Vol. 199 No. 3
cover of the February 13, 2021 issue

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Science Visualized

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More Stories from the February 13, 2021 issue

  1. illustration of drones above a city
    Quantum Physics

    Drones could help create a quantum internet

    Flying drones sent entangled particles of light to two locations a kilometer apart.

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  2. an illustration of a five-quark particle

    50 years ago, scientists were on a quest for quarks

    In the 1970s, physicists confirmed particles called quarks existed. Fifty years later, many kinds of quarks in many combinations have been discovered.

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  3. illustration of quasar J0313-1806
    Space

    The most ancient supermassive black hole is bafflingly big

    The farthest known quasar challenges ideas about how the first supermassive black holes in the universe formed.

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  4. sea ice
    Earth

    Earth’s oceans are storing record-breaking amounts of heat

    2020 was just the latest in a series of record-breaking years for ocean heat.

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  5. battery illustration
    Chemistry

    Zinc-air batteries are typically single-use. A new design could change that

    Swapping out the electrolyte in zinc-air batteries helps these next-gen power sources last longer.

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  6. cold quasar illustration
    Astronomy

    Astronomers spotted a rare galaxy shutting down star formation

    A distant galaxy harbors an active black hole and active star formation at the same time – an unusual coincidence.

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  7. sand goanna monitor lizard
    Life

    Monitor lizards’ huge burrow systems can shelter hundreds of small animals

    Two species of Australian monitor lizards dig nests four meters deep. Now scientists reveal that the burrows are home to far more than their creators.

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  8. a flare from a magnetar, illustrated
    Space

    The first magnetar flare detected from another galaxy was tracked to its home

    An outburst from the super magnetic remains of a star suggests similar eruptions are behind some of the most powerful explosions in the universe.

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  9. Brown tree snake
    Animals

    Brown tree snakes use their tails as lassos to climb wide trees

    A never-before-seen climbing technique could inspire the creation of new serpentine robots to navigate difficult terrains.

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  10. blue jet illustration
    Earth

    Space station detectors found the source of weird ‘blue jet’ lightning

    The origins of an enigmatic type of lightning in the upper atmosphere has been traced to a 10-microsecond flash of bright blue light.

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  11. mice cuddling
    Neuroscience

    Mice may ‘catch’ each other’s pain — and pain relief

    Healthy mice mirror a companion’s pain or morphine-induced relief. Disrupting certain connections in the brain turns off such empathetic behaviors.

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  12. solar thermal power plant in Morocco
    Climate

    How much will Africa capitalize on cheap renewable energy as its power grid grows?

    An analysis of the successes and failures of past electrical power projects across Africa suggests the continent isn’t likely to go green before 2030.

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  13. Dermasterias imbricata
    Animals

    Some bacteria are suffocating sea stars, turning the animals to goo

    For years, researchers thought an infectious pathogen was behind sea star wasting disease. Instead, bacteria deplete the starfishes’ oxygen.

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