Yet another alarming milestone of humanity’s damaging effect on the environment has now officially been reached – crossing a barrier into a hot, polluted future like the planet hasn’t witnessed in millions of years. This weekend, sensors in Hawaii recorded Earth’s atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) passing 415 parts per million (ppm) for the
Elon Musk just gave us the first look at his rocket company’s bold plan to bring ultra-high-speed internet to the entire world. Musk tweeted out an image of 60 satellites packed into SpaceX’s Falcon rocket on Saturday, along with fresh details about the global satellite networking gambit. SpaceX currently plans to launch the rocket on
We learn about some awesome science in high school – like Einstein’s theory of relativity, the Periodic table, and DNA replication. The knowledge we pick up there sets the foundations for all the other amazing things we go on to study. But science definitely doesn’t end at high school, and it’s once you take your
There’s no denying that keeping livestock has deeply benefited humanity over the millennia. But, while sheep and cows may have adapted well to farm life, there’s one animal humans like to eat that would fare poorly in farms. Octopuses, scientists have argued in a new essay, should never be farmed – not just because of
At the University of California, Santa Barbara, researchers with the UCSB Experimental Cosmology Group (ECG) are currently working on ways to achieve the dream of interstellar flight. Under the leadership of Philip Lubin, the group has dedicated a considerable amount of effort towards the creation of an interstellar mission consisting of directed-energy light sail and
Nothing says “Happy Mother’s Day” quite like pancakes. That’s probably what IHOP had in mind when it tweeted about the holiday this morning. But things quickly got a lot weirder. “If you have pancakes in your tum tum, does that make you a pancake mum mum? Happy Mother’s Day to ALL the mums out there!”
For 1,400 years, an underground burial chamber lay untouched in the British countryside, hiding its long-dead denizen and his royal secrets. Then, in 2003, construction workers in the town of Prittlewell (about 40 miles from London) were expanding a roadway when they stumbled upon the remarkable tomb. Over time, researchers unearthed a lyre, gold coins,
Our first picture of a black hole was a huge moment for science. But we can’t stop there. We need better pictures that deliver more information. That’s how we’ll learn even more about these strange, rule-breaking behemoths. Now a group of astronomers from the Radboud University in the city of Nijmegen, Netherlands, along with the European Space
Numbers figure pretty high up on the list of what a computer can do well. While humans often struggle to split a restaurant bill, a modern computer can make millions of calculations in a mere second. Humans, however, have an innate and intuitive number sense that helped us, among other things, to build computers in
Today the Australian Koala Foundation announced they believe “there are no more than 80,000 koalas in Australia”, making the species “functionally extinct”. While this number is dramatically lower than the most recent academic estimates, there’s no doubt koala numbers in many places are in steep decline. It’s hard to say exactly how many koalas are
Today, an unexpected twist in the whale tale that’s captured the world’s attention: In April, a group of fishermen in Norway discovered an unusually tame beluga whale wearing a harness seemingly meant to hold a camera. Written on the harness? The words “Equipment of St. Petersburg.” Enter speculation that the whale was a Russian spy.
On Thursday, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin presented its plans to reach the Moon, including a brand new design for its “Blue Moon” lander. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk then took to Twitter to crudely imply that Bezos was building unwarranted hype for a plan that wasn’t going anywhere — a move that
When you’ve been surviving in all sorts of environments for billions of years, you pick up a few tricks for harvesting light as efficiently as possible – and now long-living, light-emitting microalgae could be about to help us develop the next generation of solar panels. These fluorescent algae are able to capture up to 95%
In recent years, it’s emerged that some dinosaurs – considered scaly and reptilian for many years – were actually wearing feathers. But a newly discovered species of scansoriopterygid dinosaur sports a different style. This tiny creature had bat-like wings: leathery, not feathery. It’s called Ambopteryx longibrachium, and it was just 33 centimetres (13 inches) long.
Torrential rains that have brought flooding to regions across Romania are also highlighting the horrifying human impact on the planet. A video posted to Facebook shows a literal river of garbage surging downstream in the commune of Micești in Argeș County. It’s hard not to gasp in dismay at a frankly shocking amount of plastic
A man has given back a meter-long stone core he took from Stonehenge more than 60 years ago. Robert Phillips removed the sample during an archeological operation in 1958, where he was working to help reinforce a cracked stone, according to Historic England, the charity which preserves the site. Philips kept it with him for
Along the Black River in North Carolina, bald cypress trees have been quietly growing for millennia. Quite literally so: Scientists recently found trees over 2,000 years old – including one that is at least 2,624 years old. That makes it the fifth-oldest known non-clonal tree in the world. (Utah’s Pando, an ancient quaking aspen forest,
Bank notes can have similarities to books we put on our shelves to show off but have never really closely examined – let alone read. Millions of copies, tucked away in people’s homes, gradually changing from their “just purchased” clean look to a more yellowed afterlife. But sometimes, after months or years, someone finally takes
Jeff Bezos’ private space company Blue Origin revealed its long-awaited plans to go to the Moon at a mysterious press event today. Bezos showed off a brand new design of its “Blue Moon” lander, which is designed to carry 6.5 tons (5.9 tonnes) to the surface of the Moon. According to Bezos, the Blue Origin
There are few things that tether us more to Earth than the food we eat and the air we breathe. Today, humans have the engineering willpower to travel to the Moon and possibly beyond, but when our planet recedes behind us and we slip beyond the reach of human aid, then what? In the absence
If you want to know how far radioactive particles can travel, here’s the answer: all the way to the Mariana Trench, which at 10,994 metres (36,070 ft) is the deepest natural trench in the world. A new study shows that radioactive carbon from Cold War nuclear bomb tests is still present in the crustaceans living
The Universe didn’t begin as we see it today, glittering with light. For the first 500 million or so years, it was a murky, neutral hydrogen-filled darkness. Then something started exciting the hydrogen with radiation, ionising it – and lo, there was light. We don’t know what ultimately caused that first ultraviolet light to shine.
It’s been 33 years since the Chernobyl nuclear power plant tragically blew apart in a meltdown, spreading nuclear fallout across the land. A lot has changed, but the surroundings still contain some of the most radioactive patches of soil on the planet. Last month, researchers from the University of Bristol mapped that radioactivity in a
Here’s a question for you. If A is greater than B, and B is greater than C, then is A greater than C? It’s a simple puzzle, something children can solve. In fact, even animals have demonstrated the form of reasoning – called transitive inference – that we use to answer this kind of problem.
It has taken one of the most powerful lasers on the planet, but scientists have done it. They’ve confirmed the existence of ‘superionic’ hot ice – frozen water that can remain solid at thousands of degrees of heat. This bizarre form of ice is possible because of tremendous pressure, and the findings of the experiment
In a perfect world, plastic would never be on a one-way trip into landfill – it’s a vision we’ve strived to realise for decades. Unfortunately, some plastics just don’t recycle as easily as others, limiting how well we can reuse them in new products. But a new kind of plastic might help change all that.
For most of us, the jump from meat-eater to vegetarian is a big one. For the giant panda, the switch was all too easy. Despite a long family history of meat-heavy meals, this large bear now feeds almost exclusively on tough bamboo – a change its ancestors made more than 2 million years ago. For
There’s a stark contrast between the freezing temperatures of space and the relatively balmy atmosphere of Earth, and that contrast could help generate electricity, scientists say – utilising the same optoelectronic physics used in solar panels. The obvious difference this would have compared with solar energy is that it would work during the night time,
The faint, flickering distortions of space-time we call gravitational waves are tricky to detect, and we’ve only managed to do so in recent years. But now scientists have calculated that these waves may leave more persistent traces of their passing – traces we may also be able to detect. Such traces are called ‘persistent gravitational
British power plants have broken a new record for the longest continuous coal-free streak since the distant era of the Industrial Revolution. At time of writing, it’s been over six days (and counting) since the UK relied upon coal-burning for electricity generation: establishing a modern record of 159+ continuous hours without coal, eclipsing a previous-best
A grave of neatly arranged bones near the modern day Polish village of Koszyce captures a tragic moment in history, hinting at a man’s return from afar to find his family massacred at the hands of an enemy. While we can only imagine the personal story that unfolded some 5,000 years ago, a fresh look
A full set of Gym Badges isn’t the only way to tell a true Pokémon player from a novice. Stanford researchers have now found that those adults who played the video game for hours as a kid, have an area in their brain that holds the memory. Tucked behind the ear in a region that usually
The pattern of El Niño has changed dramatically in recent years, according to the first seasonal record distinguishing different types of El Niño events over the last 400 years. A new category of El Niño has become far more prevalent in the last few decades than at any time in the past four centuries. Over
As the content of Earth’s atmosphere changes over time, the course of animal evolution itself might change. An international team of researchers now thinks that swinging oxygen levels somehow orchestrated the boom and bust of our planet’s fauna, like the conductor of a living symphony. For the first time, their research has linked the rapid
In the mountainous cloud forests of Borneo, nothing goes to waste, and that includes waste itself. Here, the largest carnivorous plant on Earth has evolved to become a sort of customised outhouse for local tree shrews (Tupaia montana). With a toilet seat perfectly contoured to the mammal’s backside, this huge, jug-shaped pitcher plant (Nepenthes rajah)
Scientists have identified what they say could be the first evidence of a tectonic plate peeling into two separate layers under the ocean. This epic but still hypothetical division phenomenon – to the extent we can detect it in computer modelling – could be responsible for the birth of a new subduction zone, where one
A violent collision between two neutron stars 4.6 billion years ago showered the as-yet-unformed Solar System with heavy elements, new research has found. As much as 0.3 percent of Earth’s gold, platinum and uranium (along with other heavy elements) could have been forged in the fire of a merger 1,000 light-years away, when the Solar
For the first time, scientists have performed an iconic physics experiment with a positron – the antimatter counterpart of an electron, one of the fundamental particles. Not only did they get some truly interesting results, but this achievement could become the first step towards potentially revolutionary discoveries. The experiment – an antimatter version of the
Two tiny tyrannosaurid skeletons have just filled in the fossil record, elucidating the humble origins of the Cretaceous’ mightiest predator, Tyrannosaurus rex. Dating back to around 92 million years ago, the two tyrannosaurs hail from the Zuni Basin in New Mexico. They stood just 1 metre (3 feet) tall and have been named Suskityrannus hazelae.
A perplexing riddle affecting dozens of families in the Cleveland area has finally been solved, but not before weeks of wreaking havoc on people who – bizarre as it sounds – were unable to open their car and garage doors. In late April, residents of the town of North Olmsted, Ohio began finding that their
One million plant and animal species are on the verge of extinction, with alarming implications for human survival, according to a United Nations report released Monday. The landmark report by seven lead co-authors from universities across the world goes further than previous studies by directly linking the loss of species to human activity. It also
Amongst the huge variety of life on Earth, there are some mighty resilient microorganisms out there. Now, scientists have tracked down an ocean microbe that survives by breathing arsenic – the chemical element we humans regard as a notorious poison. The researchers think this is an ancient survival strategy used in the distant past when oxygen
Native American shamans living in South America 1,000 years ago had quite the pharmacopoeia in their toolkits. A shaman’s bag found in Bolivia contained a special pouch with traces of multiple psychotropic plants inside, as well as a pretty impressive assembly of paraphernalia. In addition to the pouch, stitched together from three fox snouts, the
Whenever I visit the Sahara I am struck by how sunny and hot it is and how clear the sky can be. Aside from a few oases there is little vegetation, and most of the world’s largest desert is covered with rocks, sand and sand dunes. The Saharan sun is powerful enough to provide Earth
Thanks to recent groundbreaking observations, we now know that two colliding black holes produce gravitational waves – ripples in the fabric of space-time. It was thought that the waveform (or shape) of the signal produced by these events was too complex to be calculated, but now a theoretical astrophysicist has done just that. In a
On 29 April, 2027, a terrible and world-changing event occurred. A 60-metre (200-foot) asteroid called 2019 PDCentered Earth’s atmosphere at a shocking speed of 19 kilometres per second (43,000 mph) and impacted over New York’s Central Park. Up to 20 megatons of energy were released in the airburst – 1,000 times the energy of the
An ever-growing body of evidence suggests the planet may be in the midst of a sixth mass extinction. The phrase “mass extinction” typically conjures up images of the asteroid crash that led to the twilight of the dinosaurs. But another devastating (though perhaps less obvious) extinction event appears to be taking place today. The trend is
Sometimes it seems as if life is passing us by. When we are children, time ambles by, with endless car journeys and summer holidays which seem to last forever. But as adults, time seems to speed up at a frightening rate, with Christmas and birthdays arriving more quickly every year. But perhaps it doesn’t need