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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 meters below the...

    08/23/2013 - 12:00 Earth
  • Food for Thought

    Troubling Meaty 'Estrogen'

    Women take note. Researchers find that a chemical that forms in overcooked meat, especially charred portions, is a potent mimic of estrogen, the primary female sex hormone. That's anything but appetizing, since studies have linked a higher lifetime cumulative exposure to estrogen in women with an elevated risk of breast cancer.

    Indeed, the new finding offers a "biologically...

    10/17/2007 - 01:38 Nutrition
  • Feature

    Fractal or Fake?

    Jackson Pollock couldn't possibly have been thinking of fractals when he started flinging and dripping paint from a stick onto canvas. After all, mathematicians didn't develop the idea of a fractal until a couple of decades later. But if one physicist is right, Pollock ended up painting fractals anyway. And that mathematical quality may explain why Pollock's seemingly chaotic streams of paint...

    02/20/2007 - 10:14 Humans & Society
  • Food for Thought

    New Estimates of the Shark-Fin Trade

    Immense numbers of sharks each year are slaughtered for their fins—not meat, just their fins. This harvest helps feed a growing appetite throughout Asia for a popular soup, one with snob appeal comparable to that of caviar. Indeed, a single bowl of shark-fin soup can cost $100 in a high-end Hong Kong restaurant.

    The key ingredient of shark-fin soup is...

    11/01/2006 - 13:22 Earth & Environment
  • Feature

    Venting Concerns

    Researchers cruising the South Pacific between Tonga and Fiji study huge snails that, aided by an abundance of bacteria housed in their gills, feed off plumes of metal-rich compounds at active hydrothermal vents. Scientists working off the California coast use chemical-sniffing probes, robotically driven subs, and seafloor-tethered temperature sensors to watch flows of lava pave over a once-...

    10/03/2006 - 10:43 Humans & Society
  • News

    Fish as Farmers: Reef residents tend an algal crop

    A damselfish cultivates underwater gardens of an algal species that researchers haven't found growing on its own.

    The special alga could be the fishy version of people's domesticated crops, says Hiroki Hata of Kyoto University in Japan. Growth tests of the alga, surveys of its distribution, and genetic analyses support that idea, he and Makoto Kato say in an upcoming Biology...

    08/09/2006 - 12:05 Ecology
  • News

    Terrific Timekeeper: Optical atomic clock beats world standard

    Physicists in Colorado say that they've refined an innovative atomic clock to be more precise than the breed of clocks that's been the best for 50 years.

    The advance indicates that the reign of atomic clocks tuned to the element cesium is coming to an end, says physicist James C. Bergquist of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, Colo., who led the...

    07/19/2006 - 11:23 Physics
  • News

    Wary male spiders woo lifelessly

    Certain male spiders confront the threat of a cannibalistic female with a novel tactic: They play dead while having sex.

    Nursery spiders (Pisaura mirabilis) belong to a family known for violent females that, on occasion, attack and eat males attempting courtship, notes Trine Bilde of Århus University in Denmark.

    Biologists already knew that males of this species have one method...

    03/28/2006 - 11:53 Animals
  • News

    Cold and Deep: Antarctica's Lake Vostok has two big neighbors

    Trapped beneath Antarctica's kilometers-thick ice sheet are two bodies of water that rival North America's Great Lakes, new analyses suggest. The geological setting of these huge, unfrozen lakes hints that they may harbor ecosystems that have been isolated for millions of years.

    More than 140 lakes lie buried beneath varying thicknesses of Antarctic ice, but most of them are...

    02/01/2006 - 12:56 Earth
  • Letters to the Editor

    Letters from the January 7, 2006, issue of Science News

    Death in the Americas

    I was wondering if researchers have given any thought to the idea that in the same way that disease devastated human populations after the European discovery of the Americas, perhaps disease was a contributing factor in the demise of much of the fauna of the Western Hemisphere ("Caribbean Extinctions: Climate change probably wasn't the culprit," SN: 10/29/05, p. 275)....

    01/04/2006 - 12:38 Humans & Society