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  • News

    Half of the Milky Way comes from other galaxies

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    Galaxies may grow by swiping gas from their neighbors.

    New simulations suggest that nearly half the matter in the Milky Way may have been siphoned from the gas of other galaxies. That gas provides the raw material that galaxies use to build their bulk. The finding, scheduled to appear in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, reveals a new, unexpected...

    07/26/2017 - 21:00 Astronomy
  • Editor's Note

    Expert eavesdroppers occasionally catch a break

    In July of 1972, NASA launched the first Landsat satellite into orbit around Earth. Since then, the spacecraft and its successors have transformed our understanding of Antarctica (and the rest of the planet, too). In the first year following the launch, Landsat’s images of the faraway continent showed “uncharted mountain ranges, vast ice movements and errors in maps as little as two years old...

    07/26/2017 - 13:15 Earth, Science & Society
  • News

    Quantum tunneling takes time, new study shows

    Quantum particles can burrow through barriers that should be impenetrable — but they don’t do it instantaneously, a new experiment suggests.

    The process, known as quantum tunneling, takes place extremely quickly, making it difficult to confirm whether it takes any time at all. Now, in a study of electrons escaping from their atoms, scientists have pinpointed how long the particles take...

    07/26/2017 - 07:00 Quantum Physics
  • News

    Most football players who donated their brains to science had traumatic injury

    A majority of football players whose brains were donated for research suffered a degenerative brain disease during their lives, according to the largest sample of players ever studied. The finding provides more evidence that the repetitive injuries to the brain sustained while playing American football are associated with the disease, researchers say.

    Of 202 deceased former football...

    07/25/2017 - 16:28 Mental Health, Neuroscience
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Making Contact’ chronicles an astronomer’s struggle to find E.T.

    Making ContactSarah ScolesPegasus Books, $27.95

    In Carl Sagan’s 1985 sci-fi novel Contact, a radio astronomer battles naysayers and funding setbacks to persist in her audacious plan — scanning the skies for signals from aliens. Sagan had real-life inspiration for his book (and the 1997 movie of the same name): astronomer Jill Tarter, who spearheaded the search for extraterrestrial...

    07/24/2017 - 16:33 Astronomy, History of Science, Science & Society
  • News

    Fewer big rogue planets roam the galaxy, recount shows

    Big, rogue planets — ones without parent stars — are rare.

    A new census of free-floating Jupiter-mass planets determined that these worlds are a tenth as common as previous estimates suggested. The results appear online July 24 in Nature.

    Planets can go rogue in two ways: They can get kicked out of their parent planetary systems or form when a ball of gas and dust collapses (SN: 4/...

    07/24/2017 - 11:00 Exoplanets, Planetary Science
  • Wild Things

    Fire ants build towers with three simple rules

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    When faced with rushing floodwaters, fire ants are known to build two types of structures. A quickly formed raft lets the insects float to safety. And once they find a branch or tree to hold on to, the ants might form a tower up to 30 ants high, with eggs, brood and queen tucked safely inside. Neither structure requires a set of plans or a foreman ant leading the construction...

    07/21/2017 - 14:54 Animals
  • News

    These genes may be why dogs are so friendly

    DNA might reveal how dogs became man’s best friend.

    A new study shows that some of the same genes linked to the behavior of extremely social people can also make dogs friendlier. The result, published July 19 in Science Advances, suggests that dogs’ domestication may be the result of just a few genetic changes rather than hundreds or thousands of them.

    “It is great to see initial...

    07/19/2017 - 14:00 Genetics, Animals
  • News

    Delaware-sized iceberg breaks off Antarctic ice shelf

    With a final rip, an iceberg roughly the size of Delaware has broken off Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf. Anticipated for weeks, the fracture is one of the largest calving events ever recorded.

    On July 12, satellite images confirmed a nearly 5,800-square-kilometer, 1-trillion-metric-ton chunk of ice, equivalent to 12 percent of Larsen C’s total area, split from the ice shelf. “[We] have...

    07/12/2017 - 11:14 Earth, Climate
  • News

    The fight against gonorrhea gets a potential new weapon: a vaccine

    A vaccine against meningitis has an unexpected side effect: It appears to target gonorrhea, too. If confirmed, the results represent the first instance of a vaccine reducing gonorrhea infections.

    After receiving a vaccine aimed at a type of meningitis, people were less likely to contract gonorrhea, scientists report online June 10 in the Lancet. That’s a big deal because worldwide each...

    07/10/2017 - 18:30 Biomedicine, Health