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E.g., 08/18/2017
E.g., 08/18/2017
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  • map of next 15 total solar eclipses
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  • Science Visualized

    Here are the paths of the next 15 total solar eclipses

    August's total solar eclipse won’t be the last time the moon cloaks the sun’s light. From now to 2040, for example, skywatchers around the globe can witness 15 such events.  

    Their predicted paths aren’t random scribbles. Solar eclipses occur in what’s called a Saros cycle — a period that lasts about 18 years, 11 days and eight hours, and is governed by the moon’s orbit. (Lunar eclipses...

    08/18/2017 - 14:30 Astronomy, Planetary Science
  • News

    We share the Milky Way with 100 million black holes

    The Milky Way teems with black holes — about 100 million of them.

    But there’s no reason to fear. “It may sound like a big number, but by astronomical standards, it’s a pretty small number,” says physicist Daniel Holz of the University of Chicago. The number of stars in the Milky Way, for example, is about a thousand times larger.

    Scientists from the University of California, Irvine...

    08/18/2017 - 09:00 Astronomy, Physics
  • News

    Where does the solar wind come from? The eclipse may offer answers

    The sun can’t keep its hands to itself. A constant flow of charged particles streams away from the sun at hundreds of kilometers per second, battering vulnerable planets in its path.

    This barrage is called the solar wind, and it has had a direct role in shaping life in the solar system. It’s thought to have stripped away much of Mars’ atmosphere (SN: 4/29/17, p. 20). Earth is protected...

    08/18/2017 - 07:00 Astronomy, Science & Society, Physics
  • Context

    Eclipses show wrong physics can give right results

    Every few years, for a handful of minutes or so, science shines while the sun goes dark.

    A total eclipse of the sun is, for those who witness it, something like a religious experience. For those who understand it, it is symbolic of science’s triumph over mythology as a way to understand the heavens.

    In ancient Greece, the pioneer philosophers realized that eclipses illustrate how...

    08/17/2017 - 15:30 Astronomy, History of Science
  • News

    Embryos kill off male tissue to become female

    Add a new ingredient to the sugar, spice and everything nice needed to make girls.

    A protein called COUP-TFII is necessary to eliminate male reproductive tissue from female mouse embryos, researchers report in the Aug. 18 Science. For decades, females have been considered the “default” sex in mammals. The new research overturns that idea, showing that making female reproductive organs is...

    08/17/2017 - 14:17 Development
  • News

    How an itch hitches a ride to the brain

    Scientists have traced the sensation of itch to a place you can’t scratch.

    The discomfort of a mosquito bite or an allergic reaction activates itch-sensitive nerve cells in the spinal cord. Those neurons talk to a structure near the base of the brain called the parabrachial nucleus, researchers report in the Aug. 18 Science. It’s a region that’s known to receive information about other...

    08/17/2017 - 14:14 Neuroscience
  • News

    Why are the loops in the sun’s atmosphere so neat and tidy?

    View the video

    When the Aug. 21 solar eclipse unveils the sun’s normally dim atmosphere, the corona will look like an intricate, orderly network of loops, fans and streamers. These features trace the corona’s magnetic field, which guides coronal plasma to take on the shape of tubes and sheets.

    These wispy coronal structures arise from the magnetic field on the sun’s visible surface...

    08/17/2017 - 07:00 Astronomy, Earth, Science & Society, Physics
  • News

    A new tool could one day improve Lyme disease diagnosis

    A new testing method can distinguish between early Lyme disease and a similar tick-borne illness, researchers report. The approach may one day lead to a reliable diagnostic test for Lyme, an illness that can be challenging to identify.

    Using patient blood serum samples, the test accurately discerned early Lyme disease from the similar southern tick‒associated rash illness, or STARI, up...

    08/16/2017 - 16:10 Biomedicine, Health, Microbiology
  • Science Ticker

    Giant larvaceans could be ferrying ocean plastic to the seafloor

    View the video

    Everybody poops, but the poop of bloblike filter feeders called giant larvaceans could be laced with microplastics.

    Every day, these gelatinous creatures (Bathochordaeus stygius) build giant disposable mucus mansions to round up zooplankton into their stomachs — sometimes sifting through around 80 liters of seawater per hour. Kakani Katija and her colleagues at the...

    08/16/2017 - 15:23 Animals, Oceans, Pollution
  • News in Brief

    Robot, heal thyself

    A new type of soft robot can go under the knife and make a full recovery in about a day.

    Researchers fashioned a robotic hand, gripper and muscle from self-healing rubbery material. To test their robots’ resilience, the engineers sliced each with a scalpel, then put them in an oven. After cranking up the heat to 80° Celsius, baking the bots for 40 minutes, then cooling them to room...

    08/16/2017 - 14:09 Robotics, Materials