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  • Your Free Audiobook - Planet Drama

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    From asteroids and gamma-ray bursts to volcanoes, landslides and tornadoes, there are a lot of disasters with the potential to wipe out life on Earth. The stories that follow from Science News and Science News for Students explore the natural disasters that have killed flora and fauna, including humans, throughout history on the planet. Listen and learn about how scientists are trying to...

    05/22/2018 - 18:44
  • Feature

    Meet the speedsters of the plant world

    Somewhere in the wetlands of South Carolina, a buzzing fly alights on a rosy-pink surface. As the fly explores the strange scenery, it unknowingly brushes a small hair sticking up like a slender sword. Strolling along, the fly accidentally grazes another hair. Suddenly, the pink surface closes in from both sides, snapping shut like a pair of ravenous jaws. The blur of movement lasts only a...

    05/16/2018 - 12:11 Plants, Biophysics, Physics
  • Editor's Note

    We’ve got the genes for science journalism

    Before visiting my parents for spring break, I thought, “Gee, wouldn’t it be fun if I bought them those genetic ancestry kits?” But I never got around to making that purchase, and after reading Tina Hesman Saey’s cover story in this issue, I realize I might have inadvertently made a wise decision.

    Consumer DNA test kits have become wildly popular, with millions of people hoping for...

    05/16/2018 - 07:15 Science & Society, Genetics
  • Growth Curve

    Kids are selective imitators, not extreme copycats

    Psychologists generally regard preschoolers as supreme copycats. Those little bundles of energy will imitate whatever an adult does to remove a prize from a box, including irrelevant and just plain silly stuff. If an experimenter pats a container twice before lifting a latch to open it, so will most kids who watched the demonstration.

    There’s an official scientific name for mega-mimicry...

    05/15/2018 - 07:00 Child Development
  • News

    Another hint of Europa’s watery plumes found in 20-year-old Galileo data

    Jupiter’s icy moon Europa may have been spitting into space for at least 20 years. Analyzing old Galileo mission data suggests that the NASA spacecraft flew through a plume of water vapor from the moon during a 1997 flyby, researchers report May 14 in Nature Astronomy.

    “We now have very compelling support for the idea that Europa does possess plumes,” says study coauthor Xianzhe Jia, a...

    05/14/2018 - 11:00 Planetary Science, Astrobiology
  • News

    The window for learning a language may stay open surprisingly long

    Language learning isn’t kid stuff anymore. In fact, it never was, a provocative new study concludes.

    A crucial period for learning the rules and structure of a language lasts up to around age 17 or 18, say psychologist Joshua Hartshorne of MIT and colleagues.

    Previous research had suggested that grammar-learning ability flourished in early childhood before hitting a dead end around...

    05/11/2018 - 11:02 Language, Psychology
  • Feature

    The recipes for solar system formation are getting a rewrite

    With a mortar and pestle, Christy Till blends together the makings of a distant planet. In her geology lab at Arizona State University in Tempe, Till carefully measures out powdered minerals, tips them into a metal capsule and bakes them in a high-pressure furnace that can reach close to 35,000 times Earth’s atmospheric pressure and 2,000° Celsius.

    In this interplanetary test kitchen,...

    05/11/2018 - 09:00 Exoplanets, Planetary Science, Astronomy
  • Growth Curve

    Is it an invasion of your kids’ privacy to post pictures of them on social media?

    Like millions of parents, I post pictures of my kid on Instagram. When she was born, her father and I had a brief conversation about whether it was “dangerous” in a very nebulous sense. Comforted by the fact that I use a fake name on my account, we agreed to not post nudie pics and then didn’t give it much more thought. Until recently.

    As she gets older, and privacy on social media...

    05/08/2018 - 12:00 Parenting
  • Context

    A celebration of curiosity for Feynman’s 100th birthday

    Richard Feynman was a curious character.

    He advertised as much in the subtitle of his autobiography, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character. Everybody knew that, in many respects, Feynman was an oddball.

    But he was curious in every other sense of the word as well. His curiosity about nature, about how the world works, led to a Nobel Prize in physics...

    05/08/2018 - 06:00 History of Science
  • Feature

    Fighting like an animal doesn’t always mean a duel to the death

    Pick an animal.

    Choose wisely because in this fantasy you’ll transform into the creature and duel against one of your own. If you care about survival, go for the muscular, multispiked stag roaring at a rival. Never, ever pick the wingless male fig wasp. Way too dangerous.

    This advice sounds exactly wrong. But that’s because many stereotypes of animal conflict get the real biology...

    05/03/2018 - 15:05 Animals