/09/2018 - 10:20 Science & Society, Psychology
So when people question the scientific consensus on issues such as climate change, vaccine effectiveness or the safety of genetically modified organisms (SN: 2/6/16, p. 22), it’s no...
Letters to the Editor
Memory lane03/09/2018 - 10:20 Neuroscience, Animals, Particle Physics
Inspired by flatworm memory experiments from the 1950s, researchers are on the hunt for the elusive engram — the physical mark that a memory leaves on the brain — Laura Sanders reported in “Somewhere in the brain is a storage device for memories” (SN: 2/3/18, p. 22).
Readers flooded Science News with their thoughts and questions on the topic.
The strangest signals reaching Earth
The search for neutron stars has intensified because of a relatively small area, low in the northern midnight sky, from which the strangest radio signals yet received on Earth are being detected. If the signals come from a star, the source broadcasting the radio waves is very likely the first neutron star ever detected. — Science News, March 16,...
In 2015, massive wildfires burned through Indonesia, sending thick smoke and haze as far as Thailand.
These fires were “the worst environmental disaster in modern history,” says Thomas Smith, a wildfire expert at King’s College London. Smith estimates that the fires and smoke killed 100,000 people in Indonesia and neighboring countries and caused billions of...
Galaxies, stars, planets and life, all are formed from one essential substance: matter.
But the abundance of matter is one of the biggest unsolved mysteries of physics. The Big Bang, 13.8 billion years ago, spawned equal amounts of matter and its bizarro twin, antimatter. Matter and antimatter partners annihilate when they meet, so an even stephen universe would have ended up full of...
Fishing has left a hefty footprint on Earth. Oceans cover more than two-thirds of the planet’s surface, and industrial fishing occurred across 55 percent of that ocean area in 2016, researchers report in the Feb. 23 Science. In comparison, only 34 percent of Earth’s land area is used for agriculture or grazing.
Previous efforts to quantify global fishing have relied on a hodgepodge of...
Neandertals drew on cave walls and made personal ornaments long before encountering Homo sapiens, two new studies find. These discoveries paint bulky, jut-jawed Neandertals as the mental equals of ancient humans, scientists say.
Rock art depicting abstract shapes and hand stencils in three Spanish caves dates back to at least 64,800 years ago, researchers report in the Feb. 23 Science....