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  • Reviews & Previews

    Physics greats of the 20th century mixed science and public service

    The 20th century will go down in history — it pretty much already has — as the century of the physicist. Physicists’ revolutionizing of the scientific world view with relativity and quantum mechanics might have been enough to warrant that conclusion. Future historians may emphasize even more, though, the role of physicists in war and government. Two such physicists, one born at the century’s...

    02/23/2017 - 06:00 History of Science, Science & Society, Physics
  • Feature

    New, greener catalysts are built for speed

    Platinum, one of the rarest and most expensive metals on Earth, may soon find itself out of a job. Known for its allure in engagement rings, platinum is also treasured for its ability to jump-start chemical reactions. It’s an excellent catalyst, able to turn standoffish molecules into fast friends. But Earth’s supply of the metal is limited, so scientists are trying to coax materials that aren...

    02/21/2017 - 09:00 Chemistry, Materials, Sustainability
  • It's Alive

    Coconut crab pinches like a lion, eats like a dumpster diver

    A big coconut crab snaps its outsized left claw as hard as a lion can bite, new measurements suggest. So what does a land crab the size of a small house cat do with all that pinch power?

    For starters, it protests having its claw-force measured, says Shin-ichiro Oka of the Okinawa Churashima Foundation in Motobu, Japan. “The coconut crab is very shy,” he says. It doesn’t attack people...

    02/21/2017 - 07:00 Animals, Ecology, Biophysics
  • Science & the Public

    Citizen scientists are providing stunning new views of Jupiter

    Stormy, with a good chance of cyclones. That’s the forecast for Jupiter’s south pole — a region never seen before but quickly coming into focus with the help of citizen scientists.

    Music producer Roman Tkachenko’s edited image of Jupiter’s nether regions (featured above) is a perfect example. His enhancements make the swirling cyclones and white oval storms really pop compared with the...

    02/17/2017 - 06:00 Astronomy, Technology
  • 50 Years Ago

    Speech recognition has come a long way in 50 years

    Computers that hear

    Computer engineers have dreamed of a machine that would translate speech into something that a vacuum tube or transistor could understand. Now at last, some promising hardware is being developed.... It is still a long way from the kind of science fiction computer that can understand sentences or long speeches. — Science News, March 4, 1967

    Update 

    That 1967...

    02/16/2017 - 12:30 Computing, Technology
  • Teaser

    Sound waves could take a tsunami down a few notches

    A tsunami’s immense wall of water may not be stoppable. But there may be a way to take the ferocious force of nature down a few notches, using a pair of counterwaves.

    If released at the right moment, a type of sound wave known as an acoustic-gravity wave could subdue a tsunami, applied mathematician Usama Kadri of Cardiff University in Wales reports January 23 in Heliyon. These acoustic-...

    02/15/2017 - 09:00 Physics, Oceans
  • Science Visualized

    Mapping rainforest chemistry from the air reveals 36 types of forest

    To some forest creatures, a tree is a home. To scientists, it’s a beacon. A new way of mapping forests from the air by measuring chemical signatures of the tree canopy is revealing previously unrecognized biodiversity.

    The swath of tropical forest covering the Peruvian Andes Mountains and the Amazon basin is one of the most biodiverse places on Earth. But it’s such a wild and remote...

    02/14/2017 - 11:30 Ecology
  • News

    Physically abused kids learn to fail at social rules for success

    Physical abuse at home doesn’t just leave kids black and blue. It also bruises their ability to learn how to act at school and elsewhere, contributing to abused children’s well-documented behavior problems.

    Derailment of a basic form of social learning has, for the first time, been linked to these children’s misbehavior years down the line, psychologist Jamie Hanson of the University of...

    02/13/2017 - 12:00 Psychology, Mental Health, Human Development
  • News in Brief

    Rapid Ebola test to detect early infection in the works

    WASHINGTON — Diagnosing Ebola earlier is becoming almost as easy as taking a home pregnancy test. 

    Scientists are developing antibodies for a test that can sniff out the deadly virus more quickly and efficiently than current tests, researchers reported February 6 at the American Society for Microbiology Biothreats meeting.

    Detecting Ebola’s genetic material in patients’ blood...

    02/10/2017 - 16:46 Immune Science
  • News

    Ricin poisoning may one day be treatable with new antidote

    WASHINGTON — It has been used by an assassin wielding a poisoned umbrella and sent in a suspicious letter to a president.

    Ricin, the potent toxin and bioterrorism agent, has no antidote and can cause death within days. But a cocktail of antibodies could one day offer victims at least a slim window for treatment.

    A new study presented February 7 at the American Society for...

    02/10/2017 - 10:02 Health, Cells, Biomedicine