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  • Scicurious

    Most Americans like science — and are willing to pay for it

    Americans don’t hate science. Quite the contrary. In fact, 79 percent of Americans think science has made their lives easier, a 2014 Pew Research Center survey found. More than 60 percent of people also believe that government funding for science is essential to its success.

    But should the United States spend more money on scientific research than it already does? A layperson’s answer to...

    03/24/2017 - 13:00 Science & Society
  • News

    Ancient Romans may have been cozier with Huns than they let on

    Nomadic warriors and herders known as the Huns are described in historical accounts as having instigated the fifth century fall of the Roman Empire under Attila’s leadership. But the invaders weren’t always so fierce. Sometimes they shared rather than fought with the Romans, new evidence suggests.

    Huns and farmers living around the Roman Empire’s eastern border, where the Danube River...

    03/24/2017 - 11:38 Archaeology, Anthropology
  • It's Alive

    How one enslaving wasp eats through another

    Parasites can drive their hosts to do weird, dumb things. But in certain oak trees, the parasites themselves get played.

    “Creepy and awesome,” says Kelly Weinersmith of Rice University in Houston, who has helped reveal a Russian doll of nested parasitisms.

    The saga begins when two majestic live oak species in the southeastern United States send out new shoots, and female crypt gall...

    03/16/2017 - 12:00 Animals, Ecology, Plants
  • News

    How to grow toxin-free corn

    Corn genetically engineered to make ninjalike molecules can launch an attack on invading fungi, stopping the production of carcinogenic toxins.

    These specialized RNA molecules lie in wait until they detect Aspergillus, a mold that can turn grains and beans into health hazards. Then the molecules pounce, stopping the mold from producing a key protein responsible for making aflatoxins,...

    03/10/2017 - 14:00 Genetics, Agriculture
  • Science & the Public

    Data-driven crime prediction fails to erase human bias

    Big data is everywhere these days and police departments are no exception. As law enforcement agencies are tasked with doing more with less, many are using predictive policing tools. These tools feed various data into algorithms to flag people likely to be involved with future crimes or to predict where crimes will occur.

    In the years since Time magazine named predictive policing as one...

    03/08/2017 - 10:00 Science & Society
  • News

    Magnetism helps black holes blow off gas

    Black holes are a bit like babies when they eat: Some food goes in, and some gets flung back out into space. Astronomers now say they understand how these meals become so messy — and it’s a trait all black holes share, no matter their size.

    Magnetic fields drive the turbulent winds that blow gas away from black holes, says Keigo Fukumura, an astrophysicist at James Madison University in...

    03/06/2017 - 11:00 Astronomy
  • News

    Wild elephants clock shortest shut-eye recorded for mammals

    Fitbit-style tracking of two wild African elephants suggests their species could break sleep records for mammals. The elephants get by just fine on about two hours of sleep a day. Much of that shut-eye comes while standing up — the animals sleep lying down only once every three or four days, new data show.

    Most of what scientists previously knew about sleeping elephants came from captive...

    03/01/2017 - 14:01 Animals, Neuroscience
  • Wild Things

    Most fish turned into fishmeal are species that we could be eating

    A person growing up in Peru in the 1970s or 1980s probably didn’t eat anchoveta, the local species of anchovies. The stinky, oily fish was a food fit only for animals or the very poor. The anchoveta fishery may have been (and still is, in many years) the world’s largest, but it wasn’t one that put food on the table.

    For thousands of years, though, anchoveta fed the people of Peru. It was...

    02/27/2017 - 07:00 Sustainability, Oceans, Animals
  • It's Alive

    Coconut crab pinches like a lion, eats like a dumpster diver

    A big coconut crab snaps its outsized left claw as hard as a lion can bite, new measurements suggest. So what does a land crab the size of a small house cat do with all that pinch power?

    For starters, it protests having its claw-force measured, says Shin-ichiro Oka of the Okinawa Churashima Foundation in Motobu, Japan. “The coconut crab is very shy,” he says. It doesn’t attack people...

    02/21/2017 - 07:00 Animals, Ecology, Biophysics
  • News

    Malaria molecule makes blood extra-alluring to mosquitoes

    Malaria parasites seduce mosquitoes on the sly.

    Plasmodium falciparum parasites produce a molecule that makes parasite-infected blood more attractive to malaria-transmitting mosquitoes, researchers report online February 9 in Science. The insects slurp up this enticing meal, helping the parasite spread to new hosts.

    “It’s a really intriguing glimpse into how Plasmodium might have...

    02/09/2017 - 14:00 Immune Science