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  • News

    An ancient child from East Asia grew teeth like a modern human

    An ancient child with a mysterious evolutionary background represents the oldest known case of humanlike tooth growth in East Asia, researchers say.

    The child’s fossilized upper jaw contains seven teeth that were in the process of developing when the roughly 6½-year-old youngster died at least 104,000 years ago and possibly more than 200,000 years ago. Using X-rays to examine the teeth’s...

    01/16/2019 - 14:12 Anthropology, Human Evolution, Human Development
  • News in Brief

    These robots can follow how-to diagrams

    Robots imbued with a certain kind of common sense may soon be able to follow instructional diagrams to build things.

    When studying pictures for assembling IKEA furniture or LEGO villages, humans are naturally good at inferring how to get from A to B. Robots, on the other hand, normally have to be painstakingly programmed with exact instructions for how to move. “Even when you try to...

    01/16/2019 - 14:00 Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Technology
  • News

    A four-legged robot hints at how ancient tetrapods walked

    Orobates pabsti lived between 280 million and 290 million years ago, but it was pretty advanced at doing the locomotion.

    Using computer simulations, re-created skeletons, fossil trackways and a walking robot dubbed the OroBOT, scientists found that this ancient four-footed creature had a surprisingly efficient gait. The result suggests that developing a more advanced way of walking may...

    01/16/2019 - 13:27 Paleontology, Evolution
  • Feature

    Two daring spacecraft aim to bring asteroid dust back to Earth

    Shogo Tachibana greeted asteroid Ryugu with dread.

    The cosmochemist with the University of Tokyo had spent 10 years helping to design a mission to Ryugu’s surface. To touch down safely, the spacecraft, Hayabusa2, needs to find broad, flat stretches of fine-grained dust on the asteroid. But on June 27, when Hayabusa2 finally reached its target after a three-and-a-half-year journey (SN...

    01/15/2019 - 14:42 Planetary Science, Astrobiology
  • News

    A new 3-D printed ‘sponge’ sops up excess chemo drugs

    Bringing the filtering abilities of a fuel cell into the blood vessels of living organisms, a new device could cut down on toxic effects of cancer treatment.

    At the heart of this approach — recently tested in pigs — is a tiny, cylindrical “sponge” created by 3-D printing. Wedged inside a vein near a tumor being treated with chemotherapy, the sponge could absorb excess drug before it...

    01/15/2019 - 09:00 Cancer, Chemistry, Technology
  • News in Brief

    The first suspected exomoon may remain hidden for another decade

    SEATTLE — A good exomoon is hard to find. Proving that the first purported moon around an exoplanet actually exists could take up to a decade, its discoverers say.

    “We’re running into some difficult problems in terms of confirming the presence of this thing,” said astronomer Alex Teachey of Columbia University at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society on January 10.

    Using...

    01/15/2019 - 07:00 Exoplanets
  • News

    Easing test anxiety boosts low-income students’ biology grades

    At a large Midwestern high school, almost 40 percent of low-income biology students were poised to fail the course. Instead, thanks to simple measures aimed at reducing test anxiety, that failure rate was halved. 

    Psychological interventions that improve grades could ultimately help keep more low-income students in the sciences, says Christopher Rozek, a psychologist at Stanford...

    01/14/2019 - 15:00 Psychology, Science & Society
  • 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