Step inside a simulation of the interior of the sun as its magnetic field reverses, a process that creates solar storms that can interrupt power grids and satellite communications on Earth.… Read the rest
After devising a scale for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Dr. Conners later expressed dismay over how loosely the label was being applied.… Read the rest
Broadcaster Sir David Attenborough says species have suffered “significant declines” recently.… Read the rest
How reducing the methane from cows is helping to fight climate change… Read the rest
Elon Musk wants to build a giant battery. What could he use it for? Lifting aircraft carriers, throwing baseballs, and melting ice come to mind…… Read the rest
There are many patterns of collective behavior in biology that are easy to see because they occur along the familiar dimensions of space and time. Think of the murmuration of starlings. Or army ants that span gaps on the forest floor by linking their own bodies into bridges. Loose groups of shoaling fish that snap into tight schools when a predator shows up.
Then there are less obvious patterns, like those that the evolutionary biologist Jessica Flack tries to understand. In 2006, her graduate work at Emory University showed how just a few formidable-looking fighters could stabilize an entire group of macaques by intervening in scuffles … Read the rest
Plants are a lot less passive than their reputation makes them out to be. They foster helpful microbes, have internal systems of communication, and can even share information with their neighboring plants. When they’re being eaten, their alarm signals call in predator species that consume whatever’s eating them.
Now, a new paper suggests that predators aren’t the only danger called in by those alarm signals. Indirectly, the signals induce a starvation-driven cannibalism among the erstwhile herbivores. The result is fewer insect pests and greater plant health.
Fine young cannibals
It turns out that cannibalism is widespread among the insects that otherwise spend their time munching on plants. “It often starts with one caterpillar biting another one in the rear, which then… Read the rest
If more people thought and acted in the same way, societies would probably be happier and safer. But at what cost?… Read the rest
A shoelace knot is a metaphor for the scientific approach to problem-solving.… Read the rest
Exploring the Unbeaten Path
The Soviet Union’s Buran space shuttle program stands as one of the saddest episodes in aerospace history. After NASA began working on its space shuttle program in the early 1970s, the Soviet Union conceived of its own orbiter program, the eerily similar looking Buran shuttle. Ultimately, the vehicle made just one flight, an uncrewed mission in 1988. The Soviet Union’s collapsing economy doomed the program.
The Buran orbiter that made the initial three-hour flight was destroyed in 2002, when the roof of the hangar where it was stored in Kazakhstan collapsed. Like the United States, the Soviet Union didn’t make just one Buran, they made several with the intention of eventually having a fleet of orbital vehicles. When the program was canceled,… Read the rest
Beating cancer might come from animals that evolved defenses against it.Photograph by Patrick Bouquet / Flickr
In recent years, naked mole rats, elephants, and bowhead whales have caught the attention of cancer researchers. At first glance, these three don’t have much in common: naked mole rats are subterranean rodents; elephants roam above ground; and bowhead whales spend their lives in the sea. But they do. For one, they all have relatively long lifespans. Naked mole rats can live just over three decades, much longer than most other creatures their size; some elephants can live up to 70 years; and the average lifespan of a bowhead whale is two centuries.
For another, these three species are also practically immune to cancer. It can be easy to … Read the rest
In 1665, Robert Hooke’s Micrographia brought micrscopic observations of objects smaller than a grain of sand out of the laboratory and into the wider world… Read the rest
A new algorithm developed by researchers at Stanford can spot heart problems better than trained professionals.… Read the rest