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  • News

    A cosmic flare called the ‘Cow’ may reveal a new way that stars die

    SEATTLE — Astronomers may have discovered a new way that stars can die. A mysteriously brief and bright burst whimsically called the “Cow” reveals an entirely new type of stellar death.

    The details of that stellar doom, however, remain hazy. Scientists are still debating whether the flare-up, spotted on June 16, 2018, was from an unusual type of star that was eaten by a black hole, or...

    01/14/2019 - 11:12 Cosmology, Astronomy
  • News

    Desalination pours more toxic brine into the ocean than previously thought

    Technology meant to help solve the world’s growing water shortage is producing a salty environmental dilemma.

    Desalination facilities, which extract drinkable water from the ocean, discharge around 142 billion liters of extremely salty water called brine back into the environment every day, a study finds. That waste product of the desalination process can kill marine life and...

    01/14/2019 - 10:17 Technology, Sustainability, Oceans
  • News in Brief

    Your phone could reveal your radiation exposure after a nuclear disaster

    In the event of a nuclear attack or accident, personal electronics could be repurposed as radiation detectors.

    A ceramic insulator found in many devices, such as cell phones and fitness trackers, gives off a glow under high heat that reveals its past nuclear radiation exposure, researchers report in the February Radiation Measurements. That insight may allow experts to gauge someone’s...

    01/14/2019 - 06:00 Chemistry, Science & Society
  • News

    Here’s how the record-breaking government shutdown is disrupting science

    As the partial federal government shutdown enters its fourth week — on January 12 becoming the longest in U.S. history — scientists are increasingly feeling the impact. Thousands of federal workers who handle food safety and public health are furloughed. Countless projects researching everything from climate change to pest control to hurricane prediction are on hold.

    Among government...

    01/12/2019 - 08:00 Science & Society
  • News

    A drill built for Mars is being used to bore into Antarctic bedrock

    Once destined for Mars, a prototype drill has a new mission: To bore into rocks buried deep beneath the ice in Antarctica.

    In early January, researchers from the University of Glasgow in Scotland took a modified version of their Martian drill to Antarctica. They’re poised to send it down to the bottom of a 651-meter deep ice borehole completed January 10 by researchers with the British...

    01/11/2019 - 14:47 Climate, Technology
  • News

    How worm blobs behave like a liquid and a solid

    TAMPA, Fla. — Blobs of worms flow like a fluid, plop like a solid and fascinate scientists.

    A worm by itself is as solid as any other living animal. But a mass of aquatic California blackworms tangled together flows through a tube like a liquid. Pouring, heating and otherwise playing with blobs of worms shows that a tangled mass of them has properties of both fluids and solids, Saad...

    01/11/2019 - 13:11 Animals, Biophysics
  • News

    Nerve cells from people with autism grow unusually big and fast

    Young nerve cells derived from people with autism are precocious, growing bigger and developing sooner than cells taken from people without autism, a new study shows.

    The results, described January 7 in Nature Neuroscience, hint that in some cases nerve cells veer off course early in brain development to ultimately cause the disorder.

    As a proxy of brain growth, researchers led by...

    01/11/2019 - 06:00 Neuroscience
  • News

    Poison toilet paper reveals how termites help rainforests resist drought

    It took hundreds of teabags and thousands of rolls of toilet paper for tropical ecologist Kate Parr and her colleagues to demonstrate that termites help tropical rainforests resist drought. Forests with more termites show more soil moisture, leaf litter decomposition and seedling survival during a drought than forests with fewer termites, the scientists report January 10 in Science.

    The...

    01/10/2019 - 14:00 Animals, Ecosystems
  • News in Brief

    Floating seabirds provide a novel way to trace ocean currents

    Seabirds are like feathered buoys. Gently rafting on the ocean’s surface, these birds go with the flow, making them excellent proxies for tracking changes in a current’s speed and direction.

    Oceanographers traditionally use radar, floating buoys or autonomous underwater vehicles to measure ocean current velocities, which can affect the climate, ecosystems and the movement of important...

    01/10/2019 - 09:00 Oceans, Ecology
  • 50 years ago, scientists studied orcas in the wild for the first time

    The astonishing capture [of seven orcas off British Columbia] has made possible the first scientific study of killer whales in their more or less natural environment…. There is little doubt that the animals have a sophisticated language with which they can communicate with each other, but practically nothing is known about the complexity of their speech. — Science News, January 18,...
    01/10/2019 - 08:00 Animals