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  • Say What?

    Earth might once have resembled a hot, steamy doughnut

    Synestia\sin-es-ti-ə \ n.

    A large spinning hunk of hot, vaporized rock that forms when rocky, planet-sized objects collide

    Earth may have taken on a jelly doughnut shape early in its history. The rocky planet was spinning through space about 4.5 billion years ago when it smacked into a Mars-sized hunk of rotating rock called Theia, according to one theory (SN: 4/15/17, p. 18). That hit...

    07/21/2017 - 09:00 Planetary Science
  • News

    Humans first settled in Australia as early as 65,000 years ago

    Tools, paints and other artifacts excavated from an ancient rock-shelter in northern Australia are giving new glimpses into early life Down Under. The first humans may have arrived on the continent 65,000 years ago — 5,000 years earlier than previously thought — and they were sophisticated craftspeople, researchers report July 19 in Nature.

    Archaeologists unearthed three distinct layers...

    07/19/2017 - 13:00 Archaeology, Anthropology
  • News

    Brain activity helps build an alpha male

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    Boosting the activity of certain brain cells can help a mouse climb the social ladder.

    Nerve cells in a region called the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex appear to control whether male mice are dominant or submissive to other males, researchers report in the July 14 Science. The finding adds to previous evidence that this brain region is involved in social interactions...

    07/13/2017 - 14:00 Neuroscience
  • Science Ticker

    Whales feast when hatcheries release salmon

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    Humpback whales, those innovative foodies, have discovered their own pop-up restaurants.

    Migrant humpbacks returning to southeastern Alaska in spring are the first of their kind known to make routine visits to fish hatcheries releasing young salmon into the sea, says marine ecologist Ellen Chenoweth.

    The whales are “40 feet long and they’re feeding on fish that...

    07/11/2017 - 19:05 Animals, Ecology, Science & Society
  • News

    Hermaphrodite wildflower has its own battle of the sexes

    PORTLAND, Ore. — Petals of wildflowers called starry campions may be a pretty little battleground for a sexual skirmish between the plant’s male and female parts.

    As is common in flowers, each Silene stellata bloom forms both male and female sex organs. After measuring petal variation between plants and tracking parenthood of seeds, Juannan Zhou suspected a sexual tug-of-war.

    ...

    07/07/2017 - 08:00 Plants, Evolution
  • Science Ticker

    Juno will fly a mere 9,000 km above Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

    Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is ready for its close-up. On July 10, NASA’s Juno spacecraft will fly directly over it, providing the first intimate views of Jupiter’s most famous feature.

    The Great Red Spot is a 16,000-kilometer-wide storm that’s been raging for centuries. Juno will soar just 9,000 kilometers above the Red Spot’s swirling clouds, collecting data with its eight scientific...

    07/07/2017 - 07:00 Planetary Science
  • Editor's Note

    Dive deep to discover unexpected connections

    Readers often praise Science News for its brevity. It’s undoubtedly one of our defining features, and one of our core values. To deliver the latest news from a wide breadth of scientific subfields, our writing must be clear and concise. Our news gets to the point, with all the fascinating detail but none of the flab. Packing content in has long been the tradition at Science News — no surprise...

    07/06/2017 - 12:45 History of Science, Quantum Physics, Evolution
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers intrigued by Mars' far-out birth

    Martian mysteries

    Mars may have formed out where the asteroid belt is now, far from its planetary neighbors, Thomas Sumner reported in “New proposal reimagines Mars’ origin” (SN: 5/27/17, p. 14).

    Readers online were fascinated by Mars’ origin story. “There seemed to be evidence of actual seas on early Mars,” stargene wrote. “How can this be finessed into the idea of Mars living out in...

    07/06/2017 - 12:30 Planetary Science, Genetics, Particle Physics
  • News

    Double-duty DNA plays a role in birth and death

    Babies are little heartbreakers — literally. Genetic variants linked to fertility are also linked to coronary artery disease, a new study finds.

    It’s not uncommon to find genes that affect more than one trait, but this is the first time scientists have seen a genetic connection between reproduction and heart disease, the researchers report online June 22 in PLOS Genetics. “Evolution is...

    07/05/2017 - 12:00 Genetics, Human Evolution
  • Science Visualized

    Snow and rain tug on earthquake faults in California

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    Winter weather brings seismic tremors. A new study reveals how water buildup and runoff throughout the year can increase stress along faults in California, triggering small earthquakes.

    “This kind of observation is extremely important to constrain our models of earthquakes,” says Jean-Philippe Avouac, a geologist at Caltech who was not involved in the study....

    07/03/2017 - 07:00 Earth