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  • News in Brief

    A filter that turns saltwater into freshwater just got an upgrade

    Smoothing out the rough patches of a material widely used to filter saltwater could make producing freshwater more affordable, researchers report in the Aug. 17 Science.

    Desalination plants around the world typically strain salt out of seawater by pumping it through films made of polyamide — a synthetic polymer riddled with tiny pores that allow water molecules to squeeze through, but...

    08/16/2018 - 14:00 Materials, Chemistry, Sustainability
  • In 1968, scientists tried taming hurricanes

    Stormfury: Calming the Eyewall

    Since man cannot muster anything approaching the energy of a hurricane, and so has no hope of overcoming the storm by force, Stormfury attempts to use the giant’s own energy against it…. Last week, Project Stormfury began its 1968 season. — Science News, August 17, 1968.

    Update  

    The goal of the U.S. government’s Project Stormfury, which began in...

    08/16/2018 - 12:00 Earth, Climate
  • Feature

    More than 2 billion people lack safe drinking water. That number will only grow.

    Freshwater is crucial for drinking, washing, growing food, producing energy and just about every other aspect of modern life. Yet more than 2 billion of Earth’s 7.6 billion inhabitants lack clean drinking water at home, available on demand.

    A major United Nations report, released in June, shows that the world is not on track to meet a U.N. goal: to bring safe water and sanitation to...

    08/16/2018 - 07:00 Conservation, Climate, Earth
  • News

    Viruses may help phytoplankton make clouds — by tearing the algae apart

    When tiny sea algae get sick, they may sneeze the seeds of clouds.

    Phytoplankton (Emiliania huxleyi) infected with a virus shed the small calcium carbonate plates that make up their shells much more quickly than healthy phytoplankton. Kicked up by thrashing waves into sea spray, those calcium bits may ultimately become part of the complex dance of cloud formation, researchers report...

    08/15/2018 - 11:12 Oceans, Climate
  • Feature

    As waters rise, coastal megacities like Mumbai face catastrophe

    Each year when the monsoon rain sheets down and the tides swell over coastal Mumbai, Saif shutters his soda shop on Juhu Beach and takes shelter up in the rafters. Still, the water invades through the roof and over the concrete floors, sometimes reaching as high as the freezers full of ice cream.

    For 36-year-old Saif, the coastal megacity’s chronic flooding is stressful. “What would...

    08/15/2018 - 09:30 Climate, Oceans, Sustainability
  • Feature

    Why sea level rise varies from place to place

    In the 20th century, ocean levels rose by a global average of about 14 centimeters, mainly due to melting ice and warming waters. Some coastal areas saw more sea level rise than others. Here’s why:  

    Expanding seawater

    As water heats up, its molecules take up more space, contributing to global sea level rise. Local weather systems can influence that effect. In 2017 scientists reported in...

    08/15/2018 - 09:30 Earth, Oceans, Climate
  • Film

    What ‘The Meg’ gets wrong — and right — about megalodon sharks

    OK, so what if a giant prehistoric shark, thought to be extinct for about 2.5 million years, is actually still lurking in the depths of the ocean? That’s the premise of the new flick The Meg, which opens August 10 and pits massive Carcharocles megalodon against a grizzled and fearless deep-sea rescue diver, played by Jason Statham, and a handful of resourceful scientists.

    The...

    08/10/2018 - 12:41 Paleontology, Animals, Oceans
  • News

    A ghost gene leaves ocean mammals vulnerable to some pesticides

    A gene that helps mammals break down certain toxic chemicals appears to be faulty in marine mammals — potentially leaving manatees, dolphins and other warm-blooded water dwellers more sensitive to dangerous pesticides.

    The gene, PON1, carries instructions for making a protein that interacts with fatty acids ingested with food. But that protein has taken on another role in recent decades...

    08/09/2018 - 14:00 Animals, Molecular Evolution, Toxicology
  • Editor's Note

    The trouble with water, be it too much or too little

    A year ago, while news reports focused on the inundation of Houston by Hurricane Harvey, much of the Indian city of Mumbai was also underwater. Both coastal cities, more than 14,000 kilometers apart, had been swamped by extreme rainfall. Deputy news editor Katy Daigle, who had reported from India for seven years for the Associated Press before joining Science News, knew that flooding...
    08/09/2018 - 07:15 Science & Society, Climate, Earth
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers question dark fusion, Antarctic ice melting and more

    Melt away

    In the last five years, Antarctica has lost ice nearly three times faster on average than it did over the previous 20 years — largely due to climate change, Laurel Hamers reported in “Antarctica has lost about 3 trillion metric tons of ice since 1992” (SN: 7/7/18, p. 6).

    “Isn’t there a volcano or multiple volcanoes recently found under Antarctica that might also be...

    08/09/2018 - 07:00 Climate, Particle Physics, Microbiology