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  • Editor's Note

    Building a bright future for science journalism

    As a longtime reader of Science News, I’m delighted to join the staff of this remarkable publication, which has been explaining the complexities of science, medicine and technology for more than 90 years. Science News hasn’t been standing still; people can find our breaking news and in-depth coverage in the flagship magazine as well as on the Science News website, which drew more than...
    02/22/2018 - 10:46 Science & Society
  • Feature

    How to build a human brain

    In a white lab coat and blue latex gloves, Neda Vishlaghi peers through a light microscope at six milky-white blobs. Each is about the size of a couscous grain, bathed in the pale orange broth of a petri dish. With tweezers in one hand and surgical scissors in the other, she deftly snips one tiny clump in half.

    When growing human brains, sometimes you need to do some pruning.

    The...

    02/20/2018 - 15:30 Human Development
  • Exhibit

    Modern tech unravels mysteries of Egyptian mummy portraits

    Everybody’s a critic. Even back in second century Egypt.

    While digging in Tebtunis in northern Egypt in the winter of 1899–1900, British archaeologists stumbled upon portraits of affluent Greco-Egyptians placed over the faces of mummies. One grave contained an ink and chalk sketch, a bit larger than a standard sheet of printer paper, of a woman from around the years A.D. 140 to 160. The...

    02/19/2018 - 08:00 Archaeology, Technology, Science & Society
  • News

    Trove of hummingbird flight data reveals secrets of nimble flying

    View the video

    Lab-grade flight tracking has gone wild, creating a broad new way of studying some of the flashiest of natural acrobats, wild hummingbirds.

    One of the findings: Bigger hummingbird species don’t seem handicapped by their size when it comes to agility. A battleship may not be as maneuverable as a kayak, but in a study of 25 species, larger hummingbirds outdid smaller...

    02/08/2018 - 18:37 Animals, Biophysics, Evolution
  • 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
  • Scicurious

    Wikipedia has become a science reference source even though scientists don’t cite it

    Wikipedia: The settler of dinnertime disputes and the savior of those who cheat on trivia night. Quick, what country has the Nile’s headwaters? What year did Gershwin write “Rhapsody in Blue”? Wikipedia has the answer to all your burning trivia questions — including ones about science.

    With hundreds of thousands of scientific entries, Wikipedia offers a quick reference for the molecular...

    02/05/2018 - 07:00 Science & Society
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers wonder about the universe's expansion and more

    Pedal to the universal metal

    Some cosmologists hope to explain the universe’s accelerating expansion by fully accounting for the universe’s lumpiness, Emily Conover reported in “Simulating the universe using Einstein’s theory of gravity may solve cosmic puzzles” (SN: 11/25/17, p. 22).

    The universe’s accelerating expansion “is apparently based on the observation of objects that are...

    01/24/2018 - 13:34 Cosmology, Archaeology, Astronomy
  • Feature

    Somewhere in the brain is a storage device for memories

    People tend to think of memories as deeply personal, ephemeral possessions — snippets of emotions, words, colors and smells stitched into our unique neural tapestries as life goes on. But a strange series of experiments conducted decades ago offered a different, more tangible perspective. The mind-bending results have gained unexpected support from recent studies.

    In 1959, James Vernon...

    01/24/2018 - 07:00 Neuroscience
  • 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
  • Feature

    How to keep humans from ruining the search for life on Mars

    T he Okarian rover was in trouble. The yellow Humvee was making slow progress across a frigid, otherworldly landscape when planetary scientist Pascal Lee felt the rover tilt backward. Out the windshield, Lee, director of NASA’s Haughton Mars Project, saw only sky. The rear treads had broken through a crack in the sea ice and were sinking into the cold water.

    True, there are signs of...

    01/10/2018 - 11:30 Planetary Science, Astrobiology