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Cassini is bravely going where no spacecraft has gone before — between Saturn and its rings.
The probe, which launched in 1997 and has orbited Saturn since 2004, starts this daring expedition April 22. It will fly through the 2,400-kilometer-wide gap between Saturn and its rings 22 times before plunging into the planet’s atmosphere and burning up on Sept. 15....
50 Years Ago
Drifting theories shake up geology
Continental drift, a theory often considered amusing but rarely important, seems about to become the focus of a revolution in geology. At the least, it has already split the geological community into those who find the evidence for it “formidable” and those who think it is not yet formidable enough to constitute a proof. — Science News, April 29, 1967...
Biologist Leo Smith held an unusual job while an undergraduate student in San Diego. Twice a year, he tagged along on a chartered boat with elderly passengers. The group needed him to identify two particular species of rockfish, the chilipepper rockfish and the California shortspine thornyhead. Once he’d found the red-orange creatures, the passengers would stab themselves in the arms with the...
Got a mouse in the house? Blame yourself. Not your housekeeping, but your species. Humans never intended to live a mouse-friendly life. But as we moved into a settled life, some animals — including a few unassuming mice — settled in, too. In the process, their species prospered — and took over the world.
The rise and fall of the house mouse’s fortunes followed the stability and...
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Blame physics — not kindergarten-level clumsiness — for perpetually untied shoelaces. The combined forces from legs swinging and feet pounding the pavement create a perfect lace-loosening storm, scientists report April 12 in Proceedings of the Royal Society A.
Mechanical engineer Oliver O'Reilly of the University of California, Berkeley was familiar with the...
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Sometimes it seems like every year offers an occasion to celebrate some sort of Einstein anniversary.
In 2015, everybody lauded the 100th anniversary of his general theory of relativity. Last year, scientists celebrated the centennial of his prediction of gravitational waves — by reporting the discovery of gravitational waves. And this year marks the centennial...
News in Brief
A stellar game of chicken between two young stars about 500 years ago has produced some fantastic celestial fireworks, new images released on April 7 by the European Southern Observatory reveal.
Whether or not the stellar duo collided is unclear. But their close encounter sent hundreds of streamers of gas, dust and other young stars shooting into space like an exploding firecracker....
50 Years Ago
Next in birth control
The pill is a sledgehammer approach to contraception.... A second-generation of [drugs] is being designed to do the job without upsetting a woman’s normal cycle of ovulation and menstruation.... A contraceptive administered to the man can be given only for a short time without actually affecting the development of sperm … and, therefore, is not being considered for...
It is the dazzling star of the biotech world: a powerful new tool that can deftly and precisely alter the structure of DNA. It promises cures for diseases, sturdier crops, malaria-resistant mosquitoes and more. Frenzy over the technique — known as CRISPR/Cas9 — is in full swing. Every week, new CRISPR findings are unfurled in scientific journals. In the courts, universities fight over patents...
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...