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  • Science Visualized

    Tiny glasses help reveal how praying mantises can see in 3-D

    A praying mantis depends on precision targeting when hunting insects. Now, scientists have identified nerve cells that help calculate the depth perception required for these predators’ surgical strikes.

    In addition to providing clues about insect vision, the principles of these cells’ behavior, described June 28 in Nature Communications, may also lead to advances in robot vision or other...

    07/12/2019 - 10:00 Health, Neuroscience
  • News

    This solar-powered device produces energy and cleans water at the same time

    By mounting a water distillation system on the back of a solar cell, engineers have constructed a device that doubles as an energy generator and water purifier.

    While the solar cell harvests sunlight for electricity, heat from the solar panel drives evaporation in the water distiller below. That vapor wafts through a porous polystyrene membrane that filters out salt and other...

    07/12/2019 - 08:00 Technology, Sustainability
  • News

    3 questions seismologists are asking after the California earthquakes

    A week after two large earthquakes rattled southern California, scientists are scrambling to understand the sequence of events that led to the temblors and what it might tell us about future quakes.

    A magnitude 6.4 quake struck July 4 near Ridgecrest — about 194 kilometers northeast of Los Angeles — followed by a magnitude 7.1 quake in the same region on July 5. Both quakes occurred not...

    07/12/2019 - 06:00 Earth
  • News

    Artificial intelligence has now pretty much conquered poker

    Artificial intelligence has passed the last major milestone in mastering poker: six-player no-limit Texas Hold’em.

    Games like poker, with hidden cards and players who bluff, present a greater challenge to AI than games where every player can see the whole board. Over the last few years, computers have become aces at increasingly complicated forms of one-on-one poker, but multiplayer...

    07/11/2019 - 14:00 Artificial Intelligence, Computing, Technology
  • News in Brief

    Southern right whale moms and calves may whisper to evade orcas

    Whales are known for belting out sounds in the deep. But they may also whisper. 

    Southern right whale moms steer their calves to shallow waters, where newborns are less likely to be picked off by an orca. There, crashing waves mask the occasional quiet calls that the pairs make. That may help the whales stick together without broadcasting their location to predators, researchers report...

    07/11/2019 - 11:00 Animals, Evolution, Oceans
  • News in Brief

    An ancient bird found encased in amber had a bizarrely long toe

    There once was a little bird, smaller than a sparrow, that lived about 99 million years ago. And it had a freakishly long toe.

    Researchers found the ancient bird’s right leg and foot preserved in a chunk of amber. Its third digit is 9.8 millimeters long, about 41 percent longer than its second-longest digit — and 20 percent longer than its entire lower leg. This foot morphology is unique...

    07/11/2019 - 11:00 Paleontology
  • News

    Hayabusa2 may have just snagged bits of asteroid Ryugu’s insides

    The Hayabusa2 spacecraft has made its second and final attempt to grab a pinch of dust from asteroid Ryugu. At about 9:06 p.m. EDT on July 10, the Japanese spacecraft briefly touched down near an artificial crater it had previously blasted into the 4.5-billion-year-old asteroid’s surface. If the dust grab went well, it’s the first spacecraft to ever collect a sample from an asteroid’s insides...

    07/11/2019 - 10:38 Planetary Science
  • Context

    Many fictional moon voyages preceded the Apollo landing

    From the beginning, the moon has been humankind’s perpetual nighttime companion.

    Accompanied by innumerable points of light, the moon’s luminous disk hovered overhead like a dim substitute for the sun, just with a shape not so constant. Rather the moon waxed and waned, diminishing to a barely discernible sliver before disappearing and then gradually restoring itself to fullness.

    It...

    07/11/2019 - 06:00 History of Science
  • News

    Both fish and humans have REM-like sleep

    No one should have to sleep with the fishes, but new research on zebrafish suggests that we sleep like them.

    Sleeping zebrafish have brain activity similar to both deep slow-wave sleep and rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep that’s found in mammals, researchers report July 10 in Nature. And the team may have tracked down the cells that kick off REM sleep.

    The findings suggest that...

    07/10/2019 - 13:38 Neuroscience, Physiology, Animals
  • News

    A Greek skull may belong to the oldest human found outside of Africa

    A skull found in a cliffside cave on Greece’s southern coast in 1978 represents the oldest Homo sapiens fossil outside Africa, scientists say.  

    That skull, from an individual who lived at least 210,000 years ago, was encased in rock that also held a Neandertal skull dating to at least 170,000 years ago, contends a team led by paleoanthropologist Katerina Harvati of the University of...

    07/10/2019 - 13:00 Anthropology, Human Evolution