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  • Feature

    The brain may clean out Alzheimer’s plaques during sleep

    Neuroscientist Barbara Bendlin studies the brain as Alzheimer’s disease develops. When she goes home, she tries to leave her work in the lab. But one recent research project has crossed into her personal life: She now takes sleep much more seriously.

    Bendlin works at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, home to the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention, a study of more than 1,500...

    07/15/2018 - 06:00 Biomedicine, Neuroscience, Mental Health
  • News in Brief

    First global maps of Pluto and Charon show the worlds’ highs and lows

    The first global maps of Pluto and its moon Charon are now available, putting a bookend on NASA’s New Horizons mission.

    “From a completionist’s point of view, they are all the good data we have, stitched together into a coherent, complete mosaic,” says planetary scientist Ross Beyer of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

    The charts focus on the 42 percent of Pluto...

    07/13/2018 - 16:50 Planetary Science
  • Feature

    The ecosystem that controls a galaxy’s future is coming into focus

    There’s more to a galaxy than meets the eye. Galaxies’ bright stars seem to spiral serenely against the dark backdrop of space. But a more careful look reveals a whole lot of mayhem.

    “Galaxies are just like you and me,” Jessica Werk, an astronomer at the University of Washington in Seattle, said in January at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society. “They live their lives in a...

    07/12/2018 - 07:00 Astronomy, Cosmology
  • Science Visualized

    How a particle accelerator helped recover tarnished 19th century images

    With the aid of a particle accelerator, scientists are bringing back ghosts from the past, revealing portraits hidden underneath the tarnished surface of two roughly 150-year-old silver photographic plates.

    Researchers used an accelerator called a synchrotron to produce strong, but nondamaging beams of X-rays to scan the damaged photographs, called daguerreotypes, and map their chemical...

    07/09/2018 - 07:00 Chemistry, Physics
  • Reviews & Previews

    Why humans, and Big Macs, depend on bees

    Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of BeesThor HansonBasic Books, $27

    When you hear the word bee, the image that pops to mind is probably a honeybee. Maybe a bumblebee. But for conservation biologist Thor Hanson, author of the new book Buzz, the world is abuzz with thousands of kinds of bees, each as beautiful and intriguing as the flowers on which they land.

    Speaking from his “...

    07/08/2018 - 08:00 Animals, Agriculture, Ecology
  • News

    NASA’s Parker probe is about to get up close and personal with the sun

    NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is about to embark on one daredevil stunt of a space mission.

    Slated to launch August 4, the probe will be the first spacecraft to swoop through the sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona, a roiling inferno of plasma heated to several million degrees Celsius.

    Parker will whip around the sun two dozen times over the next seven years, skirting within about 6...

    07/05/2018 - 07:09 Astronomy, Technology
  • Reviews & Previews

    The study of human heredity got its start in insane asylums

    Genetics in the MadhouseTheodore M. PorterPrinceton Univ., $35

    England’s King George III descended into mental chaos, or what at the time was called madness, in 1789. Physicians could not say whether he would recover or if a replacement should assume the throne. That political crisis jump-started the study of human heredity.

    Using archival records, science historian Theodore M...

    07/01/2018 - 08:00 Genetics, History of Science, Mental Health, Numbers
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Spying on Whales’ dives into the story of true leviathans

    Spying on WhalesNick PyensonViking, $27

    Just before humans evolved, whales and dolphins were, pound for pound, the brainiest creatures on Earth. Another cetacean superlative: Today’s biggest whales are heftier than the largest dinosaurs that ever lived. The evolutionary trends that produced big, brainy marine animals are just a few of the fascinating tales told in Spying on Whales...

    06/29/2018 - 12:00 Animals, Evolution, Paleontology
  • 50 years ago, a Japanese scientist dreamed up a rocket-propelled train

    Next in speedy trains

    Future trains, in [Hisanojo] Ozawa’s opinion, will all be powered by rockets and run over rollers instead of rails…. His next model will be equipped with three rocket engines and will aim for a speed of 1,180 kilometers an hour, or 0.996 Mach. — Science News, July 6, 1968.

    Update

    A rocket-boosted model train from Ozawa, who designed aircraft for the...

    06/28/2018 - 07:00 Technology, Physics
  • News

    A brain chemical tied to narcolepsy may play a role in opioid addiction

    Using opioids gives some brain cells a call to action.

    Opioid addicts’ brains, examined after death, contain about 50 percent more nerve cells that release a molecule called hypocretin, compared with people who didn’t use the drugs, a new study finds. Giving the opiate morphine to mice also induced similar changes in their brains. But the increase didn’t come from new nerve cells, or...

    06/27/2018 - 14:00 Neuroscience, Health