Press Release Category: Science

Britons’ tools from 560,000 years ago have emerged from gravel pits

In the 1920s, laborers and amateur archaeologists at gravel quarry pits in southeastern England uncovered more than 300 ancient, sharp-edged oval tools. Researchers have long suspected that these hand axes were made 500,000 to 700,000 years ago. A new study confirms that suspicion in the first systematic excavation of the site, known as Fordwich. Dating

5 misunderstandings of pregnancy biology that cloud the abortion debate

On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. By undoing the landmark 1973 decision that protected a person’s right to an abortion, the highest court in the country has shifted decisions about this medical care to individual state and local governments. Some states have already passed laws that curtail abortion access. Now

Russia’s invasion could cause long-term harm to Ukraine’s prized soil

By now, wheat planted late last year waves in fields across Ukraine. Spring crops of sunflowers and barley are turning swaths of dark earth into a fuzz of bright green. But with Russia’s war being waged in some of the most fertile regions of Ukraine, uncertainty looms over summer harvesting. Ukrainian farmers braved a war

Seven newfound dwarf galaxies sit on just one side of a larger galaxy

PASADENA, Calif. — The faint dwarf galaxies in a nearby galaxy group seem to have missed the memo. Instead of being dispersed evenly around the group’s most massive galaxy, which is what happens in our own galaxy group, these newly found dwarfs cluster in one region. And astronomers don’t know why. “This satellite distribution is…

Here’s why pumpkin toadlets are such clumsy jumpers

Some frogs just can’t stick the landing. After launching into a leap, pumpkin toadlets careen through the air as if flung from a toddler’s fist. They roll, cartwheel or backflip and then plummet to the ground, often belly flopping or crash-landing on their backs. “I’ve looked at a lot of frogs and these are the…

Scientists created ‘smoke rings’ of light

Smoke rings are being seen in a new light. Doughnut-shaped structures called vortex rings are sometimes seen swirling through fluids. Smokers can form them with their mouths, volcanoes can spit them out during eruptions and dolphins can blow them as bubble rings. Now, scientists can create the rings with light. A standard vortex is an…

Quantum physics exponentially improves some types of machine learning

Machine learning can get a boost from quantum physics. On certain types of machine learning tasks, quantum computers have an exponential advantage over standard computation, scientists report in the June 10 Science. The researchers proved that, according to quantum math, the advantage applies when using machine learning to understand quantum systems. And the team showed…

A new origin story for domesticated chickens starts in rice fields 3,500 years ago

It turns out that chicken and rice may have always gone together, from the birds’ initial domestication to tonight’s dinner. In two new studies, scientists lay out a potential story of chicken’s origins. This poultry tale begins surprisingly recently in rice fields planted by Southeast Asian farmers around 3,500 years ago, zooarchaeologist Joris Peters and…

50 years ago, the United States and Soviet Union joined forces for science

A busy week for science in Moscow — Science News, June 3, 1972 U.S. and Soviet leaders … signed agreements on space, science and technology, health and the environment…. The space agreement … outlines plans for cooperation in fields such as meteorology, study of the natural environment, planetary exploration and space biology. Update The 1972 space agreement…

Great white sharks may have helped drive megalodons to extinction

For millions of years, megalodon sharks were top ocean predators — and then came the great whites. New analyses of teeth hint that competition for food from great white sharks may have helped give the megatoothed giants an extra shove toward extinction. Scientists reconstructed shark feeding habits by analyzing zinc in the teeth of 20…

Scientists made a Möbius strip out of a tiny carbon nanobelt

From cylindrical nanotubes to the hollow spheres known as buckyballs, carbon is famous for forming tiny, complex nanostructures (SN: 8/15/19). Now, scientists have added a new geometry to the list: a twisted strip called a Möbius carbon nanobelt. Möbius strips are twisted bands that are famous in mathematics for their weird properties. A rubber band,…

Lasers reveal ancient urban sprawl hidden in the Amazon

A massive urban landscape that contained interconnected campsites, villages, towns and monumental centers thrived in the Amazon rainforest more than 600 years ago. In what is now Bolivia, members of the Casarabe culture built an urban system that included straight, raised causeways running for several kilometers, canals and reservoirs, researchers report May 25 in Nature.…