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  • News

    Tardigrades aren’t champion gene swappers after all

    A peek at tardigrades' genetic diaries may dispel a rumor about an amazing feat the tiny creatures were supposed to perform: borrowing large numbers of genes from other organisms.

    Tardigrades — also known as water bears and moss piglets — hardly ever borrow DNA from other creatures, researchers report July 27 in PLOS Biology.

    New analyses of DNA from two species of water bear,...

    07/27/2017 - 14:06 Genetics, Animals, Evolution
  • News

    The thinnest films of copper look flat, but they aren’t

    Like the surface of an alien planet, thin sheets of copper display a complex topography of ridges and valleys. These never-before-seen undulations may spell trouble for electronic gadgets: The zigzagging surface could contribute to the electrical resistance of miniature copper wires that snake throughout computer chips.

    Using a scanning tunneling microscope, scientists observed nanoscale...

    07/27/2017 - 14:00 Materials
  • 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
  • News

    Borrowed genes give mums the blues

    Mums are now a flower of a different color. Japanese researchers have added a hint of clear sky to the humble plant’s palette, genetically engineering the first-ever “true blue” chrysanthemum.

    “Obtaining blue-colored flowers is the Holy Grail for plant breeders,” says Mark Bridgen, a plant breeder at Cornell University. The results are “very exciting.”

    Compounds called delphinidin-...

    07/26/2017 - 15:45 Plants, Genetics, Chemistry
  • The Science Life

    Balloons will broadcast the 2017 solar eclipse live from on high

    Only a lucky few have watched a solar eclipse from above the Earth. Angela Des Jardins wants to bring that view to everyone.

    On August 21, Des Jardins, an astrophysicist at Montana State University in Bozeman, will help broadcast the first livestream of a total solar eclipse from the edge of space. She and more than 50 groups across the United States will launch high-altitude balloons to...

    07/26/2017 - 13:30 Astronomy, Networks, Science & Society
  • 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
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers question hominid family tree

    Hominid hubbub

    In “Hominid roots may go back to Europe” (SN: 6/24/17, p. 9), Bruce Bower reported that the teeth of Graecopithecus, a chimp-sized primate that lived in southeastern Europe 7 million years ago, suggest it was a member of the human evolutionary family.

    “Is it appropriate to use the terms ‘hominid’ and ‘ape’ as if the two are mutually exclusive categories?” asked online...

    07/26/2017 - 13:04 Anthropology, Physics, Animals
  • Feature

    Perovskites power up the solar industry

    Tsutomu Miyasaka was on a mission to build a better solar cell. It was the early 2000s, and the Japanese scientist wanted to replace the delicate molecules that he was using to capture sunlight with a sturdier, more effective option.

    So when a student told him about an unfamiliar material with unusual properties, Miyasaka had to try it. The material was “very strange,” he says, but he...

    07/26/2017 - 12:00 Materials, Sustainability, Chemistry
  • 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
  • News

    Add penis bacteria to the list of HIV risk factors

    Out-of-whack microbes in the vagina can raise HIV risk — and now there’s evidence that the makeup of the penis microbiome matters, too. The greater the number of anaerobic bacteria tucked under the foreskin, the more likely an uncircumcised man is to become infected with the virus, researchers report July 25 in mBio.

    “This mirrors what’s been seen in women, but it’s the first study of...

    07/25/2017 - 12:33 Health