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E.g., 01/20/2017
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  • News in Brief

    Earth’s last major warm period was as hot as today

    The last time Earth’s thermostat was cranked as high as it is today, sea levels were high enough to completely drown New Orleans (had it existed at the time), new research suggests.

    Ocean surface temperatures around 125,000 years ago were comparable to those today, researchers report in the Jan. 20 Science. Previous estimates suggested that this period, the height of the last warm phase...

    01/19/2017 - 14:00 Climate, Earth, Oceans
  • News

    In debate over origin of fairy circles, both sides might be right

    Ecologists still don’t believe in fairies. But it may take magic to resolve a long-running debate over what causes the oddly regular spots of bare soil called fairy circles. A new approach now suggests combining the two main hypotheses.

    Fairy circles, each among about six close neighbors, sprinkle arid grasslands in southern Africa and Australia “like a polka dot dress,” says ecologist...

    01/19/2017 - 07:00 Ecology, Plants, Animals
  • News in Brief

    Heart-hugging robot does the twist (and squeeze)

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    A new squishy robot could keep hearts from skipping a beat.

    A silicone sleeve slipped over pigs’ hearts helped pump blood when the hearts failed, researchers report January 18 in Science Translational Medicine. If the sleeve works in humans, it could potentially keep weak hearts pumping, and buy time for patients waiting for a transplant.

    To make the device...

    01/18/2017 - 14:00 Technology, Robotics
  • Wild Things

    A message to rock climbers: Be kind to nature

    For the millions of people who have taken up the sport of rock climbing, a cliff face is a challenge, a vertical puzzle solved only with the proper placement of hands and feet. Look closely, though, and those crevices and cracks that provide hand- and footholds also provide homes for a variety of plants, invertebrates and other easily overlooked species.

    People who participate in outdoor...

    01/18/2017 - 07:00 Conservation, Plants
  • How Bizarre

    Weird wave found in Venus’ wind-whipped atmosphere

    With scorching temperatures and a mind-numbingly slow rotation (one Venus day lasts 243 Earth days), Venus was already a contender for weirdest planet in the solar system. Now add a giant arc-shaped structure to its list of oddities. The mysterious 10,000-kilometer-long structure was so big that it appeared to stretch between the planet’s poles. And it didn’t budge, even as winds in the planet...

    01/17/2017 - 18:11 Planetary Science, Astronomy
  • News

    Petrified tree rings tell ancient tale of sun’s behavior

    The sun has been in the same routine for at least 290 million years, new research suggests.

    Ancient tree rings from the Permian period record a roughly 11-year cycle of wet and dry periods, climate fluctuations caused by the ebbing and flowing of solar activity, researchers propose January 9 in Geology. The discovery would push back the earliest evidence of today’s 11-year solar cycle by...

    01/17/2017 - 07:00 Climate, Astronomy
  • News in Brief

    New ‘smart’ fibers curb fires in lithium-ion batteries

    Hoverboards and certain cell phones powered by lithium-ion batteries occasionally go up in flames. Scientists now have a new plan for squelching these fires before they flare out of control: incorporating a flame retardant in the battery that’s released if temperatures get too toasty.

    Within lithium-ion batteries, ions travel between positive and negative electrodes through a liquid...

    01/13/2017 - 14:00 Materials, Technology
  • Science Visualized

    Shimmering soap bubbles have a dark side

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    Zoom in on a soap bubble just before it bursts and brilliant, complex patterns emerge. Shimmery rainbows appear in thicker portions of the soap film, while clusters of dark spots appear in the thinnest regions.

    The thickness of the soap film determines the color seen. Light rays that reflect off of the top and bottom of the film combine to amplify particular...

    01/12/2017 - 07:00 Biophysics
  • Science Ticker

    Ancient oddball invertebrate finds its place on the tree of life

    Hyoliths are evolutionary misfits no more.

    This class of ancient marine invertebrates has now been firmly pegged as lophophorates, a group whose living members include horseshoe worms and lamp shells, concludes an analysis of more than 1,500 fossils, including preserved soft tissue.  

    The soft-bodied creatures, encased in conical shells, concealed U-shaped guts and rings of...

    01/11/2017 - 14:30 Paleontology, Animals, Evolution
  • News in Brief

    The moon is still old

    The moon formed at least 4.51 billion years ago, no more than 60 million years after the formation of the solar system, researchers report online January 11 in Science Advances. This update to the moon’s age is in line with some previous estimates (SN Online: 4/17/15), although some argue the moon formed 150 million to 200 million years after the solar system’s birth.

    A precise age is...

    01/11/2017 - 14:00 Planetary Science