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  • Television

    Will Smith narrates ‘One Strange Rock,’ but astronauts are the real stars

    View the trailer

    “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–...

    03/18/2018 - 07:00 Earth, Astronomy, Science & Society
  • News

    Diamonds reveal sign of the deepest water known inside Earth

    Deep within the hot interior of the planet, ice lurks. Now, a form of super-compact ice, found embedded in diamonds, offers the first direct clue that there is abundant water more than 610 kilometers deep in the mantle.

    This ice, identified by its crystal structure and called ice-VII, doesn’t exist at Earth’s surface. It forms only at pressures greater than about 24 gigapascals —...

    03/08/2018 - 14:22 Earth
  • Science Stats

    By 2100, damaged corals may let waves twice as tall as today’s reach coasts

    A complex coral reef full of nooks and crannies is a coastline’s best defense against large ocean waves. But coral die-offs over the next century could allow taller waves to penetrate the corals’ defenses, simulations suggest. A new study finds that at some Pacific Island sites, waves reaching the shore could be more than twice as high as today’s by 2100.

    The rough, complex structures of...

    03/05/2018 - 13:41 Earth, Oceans, Animals
  • Science Ticker

    Critter-finding mission to Antarctica’s Larsen C iceberg scrapped

    Thick sea ice has thwarted researchers’ plans to explore what creatures lived beneath an Antarctic ice shelf. A mission to study seafloor life suddenly exposed by the breaking away of the Larsen C iceberg last July was delayed as it tried to navigate through floating ice, some chunks as thick as 5 meters. With 400 kilometers still to go, the captain of the vessel, the RRS James Clark Ross,...

    03/03/2018 - 07:00 Earth
  • News

    Early land plants led to the rise of mud

    Early plants made Earth muddier. Ancient riverbed deposits of mud rock — rocks containing bits of clay and silt smaller than grains of sand — began increasing around 458 million years ago, around the time that rootless plants became common across Earth, researchers say.

    Anecdotally, geologists have long noted that early sediment deposits became muddier at some point, and suggested a...

    03/01/2018 - 16:19 Earth, Plants
  • Science Visualized

    New mapping shows just how much fishing impacts the world’s seas

    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...

    02/22/2018 - 15:40 Earth, Science & Society, Animals
  • News in Brief

    Strong winds send migrating seal pups on lengthier trips

    PORTLAND, Ore. — Native American fishermen in Alaska have long said that seal pups go with the wind rather than struggle against it. Now, a new study confirms that wisdom. Migrating northern fur seal pups travel hundreds of kilometers farther in blustery years than in milder years, researchers reported February 14 at the American Geophysical Union’s Ocean Sciences meeting. Those epic journeys...

    02/15/2018 - 16:32 Animals, Earth, Climate
  • News in Brief

    Ancient ozone holes may have sterilized forests 252 million years ago

    Volcano-fueled holes in Earth’s ozone layer 252 million years ago may have repeatedly sterilized large swaths of forest, setting the stage for the world’s largest mass extinction event. Such holes would have allowed ultraviolet-B radiation to blast the planet. Even radiation levels below those predicted for the end of the Permian period damage trees’ abilities to make seeds, researchers report...

    02/12/2018 - 07:00 Plants, Earth, Ecosystems
  • News

    Gassy farm soils are a shockingly large source of these air pollutants

    California’s crops are creating some noxious air.

    The Golden State is at the vanguard in the United States in reducing auto emissions of nitrogen oxide gases, which help produce toxic smog and acid rain. But the NOx pollution problem isn’t limited to auto exhaust. California’s vast agricultural lands — particularly soils heavily treated with nitrogen fertilizers — are now responsible for...

    01/31/2018 - 14:13 Earth, Pollution, Agriculture
  • News

    Life may have been possible in Earth’s earliest, most hellish eon

    Maybe Earth’s early years weren’t so hellish after all.

    Asteroid strikes repeatedly bombarded the planet during its first eon, but the heat released by those hits wasn’t as sterilizing as once thought, new research suggests. Simulations indicate that after the first few hundred million years of bombardment, the heat from the impacts had dissipated enough that 10 to 75 percent of the top...

    01/26/2018 - 07:00 Earth, Evolution