Science/Technology

On August 21, the continental United States will experience its first total solar eclipse in nearly four decades. With the eclipse’s path stretching from Oregon all the way to South Carolina, cities like Kansas City, Missouri, and Nashville, Tennessee, will be swathed in daytime darkness for a few minutes — and at least a partial eclipse will be visible around the country.  

Marijuana could give a cognitive boost to older brains

May 30, 2017
9
<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/medihuana/9906897843/">MarihuanayMedicina</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">CC-BY-SA 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

Researchers have found a drug that reverses the effects of brain aging in mice — marijuana.

In the study, published in Nature Medicine, German and Israeli researchers tested the memory and cognition of 2-month-old “young” mice, 12-month-old “mature” mice and 18-month-old “old” mice after exposing them to low doses of THC (the main psychoactive component in marijuana) over a monthlong period. 

Once populous on the country’s mainland, the New Zealand sea lion was hunted to extinction there centuries ago. Recently, however, the mammal has been making a comeback: Fifteen New Zealand sea lion pups were born on the mainland last year.

Video producer Chelsea Fiske chronicled government efforts to protect the baby animals in a new film for Science Friday’s Macroscope series, “How to Save the World’s Rarest Sea Lion Pups.” She also discovered a pup in the process. 

1
<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/_davidphan/16715426351/">David Phan</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

Stargazers living in upper latitudes occasionally glimpse shimmering splashes of pink, blue and green in the night sky. The phenomenon, known as the aurora, is “a glitter bomb” of charged particles from the sun, says Liz MacDonald, a space plasma physicist at NASA.

The aurora is also notoriously ephemeral and can be difficult to track — which is where citizen science comes in. Recently, a group of aurora chasers in Canada saw something strange in the night sky: a purplish streak occurring further south than most auroras. “And they said, ‘What is this thing?’” MacDonald recalls.

When avians and airplanes collide, we tend to hear the big stories — like when a flock of birds crippled the engines of US Airways Flight 1549 in 2009, forcing a crash-landing in the Hudson River. (All 155 passengers and crew survived.)

But thousands of birds hit planes in the United States each year, to less fanfare. “There are somewhere around 13,000 bird strikes reported to civil aviation and another 4,000 to 5,000 from the military, so it’s quite a few birds every year,” says forensic ornithologist Carla Dove.

Jupiter Surprises In Its Closeup

May 27, 2017

Can You Fidget Away Your Anxiety?

May 27, 2017

Sea Spray’s Tie To The Sky

May 13, 2017

The star-nosed mole may take the prize for the most extreme adaptation. Its eponymous nose, which looks like a fleshy pink starfish sticking out of its face, is the most sensitive organ of any mammal's on Earth.

For privacy wonks and internet companies alike, April was a bellwether month: President Donald Trump signed Senate Joint Resolution 34 into law, rolling back internet privacy rules issued last December by the Federal Communications Commission.

From oral history, a 14,000-year-old archaeological discovery

May 7, 2017

In their oral history, the Heiltsuk people describe how the area around Triquet Island, on the western coast of their territory in British Columbia, remained open land during the ice age.

“People flocked there for survival because everywhere else was being covered by ice, and all the ocean was freezing and all of the food resources were dwindling,” says Heiltsuk Nation member William Housty.

And late last year, archaeologists excavating an ancient Heiltsuk village on Triquet Island uncovered the physical evidence: a few flakes of charcoal from a long-ago hearth.

New research from NASA’s Cassini mission has all eyes on Enceladus, Saturn’s sixth-largest moon. The research, recently published in Science magazine, indicates that plumes of vapor escaping from cracks in the moon’s icy shell are full of molecular hydrogen, the fuel for microbial life.

The House That Snot Built

May 6, 2017

Borne To Be Wild

May 6, 2017

Last year, rescue workers began using a vessel called Emily to pull stranded refugees from rough waters near the Greek island of Lesbos. Part buoy and part life raft, Emily helped more than 240 asylum seekers to safety in its first 10 days of use.

This pressurized, skirt-like machine helps keep astronauts fit

Apr 29, 2017

Many engineers spend their entire careers focused on a single area of research — say, the design of airplane components. Then there's Christine Dailey: Put simply, she's not your average engineer. 

Dailey has explored everything from fluids to electronics and has built an exercise machine for astronauts. She has designed autonomous vehicles and much more (some of which she's not allowed to talk about), all while finishing her PhD at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and working as a mechanical engineer for the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC.

Modern smartphones are full of sensors that can make the devices more intuitive — counting your steps, for example, or detecting when you’ve tilted your screen. But according to a new study published in the International Journal of Information Security, those features could come at a price: your security.

Pages