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  • Feature

    How did Earth get its water?

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    Earth — a planet of oceans, rivers and rainforests — grew up in an interplanetary desert.

    When the solar system formed about 4.6 billion years ago, shards of calcium- and aluminum-rich minerals stuck together, building ever-larger pebbles and boulders that smashed together and assembled the rocky planets...

    05/06/2015 - 11:14 Planetary Science, Astronomy
  • News in Brief

    Scientists take first picture of thunder

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    MONTREAL — For the first time, scientists have precisely captured a map of the boisterous bang radiating from a lightning strike. The work could reveal the energies involved in powering some of nature’s flashiest light shows.

    As electric current rapidly flows from a negatively charged cloud to the ground below, the lightning rapidly heats and...

    05/05/2015 - 17:32 Physics, Climate
  • News

    Stimulating nerve cells stretches time between thinking, doing

    A zap to the head can stretch the time between intention and action, a new study finds. The results help illuminate how intentions arise in the brain.

    The study, published in the May 6 Journal of Neuroscience, “provides fascinating new clues” about the process of internal decision making, says neuroscientist Gabriel...

    05/05/2015 - 17:00 Neuroscience
  • Science Ticker

    Children with autism excel at motion detection test

    On a test of visual perception, children with autism perceive moving dots with more clarity than children without the disorder. The results, published in the May 6 Journal of Neuroscience, reveal a way in which children with autism see the world differently.

    When asked to determine the overall direction of a mess of...

    05/05/2015 - 17:00 Neuroscience, Mental Health
  • Feature

    Designer drugs hit dangerous lows to bring new highs

    The 18-year-old had stabbed himself four times in the neck and chest with a pair of scissors. Alone in his dorm room, he had suddenly felt trapped, convinced that the only way to get out was to kill himself.

    When he woke up hours later in a pool of blood, the psychedelic trip that had gripped him was waning. Horrified, he managed to call an ambulance. As he recovered, the college student...

    05/05/2015 - 15:00 Chemistry, Science & Society
  • The –est

    Oldest known avian relative of today’s birds found in China

    Two partial skeletons unearthed in northeastern China have dashed the record for the oldest avian relatives of today's birds.

    The remains belonged to a species, Archaeornithura meemannae, that lived 130.7 million years ago — about 6 million years earlier than the previous record holders. Fossil hunters discovered bones of the hummingbird-sized creatures embedded in siltstone...

    05/05/2015 - 12:26 Paleontology, Animals
  • Context

    Nobel laureate foresees mind-expanding future of physics

    A century from now, when biologists are playing games of clones and engineers are playing games of drones, physicists will still pledge their loyalty to the Kingdoms of Substance and Force.

    Physicists know the subjects of these kingdoms as fermions and bosons. Fermions are the fundamental particles of matter; bosons transmit forces that govern the behavior of the matter particles. The...

    05/05/2015 - 12:01 Physics
  • Screentime

    Explore an asteroid with ‘Vesta Trek’

    Budding interplanetary explorers can satisfy their wanderlust with Vesta Trek, a web-based application that lets users explore the asteroid Vesta.

    The app uses data from the Dawn spacecraft, which orbited the asteroid from July 2011 to September 2012. Users can overlay maps of geology,...

    05/05/2015 - 07:00 Planetary Science
  • Science Ticker

    Stretchy nerves help some big whales open wide

    Stretchy nerves help some whales stuff their mouths with fish.

    Rorqual whales, which include the behemoth blue whale and the fin whale, have nerves in their tongues and mouths that stretch and recoil like rubber bands,...

    05/04/2015 - 14:44 Animals, Physiology
  • Science Visualized

    ‘Brainbow’ illuminates cellular connections

    A mouse’s optic nerve glows in a rainbow of colors in the micrograph above.

    ...

    05/04/2015 - 09:30 Genetics, Cells