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E.g., 10/20/2017
E.g., 10/20/2017
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  • Feature

    Being a vampire can be brutal. Here’s how bloodsuckers get by.

    Jennifer Zaspel can’t explain why she stuck her thumb in the vial with the moth. Just an after-dark, out-in-the-woods zing of curiosity.

    She was catching moths on a July night in the Russian Far East and had just eased a Calyptra, with brownish forewings like a dried leaf, into a plastic collecting vial. Of the 17 or so largely tropical Calyptra species, eight were known vampires. Males...

    10/18/2017 - 12:00 Animals, Physiology
  • How Bizarre

    Here’s what space toilets can teach us about finding signs of alien life

    The search for life may get an assist from the call of nature. Astronomers can learn how to study the plumes of subsurface ocean water spewing from icy moons like Saturn’s Enceladus from an unlikely source: Space toilets.

    Future spacecraft might scoop up samples of Enceladus’ plumes. Figuring out what to expect is tricky: It’s hard to replicate the plumes in Earth-based labs. But...

    10/17/2017 - 17:38 Astronomy, Planetary Science
  • News

    When the Larsen C ice shelf broke, it exposed a hidden world

    Teams of scientists are gearing up to race to the Antarctic Peninsula to find out what happens in the immediate aftermath of a massive ice calving event. In July, a Delaware-sized iceberg broke off from Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf (SN: 8/5/17, p. 6). Now, several research groups aim to assess the stability of the remaining ice shelf, map the region’s seafloor and study a newly exposed...

    10/13/2017 - 13:33 Earth, Climate
  • News in Brief

    In many places around the world, obesity in kids is on the rise

    Over the last 40 years, the number of kids and teens with obesity has skyrocketed worldwide. In 1975, an estimated 5 million girls and 6 million boys were obese. By 2016, those numbers had risen to an estimated 50 million girls and 74 million boys, according to a report published online October 10 in the Lancet. While the increase in childhood obesity has slowed or leveled off in many high-...

    10/11/2017 - 17:20 Health, Nutrition
  • News

    Economics Nobel nudges behavioral economist into the limelight

    A founding father of behavioral economics — a research school that has popularized the practice of “nudging” people into making decisions that authorities deem to be in their best interests — has won the 2017 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

    Richard Thaler, of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, received the award October 9 for being the leader of a discipline...

    10/09/2017 - 17:45 Science & Society, Psychology
  • Feature

    The SN 10: Meet the scientists ready to transform their fields

    Earlier this year, General Electric asked a brilliant question: What if scientist Mildred Dresselhaus was treated like a celebrity? The idea, aired as a TV commercial, had many of us smiling at the possibility. In the ad, fans stop the nanoscience pioneer in the street to take selfies, a young girl receives a Dresselhaus doll as a birthday gift and a student sends a Millie emoji after acing a...

    10/04/2017 - 13:54 Science & Society
  • Feature

    José Dinneny rethinks how plants hunt for water

    José Dinneny, 39Plant stress biologistCarnegie Institution for Science 

    José Dinneny wants us to see plants as stranger things.

    “They’re able to integrate information and make coherent decisions without a nervous system, without a brain,” he points out. Plus, plants find water without sight or touch. For too many of us, however, lawns, salads and pots on a sunny windowsill make plants so...

    10/04/2017 - 13:52 Plants, Genetics, Agriculture
  • Feature

    M. Ehsan Hoque develops digital helpers that teach social skills

    M. Ehsan Hoque, 35Computer scientistUniversity of Rochester

    A growing band of digital characters that converse, read faces and track body language is helping humans to communicate better with one another. While virtual helpers that perform practical tasks, such as dealing with customer service issues, are becoming ubiquitous, computer scientist M. Ehsan Hoque is at the forefront of a more...

    10/04/2017 - 13:51 Computing, Technology, Psychology, Science & Society
  • Feature

    Chong Liu one-ups plant photosynthesis

    Chong Liu, 30Inorganic chemistUCLA

    For Chong Liu, asking a scientific question is something like placing a bet: You throw all your energy into tackling a big and challenging problem with no guarantee of a reward. As a student, he bet that he could create a contraption that photosynthesizes like a leaf on a tree — but better. For the now 30-year-old chemist, the gamble is paying off.

    “He...

    10/04/2017 - 13:48 Chemistry, Sustainability, Materials
  • Feature

    Christina Warinner uncovers ancient tales in dental plaque

    Christina Warinner, 37Molecular anthropologistUniversity of OklahomaMax Planck Institute for theScience of Human History

    In a pitch-black rainforest with fluttering moths and crawling centipedes, Christina Warinner dug up her first skeleton. Well, technically it was a full skeleton plus two headless ones, all seated and draped in ornate jewelry. To deter looters, she excavated through the night...

    10/04/2017 - 13:45 Anthropology, Genetics, Archaeology