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  • Feature

    Life under ice

    Even by Antarctic standards, the Lake Vostok research station is inhospitable. The outpost at the heart of the frozen continent holds the record for the lowest naturally occurring temperature ever observed on Earth. Scientists commonly describe the place as punishing, unforgiving, the most desolate place on the planet.

    That’s nothing. Nearly 4,000...

    08/23/2013 - 12:00 Earth
  • News

    Laser proposed to deflect space junk

    It won’t prevent Armageddon, but a simple ground-based laser system could nudge small pieces of space junk away from satellites to prevent collisions, a new study suggests.

    The proposed system uses photons generated by a medium-power laser and aimed into space through a 1.5-meter telescope. The photons exert pressure on space debris in low-Earth orbit, gently pushing the...

    03/22/2011 - 17:19 Atom & Cosmos
  • News

    Climate not really what doomed large North American mammals

    Evidently, my dear Watson, the climate didn’t do it. Scientists weighing in on a cold case open since the end of the most recent ice age — the massive die-offs of North America’s largest mammals — arrived at that conclusion courtesy of some very tiny clues. The spores of a fungus that thrived in and on those creatures’ dung suggest changes in habitat didn’t cause the extinctions. As a result...

    11/19/2009 - 14:24 Life & Evolution
  • News

    Seafloor Chemistry: Life's building blocks made inorganically

    Hydrocarbons in the fluids spewing from a set of hydrothermal vents on the seafloor of the central Atlantic were produced by inorganic chemical reactions within the ocean crust, scientists suggest. The finding holds possibly profound implications for the origins of life.

    The Lost City hydrothermal field, which sits on the side of an undersea mountain about 2,500...

    01/30/2008 - 12:22 Earth
  • News

    Smells Funny: Fish schools break up over body odor

    Just an hour's swim in water lightly contaminated with a common pollutant can turn fish into rejects with an odor that causes their untainted schoolmates to shun them, researchers say.

    In a lab test, brief exposure to 4-nonylphenol (4-NP), a surfactant used in many soaps, detergents, and other products, disrupted the normal tendency of banded killifish (Fundulus diaphanus)...

    10/24/2007 - 10:35 Animals