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  • News

    Look to penguins to track Antarctic changes

    PORTLAND, Ore. — Penguins preserve records of Antarctic environmental change. The birds’ feathers and eggshells contain the chemical fingerprints of variations in diet, food web structure and even climate, researchers reported February 12 at the American Geophysical Union’s 2018 Ocean Sciences Meeting.

    The Antarctic environment has changed dramatically in recent decades. Overfishing has...

    02/14/2018 - 17:16 Climate, Animals
  • Growth Curve

    Let your kids help you, and other parenting tips from traditional societies

    Hunter-gatherers and farming villagers don’t write parenting handbooks, much less read them. But parents in WEIRD societies — Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic — can still learn a few childrearing lessons from their counterparts in small-scale societies.

    It’s not that Western parents and kids are somehow deficient. But we live in a culture that holds historically...

    02/09/2018 - 08:00 Parenting
  • Feature

    Skyrmions open a door to next-level data storage

    Like sailors and spelunkers, physicists know the power of a sturdy knot.

    Some physicists have tied their hopes for a new generation of data storage to minuscule knotlike structures called skyrmions, which can form in magnetic materials. Incredibly tiny and tough to undo, magnetic skyrmions could help feed humankind’s hunger for ever-smaller electronics.

    On traditional hard drives,...

    02/07/2018 - 15:03 Materials, Physics
  • Feature

    When it’s playtime, many kids prefer reality over fantasy

    Young children travel to fantasy worlds every day, packing just imaginations and a toy or two.

    Some preschoolers scurry across ocean floors carrying toy versions of cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants. Other kids trek to distant universes with miniature replicas of Star Wars robots R2-D2 and C-3PO. Throngs of youngsters fly on broomsticks and cast magic spells with Harry Potter and...

    02/06/2018 - 11:45 Psychology, Anthropology, Archaeology
  • News

    A peek into polar bears’ lives reveals revved-up metabolisms

    View the video

    Female polar bears prowling springtime sea ice have extreme weight swings, some losing more than 10 percent of their body mass in just over a week. And the beginnings of bear video blogging help explain why.

    An ambitious study of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in Alaska has found that their overall metabolic rate is 1.6 times greater than thought, says wildlife...

    02/01/2018 - 15:24 Animals, Physiology, Climate
  • News

    New laser emits a more stable, energy-efficient light beam

    A new type of laser is modeled after an exotic class of materials called topological insulators. And it’s proving more reliable and energy-efficient than its conventional counterparts, paving the way for possible use in quantum communication and next-generation electronics.

    The device, described online February 1 in Science, is composed of a grid of semiconductor rings that convert...

    02/01/2018 - 14:35 Technology, Physics, Materials
  • The Science Life

    Here’s why so many saiga antelope mysteriously died in 2015

    Spring calving season for the saiga antelope of central Kazakhstan is a delight for the researchers who keep tabs on the critically endangered animals. During the day, thousands of newborn saigas lie quiet, hidden within a sea of waving grass. Mothers return twice daily to feed them. “If you come at dawn and dusk, it’s magical,” says E.J. Milner-Gulland, a conservation biologist at the...

    01/29/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Conservation, Microbes
  • Feature

    Your phone is like a spy in your pocket

    Consider everything your smartphone has done for you today. Counted your steps? Deposited a check? Transcribed notes? Navigated you somewhere new?

    Smartphones make for such versatile pocket assistants because they’re equipped with a suite of sensors, including some we may never think — or even know — about, sensing, for example, light, humidity, pressure and temperature.

    Because...

    01/23/2018 - 12:00 Computing, Technology
  • News

    Tiny scales in ancient lagoon may be the first fossil evidence of the moth-butterfly line

    Newly described little scaly bits could push back the fossil record of the moth-and-butterfly branch on the tree of life by some 70 million years. That raises the question of whether the drinking-straw mouthparts evolved long before the flower nectar many drink today.

    The microscopic ridged scales date from roughly 200 million years ago, around the time of one of Earth’s less famous mass...

    01/15/2018 - 07:00 Paleontology, Evolution, Animals
  • News

    Rising CO2 in lakes could keep water fleas from raising their spiky defenses

    Rising carbon dioxide levels could leave some tiny lake dwellers defenseless. Like the oceans, some lakes are experiencing increasing levels of the greenhouse gas, a new study shows. And too much CO2 in the water may leave water fleas, an important part of many lake food webs, too sleepy to fend off predators.

    Detailed observations of lake chemistry over long periods of time are rare....

    01/11/2018 - 16:29 Climate, Ecology