Press Release Category: Science

Europa may have much more shallow liquid water than scientists thought

Europa’s frozen surface is covered with distinctive pairs of ridges that straddle troughs of ice. These double ridges are the most common features on the Jovian moon. But scientists don’t yet have a clear idea of how the oddities are created. Now, an analysis of images of a similar set of ridges on Greenland’s ice…

Most bats don’t echolocate in broad daylight. Here’s an exception

Despite their excellent vision, one city-dwelling colony of fruit bats echolocates during broad daylight — completely contrary to what experts expected. A group of Egyptian fruit bats (Rousettus aegyptiacus) in downtown Tel Aviv uses sound to navigate in the middle of the day, researchers report in the April 11 Current Biology. The finding greatly extends…

This hieroglyph is the oldest known record of the Maya calendar

Buried within the Las Pinturas pyramid in San Bartolo, Guatemala, thousands of painted plaster mural fragments offer a window into ancient Maya civilization. Two of those fragments form the earliest known record of a Maya calendar, created between 300 and 200 B.C. The fragments depict the date of “7 Deer” from the 260-day sacred calendar…

50 years ago, the future of solar energy looked bright

Farming the sun’s energy – Science News, April 8, 1972 More and more scientists and engineers are beginning to believe that solar conversion will account for a significant portion of the world’s future power needs.… What has changed the atmosphere lately is … the possibility of putting together large-scale units, solar-energy “farms” that would compete…

The W boson might be extra hefty. If so, it could hint at new physics

There’s something amiss with a mass. A new measurement of the mass of an elementary particle, the W boson, has defied expectations. The result hints at a possible flaw in physicists’ otherwise stalwart theory of the fundamental bits and bobs of our world, known as the standard model. That theory predicts a W boson with…

Binary stars keep masquerading as black holes

As astronomy datasets grow larger, scientists are scouring them for black holes, hoping to better understand the exotic objects. But the drive to find more black holes is leading some astronomers astray. “You say black holes are like a needle in a haystack, but suddenly we have way more haystacks than we did before,” says…

A global warming pause that didn’t happen hampered climate science

It was one of the biggest climate change questions of the early 2000s: Had the planet’s rising fever stalled, even as humans pumped more heat-trapping gases into Earth’s atmosphere? By the turn of the century, the scientific understanding of climate change was on firm footing. Decades of research showed that carbon dioxide was accumulating in…

‘Vagina Obscura’ shows how little is known about female biology

Vagina ObscuraRachel E. GrossW.W. Norton & Co., $30 More than 2,000 years ago, Hippocrates, the Greek physician often considered the father of modern medicine, identified what came to be known as the clitoris, a “little pillar” of erectile tissue near the vagina’s entrance. Aristotle then noticed that the seemingly small structure was related to sexual…

Lost genes may help explain how vampire bats survive on blood alone

Surviving on blood alone is no picnic. But a handful of genetic tweaks may have helped vampire bats evolve to become the only mammal known to feed exclusively on the stuff. These bats have developed a range of physiological and behavioral strategies to exist on a blood-only diet. The genetic picture behind this sanguivorous behavior,…

Here’s the best timeline yet for the Milky Way’s big events

A new analysis of nearly a quarter million stars puts firm ages on the most momentous pages from our galaxy’s life story. Far grander than most of its neighbors, the Milky Way arose long ago, as lesser galaxies smashed together. Its thick disk — a pancake-shaped population of old stars — originated remarkably soon after…

Smoke from Australia’s intense fires in 2019 and 2020 damaged the ozone layer

Towers of smoke that rose high into the stratosphere during Australia’s “black summer” fires in 2019 and 2020 destroyed some of Earth’s protective ozone layer, researchers report in the March 18 Science. Chemist Peter Bernath of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., and his colleagues analyzed data collected in the lower stratosphere during 2020 by…

How to make irresistible traps for Asian giant hornets using sex

Male Asian giant hornets captivated by the chemical signals of a ready-to-mate queen could one day find themselves stuck in a trap instead. In a new study, scientists identified three chemicals in the sex pheromone of Asian giant hornet queens. When traps with those chemicals were placed near the hornets’ nests in China — part…