Press Release Category: Science

Astronomers call for renaming the Magellanic Clouds

Explorer Ferdinand Magellan’s name is not fitting, a group of scientists argues The Large Magellanic Cloud (center) and Small Magellanic Cloud (right) can be seen with the naked eye in the Southern Hemisphere, as shown in this photo from Paranal Observatory in Chile. Y. Beletsky/LCO, ESO Names have significance, especially when they’re written in the

Here’s what lucid dreamers might tell us about our sleeping minds

When Christopher Mazurek realizes he’s dreaming, it’s always the small stuff that tips him off. The first time it happened, Mazurek was a freshman at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. In the dream, he found himself in a campus dining hall. It was winter, but Mazurek wasn’t wearing his favorite coat. “I realized that, OK

A newfound gravitational wave ‘hum’ may be from the universe’s biggest black holes

Beneath the explosions, collisions and other intermittent bangs in the cosmos, scientists suspect a nonstop soundtrack plays, created by ripples in spacetime continually washing through the universe. After more than a decade of searching, scientists may have finally heard that background hum. Several teams of researchers from around the world reported on June 28 the

A hunt for fungi might bring this orchid back from the brink

If the work is a success, scientists could possibly regrow the species in the wild Cooper’s black orchid, a rare, critically endangered species found only in New Zealand, relies on fungi for the nutrients it needs to sprout. Scientists are working to identify the fungi to prevent the flowers from dying out. Kathy Warburton/inaturalist (CC

Black holes resolve paradoxes by destroying quantum states

MINNEAPOLIS — Don’t try to do a quantum experiment near a black hole — its mere presence ruins all quantum states in its vicinity, researchers say. The finding comes from a thought experiment that pits the rules of quantum mechanics and black holes against each other, physicists reported April 17 at a meeting of the

T. rex may have had lips like a modern lizard’s

In movies and TV shows, Tyrannosaurus rex often sports a fleet of big, sharp teeth that are almost always on display. But the dinosaurs and their kin may have kept their pearly whites mostly tucked behind lizardlike lips. Similar to Komodo dragons today, these dinosaurs had ample soft tissue around the mouth that would have

The oldest known pollen-carrying insects lived about 280 million years ago

The oldest known fossils of pollen-laden insects are of earwig-like ground-dwellers that lived in what is now Russia about 280 million years ago, researchers report. Their finding pushes back the fossil record of insects transporting pollen from one plant to another, a key aspect of modern-day pollination, by about 120 million years. The insects —

Prairie voles can find partners just fine without the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin

Prairie voles have long been heralded as models of monogamy. Now, a study suggests that the “love hormone” once thought essential for their bonding — oxytocin — might not be so necessary after all. Interest in the romantic lives of prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) was first sparked more than 40 years ago, says Devanand Manoli

Mammoths may have gone extinct much earlier than DNA suggests

Some ancient DNA may be leading paleontologists astray in attempts to date when woolly mammoths and woolly rhinos went extinct. In 2021, an analysis of plant and animal DNA from sediment samples from the Arctic, spanning about the last 50,000 years, suggested that mammoths survived in north-central Siberia as late as about 3,900 years ago

Insect swarms might generate as much electric charge as storm clouds

You might feel a spark when you talk to your crush, but living things don’t require romance to make electricity. A study published October 24 in iScience suggests that the electricity naturally produced by swarming insects like honeybees and locusts is an unappreciated contributor to the overall electric charge of the atmosphere. “Particles in the

50 years ago, scientists dug into Pangaea’s past lives

Before Pangaea — What? — Science News, September 30, 1972 The continents as we know them resulted when the proto­continent Pangaea broke apart and its fragments made the long slow journey to their present positions. The process took about 200 m­illion years. But the Earth’s crust is an estimated 4.5 billion years old.… [Scientists are exploring]

A clever molecular trick extends the lives of these ant queens

For some ant queens, the secret to long life might be a self-produced insulin blocker. Ant queens are famously long-lived, even though they shouldn’t be. Generally, animals that put lots of energy into reproduction sacrifice some time off their life. But ant queens produce millions of eggs and live an extraordinarily long time compared with