A few weeks ago, researchers announced that a 5,300-year-old mummy — the Iceman dubbed Ötzi — contained a strain of a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori.

Just how big is the natural gas leak in California?

Feb 1, 2016
Dean Musgrove/Reuters

It’s been more than two months since inspectors uncovered a colossal natural gas leak in California’s Aliso Canyon, and it will take at least another month, possibly two, to plug it up, according to Southern California Gas Company’s latest estimates.

“On a scale of of actual emissions, of the size of the leak, this is dwarfing anything that's happened like that before in this area or really almost in any other area in this country,” says Stanford University environmental scientist Rob Jackson, “This is very unique and very unusual.”

How important is breast milk and delivery method to a newborn’s health?

Jan 31, 2016

A baby in the womb is protected from most microorganisms. But when that baby enters the outside world, it’s greeted by a welcoming committee of bacteria. Now researchers are trying to sort out what effect, factors like an infant’s delivery method and early diet have on its community of microorganisms.

What space explorers might live in once they get to Mars

Jan 31, 2016

NASA just got an extra $1.3 billion added to its budget for 2016. Part of this budget is set to be used to develop a deep space habitation module. The deep space dwelling would be a ship that a crew could live and work out of — perhaps even on a journey to Mars.

The deadline for the prototype is 2018, giving NASA just two years to develop the technology. 

Bruce Lieberman, a freelance science writer based in San Diego, California, says the habitation module will likely be something inflatable, made from a certain type of fabric. 

Can we recycle light? And can it help us fight global warming?

Jan 31, 2016

Once, there was the ordinary incandescent light bulb. It shone brightly, but wasted much of the energy put into it as heat. Then came the compact fluorescent. And as costs have dropped, consumers have increasingly been switching to light-emitting diode (LED) technology for many lighting applications, in an ongoing search for a more efficient bulb.

The old fashioned incandescent light bulb is more wasteful and inefficient than you may have realized. 

Why scientists think they've found a new planet in our solar system

Jan 29, 2016

It used to be that there were nine planets in our solar system. Although some people claimed that somewhere, out there, was a mysterious tenth planet called “Planet X.” In 2006, the IAU reclassified Pluto, in a hotly contested move that left the solar system with only eight official planets.

But recently, researchers published an argument that there is in fact another large planet in our solar system that we haven’t yet seen.

'Overeating doesn't make you fat. The process of getting fat makes you overeat.'

Jan 27, 2016

Dr. David Ludwig, a practicing endocrinologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and a professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Health in Boston, says our conventional wisdom about losing weight may be completely incorrect. 

“Overeating doesn't make you fat. The process of getting fat makes you overeat,” Ludwig says. 

The health expert has just written a book called “Always Hungry” in which he lays out a series of new guidelines on dieting, healthy eating and weight maintenance. 

What can we learn from obsolete medical equipment — or is it pure quackery?

Jan 26, 2016

For more than 30 years, Steve Erenberg has collected early scientific and medical instruments. Victorian medical masks, surreal anatomical models, and futuristic test prostheses pack the display cases of his store/museum in Peekskill, New York.

There are giant eyeballs, a life-size paper mache model of a horse and disembodied faces. 

“I mean, there’s nothing sinister in this collection,” Erenberg says. “People look and they say, ‘Oh, what is that? Is that S&M?’ Or, ‘Is that a torture device?’ No. They’re medical devices or they’re life-saving devices.”

Somewhere Out There, Planet Nine

Jan 25, 2016

Digging Deep Into the Crust of the Earth

Jan 25, 2016

Somewhere Out There, Planet Nine

Jan 23, 2016

Digging Deep Into the Crust of the Earth

Jan 23, 2016

Can the ‘Godzilla’ El Niño’ solve California’s drought problem?

Jan 22, 2016

The Los Angeles River has once again come to life, supercharged with rainwater. Freeways have flooded. And California’s Sierra Nevada mountains — the so-called “snowy mountains” — are living up to their name.

This is all thanks to the huge ocean-atmosphere event Jet Propulsion Laboratory climatologist Bill Patzert is calling a “Godzilla El Niño.”

Too cold to garden? Not true.

Jan 19, 2016

Most people tend to think to think of gardening as a summer activity. Horticulturist Gerard Lordahl, however, says winter is the perfect time to pay attention to your garden. 

“In the wintertime, right now I mean, people are protecting their plants,” Lordahl says. “Soil mulching is really important, and lots of our community gardeners are composting, and these are all things that can be done now. Protecting your plants through the winter, giving as much water to them as possible on those mild days, and then mulching.” 

The Grifter’s Real Game? Psychology

Jan 16, 2016

A Microbiome Is Born

Jan 16, 2016

Searching for a 14th Century manuscript for a school report? How about an old baseball photo for your stash of sports memorabilia? You might try the New York Public Library’s Digital Collections.

Tending to Your Winter Garden

Jan 13, 2016