Zeptonewton\ZEP-toe-new-ton\ n.03/23/2018 - 14:00 Physics
A unit of force equal to one billionth of a trillionth of a newton.
An itty-bitty object can be used to suss out teeny-weeny forces.
Scientists used an atom of the element ytterbium to sense an electromagnetic force smaller than 100 zeptonewtons, researchers report online March 23 in Science Advances. That’s less than 0.0000000000000000001 newtons —...
THE WOODLANDS, Texas — Venus’ crust is broken up into chunks that shuffle, jostle and rotate on a global scale, researchers reported in two talks March 20 at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.
New maps of the rocky planet’s surface, based on images taken in the 1990s by NASA’s Magellan spacecraft, show that Venus’ low-lying plains are surrounded by a complex network of ridges...
Immediately after a 19-year-old shot and killed 17 people and wounded 17 others at a Florida high school on Valentine’s Day, people leaped to explain what had caused the latest mass slaughter.
By now, it’s a familiar drill: Too many readily available guns. Too much untreated mental illness. Too much warped masculinity. Don’t forget those shoot-’em-up video games and movies. Add (or...
Biological invasion via Suez
The Red Sea is invading the Mediterranean.… So far about 140 life-forms, mostly animal and mostly invertebrate, have crossed the Isthmus of Suez.… It is possible that this … will result in the loss of a few native fish and invertebrate populations to stiff competition from the newcomers. — Science News, March 30, 1968Update
Whether the movement of...
By analyzing the genome of a tiny fetal mummy known as Ata, researchers have learned more about what led to its strange-looking deformities — and that Ata was not an it, but a she.
The 6-inch human mummy, found in 2003 in Chile’s Atacama Desert, contains genetic mutations associated with skeletal abnormalities and joint problems, researchers report online March 22 in Genome Research....
Honeybees and bumblebees have a way to resist toxic compounds in some widely used insecticides.
These bees make enzymes that help the insects break down a type of neonicotinoid called thiacloprid, scientists report March 22 in Current Biology. Neonicotinoids have been linked to negative effects on bee health, such as difficulty reproducing in honeybees (SN: 7/26/16, p 16). But bees...
To quickly unfurl and refold their wings, earwigs stretch the rules of origami.
Yes, those garden pests that scurry out from under overturned flowerpots can also fly. Because earwigs spend most of their time underground and only occasionally take to the air, they pack their wings into packages with a surface area more than 10 times smaller than when unfurled, using an origami-like series...
Science has a way of surprising us when we least expect it. Like with mud rocks.03/22/2018 - 10:19 Science & Society, Earth, Plants
We science journalists can be a cranky lot, eternally skeptical as to whether a touted advance is really significant enough to warrant coverage. So when Science News’ managing editor Erin Wayman waxed enthusiastic about a study explaining how ancient plants may have played a key role in making Earth...
Letters to the Editor
Flight of fantasy03/22/2018 - 10:18 Anthropology, Technology, Planetary Science
Similar to their hunter-gatherer counterparts, many children in Western societies prefer play that mimics the things that adults do, Bruce Bower reported in “When it’s playtime, many kids prefer reality over fantasy" (SN: 2/17/18, p. 22). But fantasy play may still be valuable.
Reader Pat Rapp wondered about the implications of an experiment that showed that...