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  • Reviews & Previews

    Smart plants can teach us a thing or two

    The Revolutionary Genius of PlantsStefano MancusoAtria Books, $30

    More than 200 years ago, French botanist René Desfontaines instructed a student to monitor the behavior of Mimosa pudica plants as he drove them around Paris in a carriage. Mimosa pudica quickly closes its leaves when touched — presumably as a defense mechanism. Desfontaines was interested in the plants’ response to...

    09/18/2018 - 07:00 Plants, Evolution, Biophysics
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Poached’ offers a deep, disturbing look into the illegal wildlife trade

    PoachedRachel Love NuwerDa Capo Press, $28

    Perhaps the most unsettling scene in Poached, by science journalist Rachel Love Nuwer, comes early in the book, in a fancy restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The author and two friends sit down and are handed leather-bound menus offering roasted civet, fried tortoise, stewed pangolin and other delicacies made from rare or endangered...

    09/14/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Conservation, Science & Society
  • September 15, 2018

    09/11/2018 - 14:11
  • Feature

    How plant microbes could feed the world and save endangered species

    One fine Hawaiian day in 2015, Geoff Zahn and Anthony Amend set off on an eight-hour hike. They climbed a jungle mountain on the island of Oahu, swatting mosquitoes and skirting wallows of wild pigs. The two headed to the site where a patch of critically endangered Phyllostegia kaalaensis had been planted a few months earlier. What they found was dispiriting.

    “All the plants were gone,”...

    09/06/2018 - 11:00 Agriculture, Plants, Microbes
  • 50 years ago, a pessimistic view for heart transplants

    Transplanted hearts will be shortlivedNow that heart recipients can realistically look forward to leaving the hospital and taking up a semblance of normal life, the question arises, what kind of semblance, and for how long? South Africa’s Dr. Christiaan Barnard, performer of the first heart transplant, has a sobering view…. “A transplanted heart will last only five years — if we’re...
    09/06/2018 - 07:00 Health
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers’ interest piqued by Parker Solar Probe, general relativity and more

    Sunny-side up

    NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is on its way to “touch” the sun. Maria Temming reported on the mission before the August 12 launch in “NASA’s Parker probe is about to get up close and personal with the sun” (SN: 7/21/18, p. 12).

    Astronomy writer Lisa Grossman, who wrote a follow-up story, answered readers’ questions about the probe on Reddit.

    Reddit user Gildolen...

    09/06/2018 - 06:15 Astronomy, Physics, Earth
  • Editor's Note

    To boldly go where no robot explorer has gone before

    Space travel still sounds like just about the coolest thing ever, even though we have learned that it brings with it nausea, sleeplessness, radiation exposure, muscle loss, vision changes, cranky fellow explorers and the challenge of going to the bathroom in zero gravity. And that’s just with the “easy” stuff, like living on the International Space Station. Let’s not even get started...
    09/06/2018 - 06:00 Astronomy, Science & Society
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Accessory to War’ probes the uneasy alliance between space science and the military

    Accessory to WarNeil deGrasse Tyson and Avis LangW.W. Norton & Co., $30

    Late-night comedians skewered Vice President Mike Pence in August when he announced preliminary plans for a new branch of the U.S. military dubbed the “Space Force.” Jimmy Kimmel likened the idea to a Michael Bay action movie, while Jimmy Fallon quipped that the Space Force’s chain of command would go “E.T...

    09/04/2018 - 10:00 Astronomy, Technology, History of Science, Science & Society
  • Science Visualized

    See the ‘periodic table’ of molecular knots

    Like a scouting handbook for the molecular realm, a new chart reveals how to tie molecules up in knots of increasing complexity.

    Mathematicians have cataloged billions of distinct knot types, but researchers have been able to make only a few molecular versions. Scientists craft the minuscule knots using a solution filled with building blocks of curved strings of atoms, which glom onto...

    08/27/2018 - 07:00 Chemistry, Physics, Materials
  • News

    A new quantum device defies the concepts of ‘before’ and ‘after’

    One thing leads to another. It sounds obvious, but in the quantum realm, the saying doesn’t always ring true. A new quantum device can jumble up a sequence of two events so that they take place in both orders simultaneously, researchers report in a paper in press in Physical Review Letters.

    “In everyday life, we are used to thinking of events having a definite order,” says physicist...

    08/23/2018 - 07:00 Quantum Physics