Vol. 200 No. 11
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Science Visualized



More Stories from the December 18, 2021 issue

  1. Climate

    A new map shows where carbon needs to stay in nature to avoid climate disaster

    Scientists have mapped the location of key natural carbon stores. Keeping these areas intact is crucial to fighting climate change.

  2. Astronomy

    Astronomers have found the Milky Way’s first known ‘feather’

    Named for the glacier that feeds India’s longest river, the Gangotri wave spans up to 13,000 light-years and bridges two of our galaxy’s spiral arms.

  3. Chemistry

    This eco-friendly glitter gets its color from plants, not plastic

    Using cellulose extracted from wood pulp, researchers have created a greener alternative to traditional glitter.

  4. Space

    An ancient exploding comet may explain why glass litters part of Chile

    A 75-kilometer-long corridor of chunks of glass in the Atacama Desert probably formed when a comet exploded 12,000 years ago, a study finds.

  5. Science & Society

    How missing data makes it harder to measure racial bias in policing

    Police officers rarely record nonevents, such as drawing a gun without firing. Failing to account for that missing information can obscure racial bias.

  6. Astronomy

    How massive stars in binary systems turn into carbon factories

    A massive star with an orbiting partner star ejects on average twice as much carbon, an element crucial for life, into space compared with a solo star.

  7. Space

    A space rock called Kamoʻoalewa may be a piece of the moon

    New observations reveal the possible origins of a mysterious object called Kamoʻoalewa. It could be the wreckage from an ancient impact on the moon.

  8. Space

    A stunning simulation re-creates how M87’s black hole launches plasma jets

    Two jets, thousands of light-years long, are re-created in a computer simulation, which suggests that M87’s black hole must be spinning rapidly.

  9. Anthropology

    Ancient giant orangutans evolved smaller bodies surprisingly slowly

    Fossil teeth from Chinese caves indicate that a single, ancient orangutan species gradually trimmed down over nearly 2 million years.

  10. Earth

    Earth’s lower atmosphere is rising due to climate change

    In the Northern Hemisphere, the upper boundary of the troposphere, the slice of sky closest to the ground, rose 50 to 60 meters a decade from 1980 to 2020.

  11. Health & Medicine

    Why it matters that health agencies finally said the coronavirus is airborne

    Recognizing that the coronavirus spreads through the air reinforced the importance of wearing masks and altered public health recommendations.

  12. Science & Society

    6 surprising records science set in 2021

    Ancient mammoth DNA and a new source of gravitational waves set new records this year.

  13. Anthropology

    2021 research reinforced that mating across groups drove human evolution

    Fossils and DNA point to mixing and mingling among Homo groups across vast areas.

  14. Animals

    Here are 7 incredible things we learned this year that animals can do

    From wielding weapons to walking on the underside of water, these are the creature capabilities that most impressed us in 2021.

  15. Science & Society

    How some of 2021’s major science stories evolved over time

    Tulsa massacre analysis and a genetically modified mosquito release are two important updates to 2021 stories.