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Your search has returned 30 articles:
  • News

    Giant mud balls roamed the early solar system

    The earliest asteroids were probably made of mud, not rock.

    Radioactive heat in the early solar system could have melted globs of dust and ice before they had a chance to turn to rock, a new simulation published July 14 in Science Advances shows. The results could solve several puzzles about the composition of meteorites found on Earth and may explain why asteroids are different from...

    07/14/2017 - 14:00 Planetary Science, Astronomy
  • Feature

    Competing ideas abound for how Earth got its moon

    The moon’s origin story does not add up. Most scientists think that the moon formed in the earliest days of the solar system, around 4.5 billion years ago, when a Mars-sized protoplanet called Theia whacked into the young Earth. The collision sent debris from both worlds hurling into orbit, where the rubble eventually mingled and combined to form the moon.

    If that happened, scientists...

    04/04/2017 - 06:00 Planetary Science, Chemistry
  • News

    Where the young hot Earth cached its gold

    There’s a new twist to the story of how Earth’s most precious metals, including gold and platinum, got to where they are in the planet.

    Some 4.6 billion years ago, space rocks pummeling the infant Earth kept it hot and molten. As the nascent planet grew bigger, a new study suggests, the heat and pressure kept precious metals trapped within its upper layers rather than allowing them to...

    09/08/2016 - 14:00 Earth, Chemistry
  • Feature

    The pressure is on to make metallic hydrogen

    In a few highly specialized laboratories, scientists bombard matter with the world’s most powerful electrical pulses or zap it with sophisticated lasers. Other labs squeeze heavy-duty diamonds together hard enough to crack them.

    All this is in pursuit of a priceless metal. It’s not gold, silver or platinum. The scientists’ quarry is hydrogen in its most elusive of forms.

    Several...

    08/10/2016 - 09:00 Physics, Materials, Condensed Matter
  • Editor's Note

    Science finds many tricks for traveling to the past

    Talking about her cover story on what iron-loving elements are telling geologists about the Earth’s deep past, Alexandra Witze likens these rare metals to time travelers. They can tell you, she says, what was happening more than 4.5 billion years ago, during the first 50 million years of our planet’s existence. By then the Earth’s molten interior had begun to settle into its current...
    07/27/2016 - 16:14 Earth, Evolution, Cosmology
  • Feature

    Iron-loving elements tell stories of Earth’s history

    View the slideshow

    Four and a half billion years ago, after Earth’s fiery birth, the infant planet began to radically reshape itself, separating into distinct layers. Metals — mostly iron with a bit of nickel — fell toward the center to form a core. The growing core also vacuumed up other metallic elements, such as platinum, iridium and gold.

    By the time the core finished forming,...

    07/27/2016 - 07:00 Earth, Chemistry
  • Feature

    Chasing a Cosmic Engine

    It was August 7, 1912, and Victor Hess was about to solve a mystery.

    The Austrian physicist climbed aboard a highly combustible, hydrogen-filled balloon, carrying three electroscopes — small, brass-enclosed instruments with metal-coated wires that separate when hit by charged particles. At the time, such invisible ions in the atmosphere...

    06/29/2012 - 11:17
  • News

    Machine versus manhole

    Every so often in New York City, a disk of cast iron weighing up to 300 pounds will burst out of the street and fly as high as several stories before clattering back to the blacktop. Flames, smoke or both may issue from the breach, as if somebody had pulled hell’s own pop-top.

    Manhole explosions aren’t just spectacular; they’re dangerous. As one firefighter observed after a...

    07/07/2010 - 09:23 Computing, Technology
  • Feature

    Red Snow, Green Snow

    Microbiologist Brian Duval hates this part, so let's just deal with the snickering up front. Yes, he studies yellow snow.

    He also studies red, green, and orange snow and would love to examine other colors if he were lucky enough to discover them. His palette comes from springtime blooms of algae that live only in deep,...

    11/04/2002 - 12:38
  • Feature

    Science News of the Year

    12/24/1988 - 00:00