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  • News in Brief

    Only a third of Earth’s longest rivers still run free

    Free-flowing rivers are an endangered species on Earth. Only about a third of the world’s longest rivers still flow freely along their entire lengths, unchained by dams or reservoirs, scientists report in the May 9 Nature.

    The study is the first global map of river “connectivity,” the ability of river water to move freely downstream, across floodplains and into and out of aquifers...

    05/10/2019 - 07:00 Earth, Climate
  • News in Brief

    Ancient South American populations dipped due to an erratic climate

    Ancient South American populations declined sharply as rainfall became increasingly unpredictable starting around 8,600 years ago, researchers say.

    But hunter-gatherer groups from the Andes and the Amazon to the continent’s southern tip bounced back quickly once rain returned to a relatively stable pattern about 6,000 years ago, report archaeologists Philip Riris and Manuel Arroyo-Kalin...

    05/09/2019 - 13:17 Archaeology, Climate
  • News

    1 million species are under threat. Here are 5 ways we speed up extinctions

    Stories about individual species on the brink of extinction may be all too familiar. But a new tally now reveals the breadth of the conservation crisis: One million of the world’s species are now poised to vanish, some as soon as within the next few decades.

    That number, which amounts to 1 in every 8 animal or plant species on Earth, comes from a sweeping new analysis of about 15,000...

    05/08/2019 - 06:00 Conservation, Climate, Pollution, Science & Society
  • Feature

    The search for new geologic sources of lithium could power a clean future

    The future of lithium is electrifying. Cars and trucks powered by lithium batteries rather than fossil fuels are, to many people, the future of transportation. Rechargeable lithium batteries are also crucial for storing energy produced by solar and wind power, clean energy sources that are a beacon of hope for a world worried about the rapidly changing global climate.

    Prospecting for new...

    05/07/2019 - 14:09 Earth, Technology, Sustainability
  • News

    A belly full of wriggling worms makes wood beetles better recyclers

    Having hundreds of roundworms living inside your abdomen may seem like a bad thing. But for horned passalus beetles, hosting wriggly nematode larvae may benefit them and the eastern U.S. forests they live in.

    Beetles that harbor Chondronema passali larvae eat more rotting wood than beetles without the larvae, researchers report May 1 in Biology Letters. That increased decomposition could...

    05/07/2019 - 07:00 Earth, Ecology, Animals
  • Feature

    Can Silicon Valley entrepreneurs make crickets the next chicken?

    Trina Chiasson was raised in a log cabin, learned to spin plates in Chicago’s circus arts community, dreamed up a software company and three years later sold it to a bigger company. Her next challenge: building a business, called Ovipost, that brings better technology to cricket farming.

    “I didn’t know any cricket farmers growing up, I know you’ll be shocked to learn,” she says. Yet she’...

    05/02/2019 - 07:00 Agriculture, Animals, Sustainability
  • News

    Dry sand can bubble and swirl like a fluid

    Under the right conditions, sand can flow. When heavier grains are placed atop lighter grains in a container, the less dense grains can burble upward like the blobs of a lava lamp, a study finds.

    The research is the first to show how the mixing of sand grains can mimic how fluids flow. But even when grainy particles, such as sand or mud, behave like fluids, the underlying forces that...

    04/30/2019 - 14:21 Earth
  • News

    Here’s what causes the aurora-like glow known as STEVE

    We’re one step closer to understanding the mysterious atmospheric light show called STEVE.

    Short for Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement, STEVE is an unusual type of sky glow that appears closer to the equator than auroras (SN: 4/14/18, p. 5). Unlike the shimmery green ribbons that make up the northern lights, STEVE consists of a mauve band of light that stretches east to west,...

    04/30/2019 - 07:00 Physics, Earth
  • News

    Endangered green sea turtles may be making a comeback in the U.S. Pacific

    Beleaguered populations of green sea turtles living in and around Hawaii and American Pacific island territories are increasing in number. 

    From 2002 to 2015, scuba diving researchers circumnavigated 53 islands, atolls and coral reefs throughout the U.S. Pacific, conducting the first comprehensive survey in that region of the turtles’ ocean habitats. Over the 13 years, the divers counted...

    04/26/2019 - 07:00 Animals, Ecosystems, Oceans
  • News

    A global survey finds that the Arctic Ocean is a hot spot for viruses

    Arctic waters turn out to be teeming with some of the world’s smallest entities — viruses.

    Water samples taken during a three-year expedition around the world’s oceans identified around 200,000 virus species, roughly 12 times the number found in a previous smaller survey. And 42 percent of those viruses were found exclusively in the Arctic, researchers report April 25 in Cell.

    The...

    04/25/2019 - 11:00 Microbes, Oceans, Ecology