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Recent articles from Science News for Students

Science News for Students is an award-winning, free online magazine that reports daily on research and new developments across scientific disciplines for inquiring minds of every age — from middle school on up.


You can fight back against cyberattacks

Glitches and bugs can show up in any new piece of software or software update. Teams of investigators known as white hat hackers are looking to fix those defects and protect computer systems from cybercriminals who exploit those problems. Many hackers target individuals or companies, but others can target an entire country. As 14-year-old Grant Thompson learned, anyone can find new cybersecurity risks. His reward for informing Apple of a big iPhone bug: a company donation to his college fund. — Kathryn Hulick

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methane lake

Strange lake belches flammable gas in the high Arctic

Limnologist Katey Walter Anthony first visited Alaska’s Lake Esieh in September 2017. An area of its surface larger than a football field roiled and fizzed. Huge bubbles popped at the surface. She collected some of the escaping gas, lit a match and the gas caught fire. She calculated that this lake was spewing huge amounts of methane, some 2,000 kilograms (4,400 pounds) each day. Thawing permafrost is behind the growing, Arctic-wide release of this potent greenhouse gas, which is a major source of global warming. The data from Lake Esieh and other Arctic lakes (one shown above) could point to a potentially bigger climate threat from methane than scientists had first suspected. — Douglas Fox

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green forest

Life on Earth is mostly green

If you were writing to an alien pen pal in a distant galaxy, how would you describe life on Earth? You might want to focus on its greenery. A recent census of all living things found plants are the most common, at least by biomass, weighing in at about 450 gigatons of carbon. That’s 83 percent of the total biomass of all life on Earth, which is about 550 gigatons. At 1.2 gigatons, arthropods such as insects, spiders and crustaceans make up about 60 percent of the animal kingdom’s biomass, which is about two gigatons. Mammals make up only 0.167 gigatons and humans weigh in at 0.06 gigatons. Bacteria exceed the combined biomass of birds and mammals. — Mara Johnson-Groh

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