Press Release Category: Science

Here are our favorite cool, funny and bizarre science stories of 2021

A range of cool discoveries, technological milestones and downright bizarre scientific feats — cows can be potty trained? — gave us a chance to gab about something other than the pandemic. Fusion of the future Hopes for making nuclear fusion the clean energy source of the future got a boost in August when a fusion…

50 years ago, scientists were genetically modifying mosquitoes

Sterility gene for mosquito control — Science News, December 18, 1971 Scientists are working hard to find a substitute for DDT in the control of malaria vector mosquitoes.… Two experiments with mosquitoes breeding in old tires in New Delhi point to an answer: a gene for sterility that would be passed to offspring. Update Today,…

A terrifying robot can thwart invasive mosquito fish

Invasive mosquito fish are often fearless.  Free from the predators of their native range, these mosquito fish run rampant, throwing naive ecosystems from Europe to Australia out of whack. To keep the problematic fish in check, scientists are trying to strike fear back into the hearts of these swimmers with a high-tech tool: robots. In…

Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier ice shelf could collapse within five years

The demise of a West Antarctic glacier poses the world’s biggest threat to raise sea levels before 2100 — and an ice shelf that’s holding it back from the sea could collapse within three to five years, scientists reported December 13 at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting in New Orleans. Thwaites Glacier is “one…

Ingenuity is still flying on Mars. Here’s what the helicopter is up to

The Ingenuity Mars helicopter was never supposed to last this long. NASA engineers built and tested the first self-powered aircraft to fly on another planet to answer a simple question: Could the helicopter fly at all? The goal was to take five flights in 30 Martian days or break the aircraft trying. But more than…

Cleared tropical forests can regain ground surprisingly fast

Tropical forests are disappearing at an alarming clip across the globe. As lush land is cleared for agriculture, climate-warming carbon gets released and biodiversity declines. But when farmland is left alone, nature can make a surprisingly quick comeback. After just 20 years, forests can recover by nearly 80 percent in certain key areas, including biodiversity and…

Wildfire smoke may ramp up toxic ozone production in cities

Wildfire smoke and urban air pollution bring out the worst in each other. As wildfires rage, they transform their burned fuel into a complex chemical cocktail of smoke. Many of these airborne compounds, including ozone, cause air quality to plummet as wind carries the smoldering haze over cities. But exactly how — and to what…

Physicists have coaxed ultracold atoms into an elusive form of quantum matter

An elusive form of matter called a quantum spin liquid isn’t a liquid, and it doesn’t spin — but it sure is quantum. Predicted nearly 50 years ago, quantum spin liquids have long evaded definitive detection in the laboratory. But now, a lattice of ultracold atoms held in place with lasers has shown hallmarks of…

Light-colored feathers may help migrating birds stay cool on long flights

From teeny hummingbirds to giant whooping cranes, roughly half of the world’s more than 10,000 bird species migrate. Longer wings and beefed-up flying muscles often help these birds crisscross vast expanses of air. But a study of nearly all bird species suggests many migrators share another unexpected flight aid: lighter-colored feathers. Being a tad more…

Tiny living machines called xenobots can create copies of themselves

Tiny “living machines” made of frog cells can replicate themselves, making copies that can then go on to do the same. This newly described form of renewal offers insights into how to design biological machines that are self-perpetuating. “This is an incredibly exciting breakthrough,” for the field of biologically based robotics, says Kirstin Petersen, an…

50 years ago, corporate greenwashing was well under way

Skip to content Environmental advertising: A question of integrity— Science News, November 27, 1971 A new report published by the Council on Economic Priorities clearly outlines facts showing that much corporate advertising on environmental themes is irrelevant or even deceptive.… A large percentage of the environmental advertising comes from companies that are the worst polluters.…

Climate change may be shrinking tropical birds

In a remote corner of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, researchers have spent decades catching and measuring birds in a large swath of forest unmarred by roads or deforestation. An exemplar of the Amazon’s dazzling diversity, the experimental plot was to act as a baseline that would reveal how habitat fragmentation, from logging or roads, can hollow…