Category: Science

Trump’s NASA Administrator: ‘No Reason’ to Dismiss U.N. Climate Report

The crew, an American astronaut and Russian cosmonaut, were only minutes into their flight when a red warning light started flashing and alarms began to blare. Within seconds, their small capsule fired its engines and began hurtling away, trying to put as much distance as possible between the crew and the rocket that was supposed to propel them into orbit…

The ‘Special Genius’ of Dogs

When dogs domesticated themselves around 40,000 years ago, they became far more like human infants than their wolf ancestors, according to Brian Hare, Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Duke University. In a video filmed at the 2018 Aspen Ideas Festival, Hare details some of the many types of canine intelligence, including the most important to the success of their species:…

The Butterflies That Hear With Their Wings

When Jayne Yack speaks, she knows that her butterflies can hear her. They’re listening with their wings. Yack, a professor at Carleton University, studies a group of butterflies called nymphalids, which include well-known species like the monarch, morphos, emperors, and admirals. Many members of this group have ears at the base of their wings. If one lifted its top pair…

A New Tool for Diagnosing Mystery Illnesses in Poor Countries

Senjuti Saha was frustrated. As a microbiologist at the largest pediatric hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh, she sees a lot of young kids with meningitis—inflammation of the membranes around the brain and spine. In up to 80 percent of those cases, she and her colleagues can’t work out which particular microbe is behind the condition. They draw samples of spinal fluids.…

The First DNA Test as Political Stunt

Has there ever been such an elaborate rollout for the results of a DNA test? On Monday morning, Elizabeth Warren—Massachusetts senator, likely presidential candidate—unveiled a webpage with five videos featuring interviews of family, friends, students, former colleagues, and the Stanford geneticist Carlos Bustamante. Republicans have for years accused Warren, a Democrat, of faking Native American ancestry to advance her career.…

Are Siblings More Important Than Parents?

We don’t choose our siblings the way we choose our partners and friends. Of course, we don’t choose our parents either, but they usually make that up to us by sustaining us on the way to adulthood. Brothers and sisters are just sort of there. And yet, when it comes to our development, they can be more influential than parents.…

Hubble’s Hardware Woes and the Painful Era of Aging Spacecraft

Perhaps no space mission has revealed as many wonders of the universe as the Hubble Space Telescope has. From its perch about 350 miles above Earth, the space observatory has produced sharp, mesmerizing views of planets, stars, and galaxies. The Hubble Deep Field, one of the most iconic images in astronomy, captured thousands of glittering galaxies in a tiny piece…

What Manatees Do During Hurricane Season

On Wednesday afternoon, Hurricane Michael slammed into the western coast of Florida. It was, as my colleague Robinson Meyer described, “one of the most damaging and powerful storms ever to wallop the continental United States.” Several neighborhoods were devastated, more than a dozen people were killed, and hundreds of thousands were left without power. And in the midst of all…