Researchers at the University of Washington’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory have devised a new habitability index for judging how suitable alien planets might be for life. The point of the exercise is to help scientists prioritize future targets for close-ups from NASA’s yet-to-be-launched James Webb Space Telescope… »
Last month in South Africa, scientists announced the discovery of a new group of early humans called Homo naledi. Now an analysis shows that this hominin had hands capable of both tree climbing and tool use, plus feet that were adapted for walking upright.
The accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986 had a devastating impact on the local population and forced 116,000 people to permanently leave their homes. But now researchers have discovered that, while the people may not have returned, the contaminated area of Belarus is teeming with wild animals,… »
Marine biologists have long thought that blue whales indiscriminately scour the oceans as they feed on krill. A new study shows there’s a lot more to the grazing habits of these massive mammals than just blindly swimming through the water.
The first Nobel Prize of 2015 has been awarded jointly to three scientists for their groundbreaking work in developing therapies that fight infections caused by malaria and roundworm parasites. »
Teeth grinding is a problem that affects nearly one in ten individuals, yet many of us don’t even realize we’re doing it. And that’s a problem given just how harmful it can be to our health. Here’s how to find out if you grind your teeth when you sleep—and why it’s something you shouldn’t ignore. »
Understanding how the brain works is important, but going hands-on to test drugs or other treatments can be difficult. Which is why a team from Brown University has created these miniature ball-shaped brains for use in the lab.
An international team of scientists has scanned the genomes of 2,504 people from around the world to create the world’s largest catalog of human genetic variation (HGV). The extensive database will help them understand why some people are susceptible to certain diseases. »
Last year, scientists in China used a gene-editing technique to produce pint-sized pigs for medical research. Now they want to sell them as pets. Critics say the precedent could lead to bizarre versions of cats and dogs, while at the same time preventing biologists from focusing on more important research. »
Experienced Scrabble players know there’s more to the game than an expansive vocabulary. An effective player should also be able to quickly find words in a jumble of letters. Developing this skill, reports a team of Canadian researchers, will not only improve your game, it will change the way you use your brain. »
3D printing is changing the way we build things—but what if the end-product can’t support its own weight until it’s finished? Scientists have developed a way to overcome that problem, by surrounding the whole thing with gel.
Working retail, waiting tables, standing in line at the amusement park or just shopping with mom, anyone who’s ever been stuck on their feet for a long time more or less standing still knows that it’s much more tiring than walking the equivalent amount of time. But why? »
It may be possible to grow better, healthier crops with just a syringe and some careful observation. That’s all you need to breed better soil microbes, which can have a big effect on how well plants grow, according to new research. »
The need to find fuel to generate energy is a profound drive within the biology of all living organisms: we all need food to survive. So it’s not surprising that our bodies have such a complex system to control food intake, driven by hormones. »
The Ig Nobel awards ceremony is a marvelous spectacle encrusted with tradition. But if you really want to know how the winners did their work and why, you need to go to the Ig informal lectures, held at MIT the Saturday after the awards. »
If you need to understand the depths of the wilds, there’s nobody better to turn to than someone that lives and breathes the environment. This beautiful video tells the story of an African hunter who decided to stop killing animals — and help scientists find them instead.