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  • News in Brief

    New imaging technique catches DNA ‘blinking’ on

    BOSTON — A new imaging technique takes advantage of DNA’s natural ability to “blink” in response to stimulating light.  The new approach will allow unprecedented views of genetic material and other cellular players. It’s the first method to resolve features smaller than 10 nanometers, biomedical engineer Vadim Backman said February 17 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the...

    02/19/2017 - 10:39 Cells, Chemistry, Biophysics
  • News

    Helium’s inertness defied by high-pressure compound

    Helium — the recluse of the periodic table — is reluctant to react with other elements. But squeeze the element hard enough, and it will form a chemical compound with sodium, scientists report.

    Helium, a noble gas, is one of the periodic table’s least reactive elements. Originally, the noble gases were believed incapable of forming any chemical compounds at all. But after scientists...

    02/17/2017 - 09:00 Chemistry
  • 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
  • News

    Supernova spotted shortly after explosion

    Astronomers have caught a star exploding just hours after light from the eruption first reached Earth. Measurements of the blast’s light suggest that the star rapidly belched gas in the run-up to its demise. That would be surprising — most scientists think the first outward sign of a supernova is the explosion itself.

    “Several years ago, to catch a supernova early would mean to detect it...

    02/13/2017 - 11:00 Astronomy, Physics
  • News

    Fleeting dead zones can muck with seafloor life for decades

    Short bouts of suffocating conditions can desolate swaths of seafloor for decades, new research suggests. That devastation could spread in the future, as rising temperatures and agricultural runoff enlarge oxygen-poor dead zones in the world’s oceans.

    Monitoring sections of the Black Sea, researchers discovered that even days-long periods of low oxygen drove out animals and altered...

    02/10/2017 - 15:06 Oceans, Ecosystems, Chemistry
  • 50 Years Ago

    Germanium computer chips gain ground on silicon — again

    First germanium integrated circuits

    Integrated circuits made of germanium instead of silicon have been reported … by researchers at International Business Machines Corp. Even though the experimental devices are about three times as large as the smallest silicon circuits, they reportedly offer faster overall switching speed. Germanium … has inherently greater mobility than silicon, which...

    02/09/2017 - 11:00 Materials, Computing
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers respond to antibiotics, carbon bonds and more

    Power struggle

    Ninety percent of people who believe that they are allergic to penicillin are not, Emily DeMarco reported in “Most penicillin allergies are off base” (SN: 12/24/16 & 1/7/17, p. 5). A recent study found that testing for penicillin allergies reduced by 34 percent the use of vancomycin, described in the story as “a powerful, last-resort antibiotic.”

    Reader Robin Colgrove...

    02/08/2017 - 12:42 Health, Chemistry
  • News in Brief

    Smashing gold ions creates most swirly fluid ever

    High-energy ion collisions have produced the swirliest fluid ever discovered, in a state of matter that mimics the early universe.

    To create the überwhirly liquid, scientists slammed gold ions together at velocities approaching the speed of light at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y. Such collisions, performed in Brookhaven’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, cook up an...

    02/08/2017 - 12:00 Physics
  • Feature

    When a nearby star goes supernova, scientists will be ready

    Almost every night that the constellation Orion is visible, physicist Mark Vagins steps outside to peer at a reddish star at the right shoulder of the mythical figure. “You can see the color of Betelgeuse with the naked eye. It’s very striking, this red, red star,” he says. “It may not be in my lifetime, but one of these days, that star is going to explode.”

    With a radius about 900 times...

    02/08/2017 - 08:00 Astronomy, Physics
  • News

    Oxygen flooded Earth’s atmosphere earlier than thought

    The breath of oxygen that enabled the emergence of complex life kicked off around 100 million years earlier than previously thought, new dating suggests.

    Previous studies pegged the first appearance of relatively abundant oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere, known as the Great Oxidation Event, or GOE, at a little over 2.3 billion years ago. New dating of ancient volcanic outpourings, however,...

    02/06/2017 - 15:45 Earth, Evolution, Chemistry