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  • News

    Scientists spy on the secret inner life of bacteria

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    On the surface, bacteria may appear bland. But there’s more going on inside than meets the eye, new research is revealing.

    For many years, scientists thought that bacteria didn’t have internal structures and were basically “bags of enzymes,” says structural and cell biologist Martin Warren of the University of Kent in England.

    Now, one group of researchers has...

    06/22/2017 - 14:00 Microbiology
  • Feature

    Life might have a shot on planets orbiting dim red stars

    Our corner of the galaxy teems with alien worlds. In the 25 years since the discovery of the first planets beyond our solar system, astronomers have found more than 3,600 worlds orbiting other stars. A select few have become tantalizing targets in the search for life despite orbiting stars that are much smaller, cooler — and in many ways harsher — than the sun.

    Just 39 light-years away,...

    06/14/2017 - 10:00 Exoplanets
  • News

    Quantum tractor beam could tug atoms, molecules

    The wavelike properties of quantum matter could lead to a scaled-down version of Star Trek technology. A new kind of tractor beam could use a beam of particles to reel in atoms or molecules, physicists propose in the May 5 Physical Review Letters.

    Scientists have previously created tractor beams using light or sound waves, which can pull small particles a few millimeters or centimeters (...

    05/19/2017 - 07:00 Quantum Physics
  • Science Stats

    Global access to quality health care has improved in the last two decades

    Health care quality and availability improved globally from 1990 to 2015, but the gap between the haves and the have-nots widened in those 25 years, researchers report online May 18 in the Lancet.

    As an approximate measure of citizens’ access to quality health care, an international team of researchers analyzed mortality rates for 32 diseases and injuries that are typically not fatal...

    05/18/2017 - 18:53 Health
  • It's Alive

    Blennies have a lot of fang for such little fishes

    After a recent flurry of news that fang blennies mix an opioid in their venom, a question lingers: What do they need with fangs anyway? Most eat wimpy stuff that hardly justifies whopper canines.

    Not that fang blennies are meek fishes.

    “When they bite, they bite savagely,” says Bryan Fry of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. “If these little jobbies were 3 meters...

    05/16/2017 - 10:00 Animals, Evolution
  • News

    Naked singularity might evade cosmic censor

    Certain stealthy spacetime curiosities might be less hidden than thought, potentially exposing themselves to observers in some curved universes.

    These oddities, known as singularities, are points in space where the standard laws of physics break down. Found at the centers of black holes, singularities are generally expected to be hidden from view, shielding the universe from their...

    05/15/2017 - 09:00 Physics
  • News

    Peace and quiet is becoming more elusive in U.S. wild areas

    Even in the wilderness, humans are making a ruckus.

    In 63 percent of America’s protected places — including parks, monuments and designated wilderness areas — sounds made by human activity are doubling the volume of background noise. And in 21 percent of protected places, this racket can make things 10 times noisier.  

    Enough clatter from cars, planes and suburban sprawl is seeping...

    05/04/2017 - 14:00 Pollution, Conservation
  • News

    Sea creatures’ sticky ‘mucus houses’ catch ocean carbon really fast

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    Never underestimate the value of a disposable mucus house.

    Filmy, see-through envelopes of mucus, called “houses,” get discarded daily by the largest of the sea creatures that exude them. The old houses, often more than a meter across, sink toward the ocean bottom carrying with them plankton and other biological tidbits snagged in their goo.

    Now, scientists...

    05/04/2017 - 13:28 Animals, Oceans, Climate
  • Soapbox

    Radical idea could restore ice in the Arctic Ocean

    Leave it to a researcher who studies icy moons in the outer solar system to come up with an out-there scheme to restore vanishing sea ice in the Arctic.

    Ice is a good insulator, says Steven Desch, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University in Tempe. That’s why moons such as Jupiter’s Europa and Saturn’s Enceladus, among others, may be able to maintain liquid oceans beneath their...

    05/02/2017 - 10:00 Climate, Earth, Oceans
  • News

    Chemistry controlled on tiniest scale can create hollow nanoparticles

    Blame oxidation for rusted bridges and browned avocados. But this fundamental process can be harnessed for good, too — and now scientists have scored front-row seats that could show them how.

    Researchers watched at near-atomic resolution as iron nanoparticles transformed into iron oxide — not rust in this case, but related compounds. That closeup view could help scientists better control...

    05/01/2017 - 09:00 Chemistry, Materials