A Massive Star Completely Destroyed by a Supernova is Puzzling Scientists

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Supernova 2016iet is an example of one of the most extreme types of stellar explosions, though it has some odd features. (Credit: Gemini Observatory/NSF/AURA/ illustration by Joy Pollard) In November of 2016, the sharp-eyed Gaia spacecraft spied a supernova that exploded some billion light-years from Earth. Astronomers followed up with more telescopes, and quickly realized that this supernova – dubbed SN2016iet – was an odd one in many ways. For one, the star that caused the s ...read more

Microplastics Are Falling Along With Snow in the Arctic

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Frigid terrain on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, where researchers recently documented microplastic pollution in falling snow. (Credit: Sejsejlija/Shutterstock) When it snows in the Arctic, there's another kind of flake drifting down alongside the ice crystals. Tiny bits of degraded plastic, commonly called microplastics, have been found swirling among the snow in otherwise pristine Arctic environments. Microplastic pollution has previously been found everywhere from city streets ...read more

Why Do We Still Believe in ‘Lunacy’ During a Full Moon?

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The full moon has been associated with aberrant behavior for centuries. (Credit: Aron Visuals/Unsplash) It’s sometimes called the "Transylvania effect.” In the dark sky, the clouds shift, revealing the full moon’s eerie silver gleam, and the people on Earth below go mad. It’s a story that gets repeated by doctors, teachers and police officers. The science, though, says something different. Blaming the full moon for strange behavior is a time-honored tradition. In th ...read more

Last month was Earth’s warmest July on record — and by most measures the hottest month, period.

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Most of our planet baked in July — earning the title for hottest month on record, according to two analyses, and in a tie in a third. (Source: NASA GISTEMP) Two analyses out today show that in July, Earth endured its hottest month on record. A third analysis shows last month in a tie with August 2016 for the dubious title of Earth's hottest month in records dating back to the 1880s. Also out today: An update from the National Snow and Ice Data Center shows that Arctic sea ice is c ...read more

Unusual Parasites Plagued Bronze Age Fen Folk And Their Dogs

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Parasites aplenty riddled humans and their dogs at a swampy site in Bronze Age England. From left: Microscopic eggs of a fish tapeworm, giant kidney worm and Echinostoma worm found in ancient feces from the Must Farm site. (Black scale bar represents 20 micrometers.) (Credit: M. Ledger, Department of Archaeology, Cambridge University) Around 3,000 years ago, people were going about their business in a marshy corner of eastern England known as The Fens. These Fenland folk had just built ...read more

These Robotic Shorts Make Everyday Strolls Feel Like a Moving Airport Walkway

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(Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University) If you have two functioning legs and a reliable nervous system, walking and running are generally thoughtless tasks. But if you’re a soldier hauling massive amounts of gear on your back for an extended period of time, putting one foot in front of the other can get exhausting. That’s where the idea for a soft, futuristic "exosuit" came about in 2011 – when DARPA funded a project, called Warrior Web. The U.S. Army partnered wit ...read more

Jupiter May Have Been Hit by a Massive Proto-Planet Long Ago

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A massive planet slamming into Jupiter in its infancy could create the fuzzy core that astronomers observe in the gas giant today. (Credit: K. Suda & Y. Akimoto/Mabuchi Design Office/Astrobiology Center, Japan) In 2016, NASA’s Juno spacecraft arrived at Jupiter with the goal of peering through Jupiter’s dense clouds to reveal the giant planet’s inner secrets. Along with the stunning pictures Juno has sent back, it’s also used its instruments to gaze deep into Jupit ...read more

Scientists Just Solved a Mystery of How Gallstones Form

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A large gallstone. (Credit: eleonimages/Shutterstock) Up to 25 million Americans suffer from gallstones. The unwanted pebbles form in the gallbladder and can grow to be as large as a golf ball. They can block bile ducts and cause severe abdominal pain, infection and even death. For decades, doctors have known they appear when excess cholesterol and calcium salts accumulate in the bile — a yellowish-brown liquid that helps the small intestine break down lipids. What holds the particl ...read more

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