A team of researchers managed to repurpose a movement-detecting device that helps NASA’s Curiosity rover navigate and use it to measure variations in the Red Planet’s gravitational field. In the process, the scientists discovered that the rocks beneath the rover are more porous than previously suspected. This offers clues into the mysterious formation Mount Sharp, a strange hill the rover has been exploring in the center of Gale Crater.
& ...read more
It was a New Year's Eve like no other. First of all, the big celebration started a half hour after midnight. Children were waving mini-flags, surrounded by throngs of giddy planetary scientists. And four billion miles away, one billion miles past Pluto, the New Horizons spacecraft was flying past an enigmatic object called 2014 MU69--better known by its nickname, Ultima Thule.
When radio signals from New Horizons finally reached Earth the next morning, they revealed that the mission was a ...read more
Auroras: They're colorful, mesmerizing and, most of all, mysterious. Scientists understand the basic physics behind how charged particles interact with our atmosphere to produce these dancing lights. But the larger mechanics of when, why and how auroras appear still isn't very well understood.
One particular mystery is that the northern and southern lights don't always match up like researchers would expect. For years, scientists assumed that aurora borealis and aurora australis would ...read more
Dark energy, the mysterious and hypothetical force that scientists think is causing the expansion of the universe to accelerate, may actually be growing over time, according to one new study.
About 20 years ago, scientists discovered dark energy by measuring the light coming from exploding stars, known as supernovas. Dark energy is thought to permeate all of space and, by continuing to study the light coming from supernovas, scientists have observed the effects of dark energy a ...read more
“Learn a new language while you sleep!” may sound like the start of a bad 3 a.m. infomercial, but new research has found some evidence for sleep learning. Of course, listening to French on tape while you sleep is unlikely to instantly give you the ability to order a vanilla latte and an omelet in a foreign tongue the next morning. But it may enhance your ability to learn new vocabulary, according to a study published in Current Biology.
Researchers have long known that sle ...read more
There are two kinds of people in this world: those who eat breakfast and those who skip it. Maybe that’s exaggerating things a little, but the debate over whether or not adults should eat The Most Important Meal of the Day, especially for weight loss, can be polarizing — and not just for the average person. Researchers, too, have been arguing this point for years.
Now, a new literature review says there’s a possibility that eating breakfast might not help us shed pounds.
To ...read more
Pandas are picky eaters. The conservation icons live off a nearly exclusive diet of bamboo. Now, researchers have shown that ancient pandas once had a much broader palette and lived in a wider region. The discovery overturns a long-held belief that while pandas descended from meat-eating animals, they have been dining on bamboo for millions of years.
“It has been widely accepted that giant pandas exclusively feed [on] bamboo [since] a long time ago -- 2 millions years,” said Fu ...read more
Public health guidelines, such as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, have long emphasized reducing dietary fat intake, but nutritionists and other health scientists now have more recent evidence that not all fats have adverse effects. Dietary fats differ with regard to their effects on health and risk for chronic diseases, particularly in regard to effects on risk for heart disease.
Indeed, some nutrition experts now believe that certain types of dietary fat may even reduce cardiovascu ...read more
The 1950s were a bizarre period in American history. An economic boom brought joy to a generation home from war, and also harbored a strange level of distrust, of enemies both internal and external, in a nation not quite at war, but not quite at peace either. Technology was advancing in leaps and bounds, and the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union was underway. To America's dismay, the Soviets were winning – at least at first.
But before ...read more
A dinosaur relative about the size of an iguana, which lived at the bottom of the world 250 million years ago, is throwing paleontologists for a loop. Antarctanax shackletoni, named for explorer Ernest Shackleton, hints at unexpected biodiversity on the now-frozen continent of Antarctica.
About 252 million years ago, the greatest mass extinction known walloped life on Earth. An estimated 90 percent of all living things perished. In the wake of this event, known as the end-Permian or Gre ...read more
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