No fantasy world is complete without a fire-breathing dragon. SpaceX founder Elon Musk even wants to make a cyborg version a reality, or so he tweeted April 25. But if someone was going to make a dragon happen, how would it get its flame? Nature, it seems, has all the parts a dragon needs to set the world on fire, no flamethrower required. The creature just needs a few chemicals, some microbes...
For Daily Use
Take a quiz on web privacy
Private web browsing isn’t nearly as private as many people think.
Major web browsers, such as Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari, offer a private browsing option, sometimes known as “incognito.” The option allows people to surf the internet through a private window that doesn’t log activity into the browser’s history or influence future autofill...
Everybody agrees that medical treatments should be based on sound evidence. Hardly anybody agrees on what sort of evidence counts as sound.
Sure, some people say the “gold standard” of medical evidence is the randomized controlled clinical trial. But such trials have their flaws, and translating their findings into sound real-world advice isn’t so straightforward. Besides, the best...
If you’re a female computer scientist, you may not see an equal number of men and women working in your field in this century — or even the next one. It might take a whopping 280 years for that scientific discipline to bridge the gender gap, researchers report online April 19 in PLOS Biology.
The study predicts when the gender gap will close in science, technology, engineering, math and...
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A beefed-up missile defense system might seem like a good idea in a time of heightened nuclear tensions. But such enhancements could have dangerous consequences.
The current U.S. missile defense system isn’t all it was cracked up to be, performing unreliably in tests, physicist and missile defense expert Laura Grego argued April 14 at a meeting of the American Physical...
Reviews & Previews
Weird MathDavid Darling and Agnijo BanerjeeBasic Books, $27
Weird Math sets out to “reveal the strange connections between math and everyday life.” The book fulfills that laudable goal, in part. At times, teenage math prodigy Agnijo Banerjee and his tutor, science writer David Darling, find ways to make complex math relatable, like linking chaos theory to weather forecasting and...
If you’re not paying, you’re the product, so the saying goes. For years, Facebook users have known that they — or, more specifically, their data — make up the bulk of the goods the social media company leverages for profit.
Then came news that London-based data firm Cambridge Analytica accessed an estimated 87 million Facebook profiles without permission and used that data for political...
Science & the Public
The upwelling of science activism witnessed in last year’s March for Science led many to predict that a flood of scientists might leave the lab for the legislature. Now, on the eve of the second March for Science, a survey of the field suggests that’s the case.
As many as 450 scientists-turned-politicians are throwing their hats into state, local, and federal campaigns, according to 314...
The death of physicist Stephen Hawking on March 14 at age 76 sparked a global outpouring of admiration. In our appreciation, Science News physics writer Emily Conover calls him “a black hole whisperer who divined the secrets of the universe’s most inscrutable objects." He was also among the very few cosmologists (hello, Carl Sagan) to have written an international best seller; Hawking...04/05/2018 - 07:53 Science & Society, Physics
Stephen Hawking, a black hole whisperer who divined the secrets of the universe’s most inscrutable objects, left a legacy of cosmological puzzles sparked by his work, and inspired a generation of scientists who grew up reading his books.
Upon Hawking’s death on March 14 at age 76, his most famous discovery — that black holes aren’t entirely black, but emit faint...