The New Horizons spacecraft sent back three of the most detailed images of Pluto to date shortly before the probe entered a safe mode on July 4. The pictures, taken when New Horizons was about 13 million kilometers from the dwarf planet, show three different swaths of the icy surface as Pluto slowly rotated on...
News in Brief
A giant planet is making a splash in the belt of debris orbiting the young star Beta Pictoris. Spiral waves driven by the planet whip around the dusty disk, researchers report online June 24 at arXiv.org.
Like a pebble dropped into water, the planet sends out ripples through the dust and rock...
Cluttered terrain won’t block this cockroach-bot. A sleek, rounded shell lets the six-legged robot scurry through tight spaces, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley report online June 22 in Bioinspiration & Biomimetics.
The robo-roach is short and squat...
Cramming a big brain into a skull may be as easy as just wadding it up. The same physical rules that dictate how a paper ball crumples also describe how brains get their wrinkles, scientists suggest July 3 in Science.
That insight, arrived at in part by balling up sheets of standard-sized A4 office paper...
Some genetically male Australian bearded dragons are growing up as fully functional females in the wild — the first reptiles confirmed to reverse sex under natural conditions.
Eleven of 131 Pogona vitticeps lizards caught at several sites in southeastern Australia during three years had female sex organs but the male ZZ set of sex chromosomes, says Clare Holleley of the...
For much of the last year, the most-read story on sciencenews.org was not about a faraway exoplanet or a cunning creature’s adaptations to an exotic locale. It was a short report, in some ways unsurprising. In 26 different weeks since it appeared in June 2014,...
Letters to the Editor
To edit or not
A controversial paper about modifying genes in fertilized human eggs raised some serious ethical concerns. Tina Hesman Saey covered researchers’ arguments for and against this type of...
Tangled nests of magnetic fields burst from sunspots on the solar surface. The spots appear blue and yellow in this false color composite photograph, which was taken in October by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory and released in May. The pale streaks trace magnetic field lines, which stretch up to 200,000 kilometers above the surface (black).
In visible light, sunspots look like dark...
They’ve appeared on television and in magazines — Katy Perry, Johnny Depp and other celebrities vaping electronic cigarettes. The high-tech gadgets, marketed as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, seem to be available everywhere, from Internet suppliers and specialty vaping shops to 24-hour convenience marts.
E-cigarettes have become the fashionable new electronic toy....
The Science Life
If the moon is up, there’s a good chance Joseph Taylor is on his ham radio, using a homemade antenna in his backyard to bounce signals off the moon’s pockmarked face. It’s a skill Taylor began cultivating in 2003, shortly before he retired from Princeton University, where he used radio waves to probe the secrets of pulsars, the spinning, magnetized neutron stars that emit bursts of radiation...