Vol. 197 No. 9
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cover of May 9, 2020 magazine issue

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More Stories from the May 9, 2020 issue

  1. Math

    To cook a perfect steak, use math

    As a steak cooks in an oven, movement of liquid within the meat causes it to become extra juicy in the center in a way that can be predicted by mathematics.

  2. Chemistry

    Beets bleed red but a chemistry tweak can create a blue hue

    A new blue dye derived from beet juice might prove an alternative to synthetic blue dyes in foods, cosmetics or fabrics.

  3. Archaeology

    This is the oldest known string. It was made by a Neandertal

    A cord fragment found clinging to a Neandertal’s stone tool is evidence that our close evolutionary relatives were string makers, too, scientists say.

  4. Climate

    Climate change made a southwestern U.S. drought one of the worst in 1,200 years

    Tree ring records show that the 2000–2018 drought in southwestern North America is among the most severe to strike the region in over a millennium.

  5. Anthropology

    Lucy’s species heralded the rise of long childhoods in hominids

    Australopithecus afarensis had prolonged brain growth before the Homo genus appeared, but it still resulted in brains with chimplike neural structure.

  6. Animals

    Hitchhiking oxpeckers warn endangered rhinos when people are nearby

    Red-billed oxpeckers do more than just eat parasites from rhinos’ backs. The birds can alert the hunted mammals to potential danger, a study finds.

  7. Space

    Saturn’s auroras may explain the planet’s weirdly hot upper atmosphere

    Data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft could help solve Saturn’s mysterious “energy crisis.”

  8. Astronomy

    ‘Oumuamua might be a shard of a broken planet

    A new origin story for the solar system’s first known interstellar visitor suggests it may have been part of a world that got shredded by its star.

  9. Physics

    A year after the first black hole image, the EHT has been stymied by the coronavirus

    With this year’s observing run canceled due to the coronavirus, the Event Horizon Telescope team is analyzing data from 2017 and 2018.

  10. Space

    A weird stellar explosion may have caused the brightest supernova yet seen

    Astronomers may have spotted the first known example of a rare “pulsational pair-instability” supernova.

  11. Animals

    Cold War nuclear test residue offers a clue to whale sharks’ ages

    One unexpected legacy of the Cold War: Chemical traces of atomic bomb tests are helping scientists figure out whale shark ages.

  12. Neuroscience

    Mice’s facial expressions can reveal a wide range of emotions

    Pleasure, pain, fear and other feelings can be reflected in mice’s faces, sophisticated computational analyses show.

  13. Humans

    Southern Africa may have hosted a hominid transition 2 million years ago

    Braincases excavated from the Drimolen caves suggest Homo erectus and Paranthropus robustus may have coexisted in southern Africa.

  14. Life

    The Great Barrier Reef is suffering its most widespread bleaching ever recorded

    Major bleaching events are recurring with increasing frequency on the Great Barrier Reef, hindering its recovery.

  15. Archaeology

    50 years ago, explorer Thor Heyerdahl’s Atlantic crossing hit a snag

    Explorer Thor Heyerdahl followed an aborted Atlantic voyage with a second trip that indicated ancient Egyptians could have traveled over long distances by sea.