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  • Context

    Quantum spookiness survives its toughest tests

    Second of two (entangled) parts. Read part one. 

    Until his death in 1955, Albert Einstein hoped that someday science would do away with what he called spooky action at a distance.

    His concern was quantum entanglement. Two entangled particles, even after traveling very far from one another, share a mysterious quantum connection. Measuring one tells you instantly what the outcome...

    01/27/2016 - 07:00 Particle Physics, Quantum Physics, History of Science
  • News

    Water bears’ genetic borrowing questioned

    Water bears may not be champion gene borrowers after all, a new analysis suggests.

    Researchers in Scotland and colleagues say foreign genes may account for less than 1 percent of the genome of the famously hardy critters, technically known as tardigrades (Hypsibius dujardini). That result, reported in a paper posted online December 1 at BioRxiv.org, directly contradicts a previous study ...

    12/08/2015 - 15:55 Animals, Genetics
  • Science Ticker

    Adorable birds tap dance their way into the heart of a mate

    View the video

    Blue-capped cordon-bleu songbirds (Uraeginthus cyanocephalus) know how to bust a move like Fred Astaire. The birds belt out some dulcet tones, stick some nesting material in their beak, bob up and down — and rhythmically tap their feet.

    Researchers summarize the first evidence of such “tap dancing” in this socially monogamous species November 19 in Scientific Reports...

    11/19/2015 - 12:55 Animals
  • Feature

    Using general relativity to magnify the cosmos

    One of the most powerful known magnifying lenses isn’t found on Earth. The lens is built from stars, gas and dark matter and lies about 4 billion light-years away. As astronomers peer through it, they are finding the seeds of galaxies that were scattered around the universe more than 13 billion years ago.

    The lens is known as Abell 2744, a cosmic pileup where four groups of galaxies are...

    10/06/2015 - 12:38 Astronomy, Cosmology, Physics
  • Wild Things

    Don’t let Cecil the lion distract from the big conservation challenges

    Last week, the death of a lion named Cecil dominated the news and social media. Even before then, Cecil had been somewhat famous, for a lion. He resided in a national park, appeared in pictures and was the subject of scientific research. But his death in early July, at the hand of an American hunter, shot Cecil into the headlines. In the wake of the media frenzy, we are left wondering why one...

    08/04/2015 - 16:11 Animals
  • Feature

    The tree of life gets a makeover

    The tree of life might seem like a stable design, appropriate for indelible ink. Plenty of people think so. An Internet search for “phylogenetic tattoos” turns up some showy skin art.

    But the branches are shifting. Since a radial diagram based on 1990s genetics inspired a rush for tree-of-life tattoos, technical diagrams of life’s ancestral connections have been redrawn. And the...

    07/29/2015 - 15:00 Evolution, Microbes, Genetics
  • Feature

    Five years on, Deepwater Horizon oil spill's impact lingers

    In a steamy Louisiana marsh, crickets do their best impersonation of a canary in a coal mine.

    Afloat in orange cages on the coastal wetland, the featherless chirpers warn researchers of toxic fumes rising from oil. Oozing oil is a recurring yet elusive problem on the marsh in Barataria Bay, just south of New Orleans. One day, a patch of the wetland is green and lush, the next it’s...

    04/03/2015 - 12:00 Pollution, Oceans, Ecosystems
  • News in Brief

    Fast-spinning young Earth pulled the moon into a yo-yo orbit

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    The Earth and moon’s celestial dance was a lot wilder during the pair’s youth.

    By simulating the early moon’s orbit, researchers have reconstructed what the moon’s phases would have looked like during the solar system’s early years. The result, presented online March 10 at arXiv.org, reveals a moon that alternated rapidly between its sunlit and shadowy sides and...

    03/18/2015 - 11:05 Astronomy, Planetary Science
  • Science Ticker

    How pigeons bob and weave through obstacles

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    To dodge obstacles, pigeons have to know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. By altering their wing posture, the birds can successfully navigate tight spots, researchers report March 2 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences.

    Harvard University researchers filmed and modeled the flight dynamics of wild rock pigeons (Columbia livia) as they flew...

    03/03/2015 - 15:52 Animals, Biophysics
  • Context

    Bell’s math showed that quantum weirdness rang true

    First of two parts

    There’s just enough time left in 2014 to sneak in one more scientific anniversary, and it just might be the most noteworthy of them all. Fifty years ago last month, John Stewart Bell transformed forever the human race’s grasp on the mystery of quantum physics. He proved a theorem establishing the depth of quantum weirdness, deflating the hopes of Einstein and others...

    12/29/2014 - 08:00 Quantum Physics