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  • News

    Fossil teeth push the human-Neandertal split back to about 1 million years ago

    People and Neandertals separated from a common ancestor more than 800,000 years ago — much earlier than many researchers had thought.

    That conclusion, published online May 15 in Science Advances, stems from an analysis of early fossilized Neandertal teeth found at a Spanish site called Sima de los Huesos. During hominid evolution, tooth crowns changed in size and shape at a steady rate,...

    05/15/2019 - 14:00 Anthropology, Human Evolution
  • News

    China’s lunar rover may have found minerals from the moon’s mantle

    The first mission to the farside of the moon may have found bits of the moon’s interior on its surface.

    The Yutu-2 rover, deployed by the Chinese Chang’e-4 spacecraft that landed on the moon in January, detected soil that appears rich in minerals thought to make up the lunar mantle, researchers report in the May 16 Nature. Those origins, if confirmed, could offer insight into the moon’s...

    05/15/2019 - 13:00 Planetary Science
  • Science Visualized

    Peacock spiders’ superblack spots reflect just 0.5 percent of light

    Male peacock spiders know how to put on a show for potential mates, with dancing and a bit of optical trickery.

    Microscopic bumps on the arachnids’ exoskeletons make velvety black areas look darker than a typical black by manipulating light. This architecture reflects less than 0.5 percent of light, researchers report May 15 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

    The ultradark...

    05/14/2019 - 19:05 Animals, Evolution
  • Feature

    AI can learn real-world skills from playing StarCraft and Minecraft

    Dario Wünsch was feeling confident. The 28-year-old from Leipzig, Germany, was about to become the first professional gamer to take on the artificial intelligence program AlphaStar in the rapid-fire video game StarCraft II. Wünsch had been professionally playing StarCraft II, in which competitors command alien fleets vying for territory, for nearly a decade. No way could he lose this five-...

    05/14/2019 - 12:07 Artificial Intelligence, Computing, Robotics
  • News

    Tweaking one gene with CRISPR switched the way a snail shell spirals

    A genetic spin doctor sets snail shells to swirl clockwise, new research confirms. And the twist in this story comes at the beginning — when snail embryos are just single cells.

    Though most pond snails (Lymnaea stagnalis) have shells that coil clockwise, a few have taken a left turn, curling counterclockwise. Researchers had strong evidence that a mutation in a gene called Lsdia1 caused...

    05/14/2019 - 07:00 Genetics, Development, Animals
  • News

    Apollo-era moonquakes reveal that the moon may be tectonically active

    The moon may still be kicking.

    Rumbles recorded decades ago by seismometers at Apollo landing sites are probably linked to young faults mapped by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists say. Eight of those moonquakes occurred within 30 kilometers of fault scarps, steplike cliffs on the lunar crust that mark places where one side of a fault has thrust up or slipped down. If true,...

    05/13/2019 - 11:00 Planetary Science
  • News

    A new AI acquired humanlike ‘number sense’ on its own

    Artificial intelligence can share our natural ability to make numeric snap judgments.

    Researchers observed this knack for numbers in a computer model composed of virtual brain cells, or neurons, called an artificial neural network. After being trained merely to identify objects in images — a common task for AI — the network developed virtual neurons that respond to specific quantities....

    05/13/2019 - 07:00 Artificial Intelligence, Neuroscience
  • May 11, 2019

    05/11/2019 - 07:30
  • Editor's Note

    Celebrating scientists who ask big questions

    Humans are problem solvers. All day, every day, we ask ourselves questions. Should I wear socks with these shoes? Bring a phone charger? Eat the whole sandwich? Finish that assignment or watch YouTube? And that’s just an average day. When we apply the tools of science to answering big questions, we can do amazing things.

    In this double issue of Science News, we profile scientists...

    05/11/2019 - 07:15 Science & Society
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers were curious about green icebergs, aliens and more

    Going green

    Researchers found iron oxides trapped in a sample of green Antarctic ice. The compounds may explain why typically blue-hued icebergs can sometimes appear green, Jeremy Rehm reported in “Tiny bits of iron may explain why some icebergs are green” (SN: 3/30/19, p. 12).

    “Since icebergs can drift for thousands of miles, and because iron is a limiting nutrient for algae, I...

    05/11/2019 - 07:00 Ecology, Astronomy, Health