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E.g., 02/20/2019
E.g., 02/20/2019
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  • Soapbox

    Why a data scientist warns against always trusting AI’s scientific discoveries

    WASHINGTON — We live in a golden age of scientific data, with larger stockpiles of genetic information, medical images and astronomical observations than ever before. Artificial intelligence can pore over these troves to uncover potential new scientific discoveries much quicker than people ever could. But we should not blindly trust AI’s scientific insights, argues data scientist Genevera...

    02/20/2019 - 13:28 Artificial Intelligence, Technology, Science & Society
  • News in Brief

    Neptune’s smallest moon may be a chip off another moon

    Neptune’s smallest moon may be a chunk of a neighboring moon that was knocked off by a comet.

    One of seven moons that orbit closer to Neptune than the planet’s largest moon, Triton, the newly dubbed Hippocamp is just roughly 34 kilometers across, researchers report in the Feb. 21 Nature. The second-largest moon, Proteus, is Hippocamp’s nearest neighbor, orbiting about 12,000 kilometers...

    02/20/2019 - 13:00 Planetary Science
  • Science Visualized

    Physics explains how pollen gets its stunning diversity of shapes

    Pollen grains sport a variety of snazzy shapes, from golf ball–like divots to prickly knobs or swirls that evoke a peppermint candy. But these myriad patterns may all be due to one simple trick of physics, scientists report in the Feb. 7 Cell.

    That trick: phase separation, in which a mixture naturally breaks up into separate parts, like cream floating to the top of milk (SN: 7/21/18, p....

    02/20/2019 - 07:00 Biophysics
  • News

    Mars’ lake may need an underground volcano to exist

    If Mars conceals a lake beneath its south polar ice cap, the planet must also have a hidden chamber of magma to keep the water liquid, a new analysis suggests.

    Signs of a 20-kilometer-wide lake, buried beneath about a kilometer and a half of ice near Mars’ south pole, were first reported in 2018 by a team led by planetary scientist Roberto Orosei (SN: 8/18/18, p. 6). The discovery kicked...

    02/19/2019 - 13:04 Planetary Science, Astrobiology
  • Reviews & Previews

    The quest for quasicrystals is a physics adventure tale

    The Second Kind of ImpossiblePaul J. SteinhardtSimon & Schuster, $27

    When Paul Steinhardt made a discovery that he had been working toward for more than 20 years, he did not cry “Eureka!” On that winter morning in the lab in 2009, he writes, he and a colleague “were dead silent, because no words were necessary.”

    Steinhardt had just found a natural quasicrystal, a solid...

    02/19/2019 - 08:00 Physics
  • News

    Tidal floods driven by climate change may hurt small businesses

    WASHINGTON — Sea level rise, driven by climate change, is causing increased flooding during high tides along much of the U.S. coastline. Though such floods are usually minor, a new study suggests that car traffic patterns could help reveal how floods harm an area’s business revenues.

    Tidal flooding events “are not one in a hundred years or one in a thousand years. They’re once a week,”...

    02/19/2019 - 06:00 Climate, Oceans, Science & Society
  • News in Brief

    Brain cells combine place and taste to make food maps

    Sometimes a really good meal can make an evening unforgettable. A new study of rats, published online February 18 in the Journal of Neuroscience, may help explain why. A select group of nerve cells in rats’ brains holds information about both flavors and places, becoming active when the right taste hits the tongue when the rat is in a certain location. These double-duty cells could help...

    02/18/2019 - 13:00 Neuroscience
  • News in Brief

    Tooth plaque shows drinking milk goes back 3,000 years in Mongolia

    WASHINGTON — Ancient people living in what’s now Mongolia drank milk from cows, yaks and sheep — even though, as adults, they couldn’t digest lactose. That finding comes from the humblest of sources: ancient dental plaque.

    Modern Mongolians are big on dairy, milking seven different animal species, including cows, yaks and camels. But how far into the past that dairying tradition extends...

    02/17/2019 - 07:00 Archaeology
  • News

    Why some Georgia O’Keeffe paintings have ‘art acne’

    WASHINGTON — Like pubescent children, the oil paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe have been breaking out with “acne” as they age, and now scientists know why.

    Tiny blisters, which can cause paint to crack and flake off like dry skin, were first spotted forming on the artist’s paintings years ago. O’Keeffe, a key figure in the development of American modern art, herself had noticed these knobs...

    02/16/2019 - 09:00 Chemistry, Technology
  • News

    LIGO will be getting a quantum upgrade

    WASHINGTON — Gravitational wave detectors are going quantum.

    A planned revamp of the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, LIGO, relies on finessing quantum techniques, LIGO scientists announced February 14. That $35 million upgrade could let scientists catch a gravitational wave every day, on average. LIGO’s current tally of 11 gravitational wave events could be...

    02/15/2019 - 14:54 Quantum Physics, Astronomy