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  • Feature

    Skyrmions open a door to next-level data storage

    Like sailors and spelunkers, physicists know the power of a sturdy knot.

    Some physicists have tied their hopes for a new generation of data storage to minuscule knotlike structures called skyrmions, which can form in magnetic materials. Incredibly tiny and tough to undo, magnetic skyrmions could help feed humankind’s hunger for ever-smaller electronics.

    On traditional hard drives,...

    02/07/2018 - 15:03 Materials, Physics
  • Feature

    When it’s playtime, many kids prefer reality over fantasy

    Young children travel to fantasy worlds every day, packing just imaginations and a toy or two.

    Some preschoolers scurry across ocean floors carrying toy versions of cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants. Other kids trek to distant universes with miniature replicas of Star Wars robots R2-D2 and C-3PO. Throngs of youngsters fly on broomsticks and cast magic spells with Harry Potter and...

    02/06/2018 - 11:45 Psychology, Anthropology, Archaeology
  • News

    New laser emits a more stable, energy-efficient light beam

    A new type of laser is modeled after an exotic class of materials called topological insulators. And it’s proving more reliable and energy-efficient than its conventional counterparts, paving the way for possible use in quantum communication and next-generation electronics.

    The device, described online February 1 in Science, is composed of a grid of semiconductor rings that convert...

    02/01/2018 - 14:35 Technology, Physics, Materials
  • The Science Life

    Here’s why so many saiga antelope mysteriously died in 2015

    Spring calving season for the saiga antelope of central Kazakhstan is a delight for the researchers who keep tabs on the critically endangered animals. During the day, thousands of newborn saigas lie quiet, hidden within a sea of waving grass. Mothers return twice daily to feed them. “If you come at dawn and dusk, it’s magical,” says E.J. Milner-Gulland, a conservation biologist at the...

    01/29/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Conservation, Microbes
  • Feature

    Your phone is like a spy in your pocket

    Consider everything your smartphone has done for you today. Counted your steps? Deposited a check? Transcribed notes? Navigated you somewhere new?

    Smartphones make for such versatile pocket assistants because they’re equipped with a suite of sensors, including some we may never think — or even know — about, sensing, for example, light, humidity, pressure and temperature.

    Because...

    01/23/2018 - 12:00 Computing, Technology
  • News in Brief

    Corals are severely bleaching five times as often as in 1980

    Corals are in hot water.

    Severe bleaching events are hitting coral reefs five times as often as in 1980, researchers report in the Jan. 5 Science.

    Scientists surveyed 100 coral reef locations in tropical zones around the world, tracking each spot’s fate from 1980 to 2016. At first, only a few of the locations had experienced bleaching. But by 2016, all had been hit by at least one...

    01/04/2018 - 14:00 Oceans, Climate, Animals
  • News

    Most blue whales are ‘righties,’ except for this one move

    View the video

    Blue whales, it turns out, are a tad ambidextrous.

    When hunting in deep water, the whales tend to be “right-handed,” lunging at krill while twisting 180 degrees or less onto their right side. But when gobbling up the tiny crustaceans near the surface, the whales tend to be lefties, launching themselves upward while performing a 360-degree barrel roll to the left,...

    11/28/2017 - 14:00 Animals, Oceans, Ecology
  • Mystery Solved

    Here’s what really happened to Hanny’s Voorwerp

    The weird glowing blob of gas known as Hanny’s Voorwerp was a 10-year-old mystery. Now, Lia Sartori of ETH Zurich and colleagues have come to a two-pronged solution.

    Hanny van Arkel, then a teacher in the Netherlands, discovered the strange bluish-green voorwerp, Dutch for “object,” in 2008 as she was categorizing pictures of galaxies as part of the Galaxy Zoo citizen science project....

    11/27/2017 - 15:30 Astronomy
  • News

    The dietary habits of the emerald ash borer beetle are complicated

    DENVER — An invasive beetle has unexpected — and potentially troublesome — tastes in trees. Now two new studies are clarifying the insects’ dining habits, researchers reported at the annual Entomological Society of America meeting.

    Metallic-green Asian beetles called emerald ash borers (Agrilus planipennis) have devastated wide swaths of forest in North America. For years, researchers...

    11/21/2017 - 11:00 Plants, Animals
  • Science Visualized

    Fluorescence could help diagnose sick corals

    Sickness makes some corals lose their glow.

    Disease reduces a coral’s overall fluorescence even before any sign of the infection is visible to the naked eye, a new study finds. An imaging technique that illuminates the change could help with efforts to better monitor coral health, researchers report November 6 in Scientific Reports.

    Many corals naturally produce fluorescent...

    11/17/2017 - 07:00 Animals, Technology, Conservation