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  • Feature

    Rendezvous with Pluto

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    Tiny, far-flung Pluto is about to have a visitor — at least for a few hours.

    On July 14, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will reach the dwarf planet and try to learn all it can about Pluto and its five known moons. Then the probe will leave Pluto behind, vanishing into the frigid darkness beyond the planets.

    In its wake, New Horizons will introduce Earth to the...

    06/12/2015 - 11:55 Planetary Science, Astronomy
  • Feature

    View to a cell

    Imagine if your best knowledge of human anatomy came from viewing the body through binoculars from a mile away. You might make out the shape of a hand, but knuckles and fingernails would elude you. Experiments could tell you there’s a pumping heart inside, but to see that heart with any clarity you would have to fix it in formaldehyde or liquid nitrogen, blast it with electrons and add dyes to...

    05/28/2013 - 16:22 Cells, Biophysics
  • Feature

    Software Scientist

    Games such as chess have long been mastered by thinking machines. But weightier intellectual feats, such as deducing the laws of nature, have remained the domain of living, breathing brainiacs — until now.

    A new computer program called Eureqa comes up with fundamental mathematical laws, the great equations of textbooks and history, from scratch. Feed Eureqa a mess of raw...

    12/30/2011 - 09:46 Technology
  • Comment

    Preserving digital data for the future of eScience

    Libraries and other archives of physical culture have been struggling for decades to preserve diverse media — from paper to eight-track tape recordings — for future generations. Scientists are falling behind the curve in protecting digital data, threatening the ability to mine new findings from existing data or validate research analyses. Johns Hopkins University cosmologist Alex Szalay and...

    08/18/2008 - 12:53 Astronomy, Computing, Humans & Society, Technology
  • Feature

    Scientists Get a 2nd Life

    To track down neuroscientist Corey Hart, you could stop by his laboratory, located on the second floor of DrexelUniversity’s medical building in Philadelphia. Or, you could visit the lab of Luciftias Neurocam, located in the virtual world of Second Life.

    Luciftias is Hart’s digital alter ego, or avatar. Like his real-life counterpart, Luciftias tracks the...

    05/09/2008 - 19:26 Computing, Humans & Society
  • Feature

    That's One Weird Tooth

    What Martin Nweeia noticed first when he encountered narwhals, he says, was the sound. In May 2000, as spring was just reaching Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, a famed local hunter took Nweeia out on the ice searching the open water for those tusk-bearing, high-Arctic whales. "I was sitting on a bucket out on the ice doing polar bear watch," he says. At that time of year, daylight lasts...

    03/21/2006 - 14:43 Animals
  • Feature

    Science News of the Year 2005

    Science News of Yesteryear

    Anthropology & Archaeology

    Astronomy

    Behavior

    Biomedicine

    Botany & Zoology

    Cell & Molecular Biology

    Chemistry

    ...
    12/20/2005 - 03:53 Humans & Society
  • Feature

    Comeback Bird

    During the last week of April, an e-mail zinging through the bird-watcher community spilled the beans on one of the biggest and best-kept secrets in ornithology. It proclaimed that North America's famed ivory-billed woodpecker was not extinct after all, but Terry Rich of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wasn't excited. He had heard that story too many times before. Since the last widely...

    06/06/2005 - 09:54 Animals
  • Math Trek

    Megaprime Champion

    The catalog of humongous prime numbers has a new entry–the champion prime (220996011 – 1), which has 6,320,430 decimal digits. It's the largest known prime number and the 40th Mersenne prime ever found. A prime is a whole number (other than 1) that is evenly divisible by only itself and 1.

    Written in the form 2p – 1, where the exponent p is a prime number, Mersenne numbers hold a...

    12/05/2003 - 10:31 Numbers
  • Feature

    Digital Cells

    Imagine a future in which a single drop of water holds a veritable army of living robots; in which people download software updates not for their computers, but for their bacteria; and in which specially programmed cells course through a person's arteries, monitoring blood sugar concentrations and keeping an eye out for cholesterol buildups.

    These...

    04/21/2003 - 10:56 Technology