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  • Feature

    AI can learn real-world skills from playing StarCraft and Minecraft

    Dario Wünsch was feeling confident. The 28-year-old from Leipzig, Germany, was about to become the first professional gamer to take on the artificial intelligence program AlphaStar in the rapid-fire video game StarCraft II. Wünsch had been professionally playing StarCraft II, in which competitors command alien fleets vying for territory, for nearly a decade. No way could he lose this five-...

    05/14/2019 - 12:07 Artificial Intelligence, Computing, Robotics
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers were curious about green icebergs, aliens and more

    Going green

    Researchers found iron oxides trapped in a sample of green Antarctic ice. The compounds may explain why typically blue-hued icebergs can sometimes appear green, Jeremy Rehm reported in “Tiny bits of iron may explain why some icebergs are green” (SN: 3/30/19, p. 12).

    “Since icebergs can drift for thousands of miles, and because iron is a limiting nutrient for algae, I...

    05/11/2019 - 07:00 Ecology, Astronomy, Health
  • 50 years ago, scientists tried to transplant part of a human eye

    Transplants: Part of a whole eye —

    After an attempted cornea transplant failed, ophthalmologists in Houston, Tex., tried a more daring experiment to restore the vision of 54-year-old John Madden…. They transplanted an entire eye from a donor who had died of a brain tumor.… [Later, the doctor who did the surgery] announced that only the front part of the donor’s eye had been...

    05/09/2019 - 07:00 Biomedicine
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    05/07/2019 - 15:21
  • News

    Why war’s emotional wounds run deeper for some kids and not others

    After her husband’s death in Syria’s civil war, Amouna Sharekh Housh gathered her eight children and headed for safety in the neighboring country of Lebanon. At the Lebanese border, Islamic State militants demanded that Housh hand her children over to them. She refused, even when an ISIS soldier put a gun against the head of her then 9-year-old son, Manar. After passing through that hellish...

    04/28/2019 - 08:00 Mental Health, Psychology
  • 50 years ago, scientists fought over element 104’s discovery

    Another route to 104 —

    In 1964, a few radioactive atoms existed for three-tenths of a second in a Soviet laboratory, and G.N. Flerov and his colleagues, who detected it, announced the discovery of element 104. But the announcement was met with skepticism in the United States.… Now, U.S. scientists declare they have gone their own route to corral the elusive element. — Science News,...

    04/25/2019 - 07:00 Chemistry, Physics
  • Feature

    When anxiety happens as early as preschool, treatments can help

    When Molly was 10 months old, her parents took her to a Halloween party with other young families. While the other babies explored their surroundings, Molly sat and watched. She’s always been cautious, says Molly’s mom, Rachel. Early on, though, the little girl’s shyness didn’t raise red flags.

    By the time Molly turned 4, however, life was getting harder — for everyone. Even though she...

    04/21/2019 - 06:00 Psychology, Mental Health, Neuroscience, Clinical Trials
  • Feature

    Climate change made the Arctic greener. Now parts of it are turning brown.

    The Chugach people of southern Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula have picked berries for generations. Tart blueberries and sweet, raspberry-like salmonberries — an Alaska favorite — are baked into pies and boiled into jams. But in the summer of 2009, the bushes stayed brown and the berries never came. 

    For three more years, harvests failed. “It hit the communities very hard,” says Nathan Lojewski...

    04/11/2019 - 07:00 Climate, Ecosystems, Plants
  • News in Brief

    A common food additive may make the flu vaccine less effective

    ORLANDO — A common food additive may make it more difficult to fight the flu.

    Vaccinated mice that got food containing the additive, tert-butylhydroquinone (tBHQ), took three days longer to recover from the flu than mice that ate tBHQ-free food. The unpublished result suggests the common additive may make flu vaccines less effective, toxicologist Robert Freeborn of Michigan State...

    04/08/2019 - 15:54 Health
  • News

    Mathematicians may have found the fastest way to multiply huge numbers

    Multiplying 2 x 2 is easy. But multiplying two numbers with more than a billion digits each — that takes some serious computation.

    The multiplication technique taught in grade school may be simple, but for really big numbers, it’s too slow to be useful. Now, two mathematicians say that they’ve found the fastest way yet to multiply extremely large figures.

    The duo claim to have...

    04/08/2019 - 07:00 Numbers, Computing