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  • Science Visualized

    Here are the paths of the next 15 total solar eclipses

    August's total solar eclipse won’t be the last time the moon cloaks the sun’s light. From now to 2040, for example, skywatchers around the globe can witness 15 such events.  

    Their predicted paths aren’t random scribbles. Solar eclipses occur in what’s called a Saros cycle — a period that lasts about 18 years, 11 days and eight hours, and is governed by the moon’s orbit. (Lunar eclipses...

    08/18/2017 - 14:30 Astronomy, Planetary Science
  • News

    What can the eclipse tell us about the corona’s magnetic field?

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    The star of any solar eclipse is, of course, the sun. And total eclipses give the sun’s wispy, tenuous atmosphere the spotlight. This region, called the corona, is normally too dim to observe directly. But with the moon blocking the sun’s bright disk, the corona comes into view.

    And the view is dazzling. The corona’s hot plasma is a radiant, ever-changing tiara, full...

    08/16/2017 - 07:00 Astronomy, Earth, Science & Society, Physics
  • News

    Why is this year’s solar eclipse such a big deal for scientists?

    The sky will go dark. The temperature will drop. Stars will shine in the middle of the day. For the first time in nearly a century, millions of Americans from coast-to-coast will witness a total solar eclipse. Those who have watched the sun suddenly snuff out say it’s an otherworldly feeling. It can be humbling. It can be spiritual. It can change the course of history (SN: 5/13/17, p. 29)....

    08/11/2017 - 07:00 Astronomy, Earth, Physics, Science & Society
  • The Science Life

    What Curiosity has yet to tell us about Mars

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    After five years on Mars, the Curiosity rover is an old pro at doing science on the Red Planet. Since sticking its landing on August 5, 2012, NASA’s Little Robot That Could has learned a lot about its environs.

    Its charge was simple: Look for signs that Gale crater, a huge impact basin with a mountain at its center, might once have been habitable (for microbes, not...

    08/04/2017 - 16:29 Planetary Science, Chemistry, Robotics
  • News

    Spread of misfolded proteins could trigger type 2 diabetes

    Type 2 diabetes and prion disease seem like an odd couple, but they have something in common: clumps of misfolded, damaging proteins.

    Now new research finds that a dose of corrupted pancreas proteins induces normal ones to misfold and clump. This raises the possibility that, like prion disease, type 2 diabetes could be triggered by these deformed proteins spreading between cells or even...

    08/04/2017 - 11:30 Biomedicine, Health
  • News

    Neutrinos seen scattering off an atom’s nucleus for the first time

    Famously sneaky particles have been caught behaving in a new way.

    For the first time, scientists have detected neutrinos scattering off the nucleus of an atom. The process, predicted more than four decades ago, provides a new way to test fundamental physics. It will also help scientists to better characterize the neutrino, a misfit particle that has a tiny mass and interacts so feebly...

    08/03/2017 - 14:10 Particle Physics
  • Science & the Public

    Your solar eclipse experience can help science

    With just weeks to go before the Great American Eclipse, scientists are finalizing years of planning to study the solar phenomenon. But it’s not too late to get involved.

    “This is the first eclipse crossing over a major landmass in the era when lots of people have digital devices,” says astronomer Alex Filippenko of the University of California, Berkeley. The 120-kilometer-wide path of...

    08/02/2017 - 14:30 Science & Society, Astronomy
  • News

    Tardigrades aren’t champion gene swappers after all

    A peek at tardigrades' genetic diaries may dispel a rumor about an amazing feat the tiny creatures were supposed to perform: borrowing large numbers of genes from other organisms.

    Tardigrades — also known as water bears and moss piglets — hardly ever borrow DNA from other creatures, researchers report July 27 in PLOS Biology.

    New analyses of DNA from two species of water bear,...

    07/27/2017 - 14:06 Genetics, Animals, Evolution
  • The Science Life

    Balloons will broadcast the 2017 solar eclipse live from on high

    Only a lucky few have watched a solar eclipse from above the Earth. Angela Des Jardins wants to bring that view to everyone.

    On August 21, Des Jardins, an astrophysicist at Montana State University in Bozeman, will help broadcast the first livestream of a total solar eclipse from the edge of space. She and more than 50 groups across the United States will launch high-altitude balloons to...

    07/26/2017 - 13:30 Astronomy, Networks, Science & Society
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers question hominid family tree

    Hominid hubbub

    In “Hominid roots may go back to Europe” (SN: 6/24/17, p. 9), Bruce Bower reported that the teeth of Graecopithecus, a chimp-sized primate that lived in southeastern Europe 7 million years ago, suggest it was a member of the human evolutionary family.

    “Is it appropriate to use the terms ‘hominid’ and ‘ape’ as if the two are mutually exclusive categories?” asked online...

    07/26/2017 - 13:04 Anthropology, Physics, Animals