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Cassini is bravely going where no spacecraft has gone before — between Saturn and its rings.
The probe, which launched in 1997 and has orbited Saturn since 2004, starts this daring expedition April 22. It will fly through the 2,400-kilometer-wide gap between Saturn and its rings 22 times before plunging into the planet’s atmosphere and burning up on Sept. 15....
50 Years Ago
Drifting theories shake up geology
Continental drift, a theory often considered amusing but rarely important, seems about to become the focus of a revolution in geology. At the least, it has already split the geological community into those who find the evidence for it “formidable” and those who think it is not yet formidable enough to constitute a proof. — Science News, April 29, 1967...
Biologist Leo Smith held an unusual job while an undergraduate student in San Diego. Twice a year, he tagged along on a chartered boat with elderly passengers. The group needed him to identify two particular species of rockfish, the chilipepper rockfish and the California shortspine thornyhead. Once he’d found the red-orange creatures, the passengers would stab themselves in the arms with the...
Got a mouse in the house? Blame yourself. Not your housekeeping, but your species. Humans never intended to live a mouse-friendly life. But as we moved into a settled life, some animals — including a few unassuming mice — settled in, too. In the process, their species prospered — and took over the world.
The rise and fall of the house mouse’s fortunes followed the stability and...
Nuclear physicist Evangeline Downie hadn’t planned to study one of the thorniest puzzles of the proton.
But when opportunity knocked, Downie couldn’t say no. “It’s the proton,” she exclaims. The mysteries that still swirl around this jewel of the subatomic realm were too tantalizing to resist. The plentiful particles make up much of the visible matter in the universe. “We’re made of them...
Hawk moths have a sweet solution to muscle damage.
Manduca sexta moths dine solely on nectar, but the sugary liquid does more than fuel their bodies. The insects convert some of the sugars into antioxidants that protect the moths’ hardworking muscles, researchers report in the Feb. 17 Science.
When animals expend a lot of energy, like hawk moths do as they rapidly beat their wings...
Albert Einstein was a master of physics, but his talent in personal relationships was decidedly underdeveloped. A new 10-episode series, Genius, airing on the National Geographic Channel, focuses on the facets of Einstein’s life where he was anything but a virtuoso.
Genius is a dramatization, not a documentary. The series reveals the human side of the famously brainy...
Computers don’t have eyes, but they could revolutionize the way scientists visualize cells.
Researchers at the Allen Institute for Cell Science in Seattle have devised 3-D representations of cells, compiled by computers learning where thousands of real cells tuck their component parts.
Most drawings of cells in textbooks come from human interpretations gleaned by...
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Blame physics — not kindergarten-level clumsiness — for perpetually untied shoelaces. The combined forces from legs swinging and feet pounding the pavement create a perfect lace-loosening storm, scientists report April 12 in Proceedings of the Royal Society A.
Mechanical engineer Oliver O'Reilly of the University of California, Berkeley was familiar with the...
First of two parts
Sometimes it seems like every year offers an occasion to celebrate some sort of Einstein anniversary.
In 2015, everybody lauded the 100th anniversary of his general theory of relativity. Last year, scientists celebrated the centennial of his prediction of gravitational waves — by reporting the discovery of gravitational waves. And this year marks the centennial...