SCIENCE FOR KIDS
Big carnivores like brown bears and wolverines used to be scarce in Europe, but these top-of-the-food-chain animals are becoming more common throughout the continent. That's what Guillaume Chapron of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and his fellow scientists found out when they studied reports of these animals from European countries.
While hunting for the comet that would make him famous, Charles Messier began a list of stationary (non-comet) objects to save himself time. Over 400 years later and Messier's comets are all but forgotten, but his catalog of cosmic gems continues to be used by astronomers all over the world. This new photograph shows Messier 47 a stunning star cluster filled with hot blue stars.
What is the 'cosmic web' and what role did it play in the history of the Universe? A new study has looked at how galaxies evolved when the Universe was just half its current age and it looks like those caught in the cosmic web raced through their lives much faster than others!
All over the world, the number of bees and other insects that pollinate plants has shrunk in the last half-century. Scientists think there are probably a lot of different reasons for this, including destruction of land and plants that bees use. Now a new study suggests that bees in Britain began disappearing more than 100 years ago when people there began to change how they farmed.
A UT Arlington College of Education neuroscience researcher has developed a holiday gift guide that can help parents engage young children in STEM concepts.
ATERUI just became the world's most powerful cosmic supercomputer thanks to a new upgrade -- it's now able to perform one trillion calculations per second! ATERUI's amazing power will now be used to recreate events from across the universe, including the formation of planets, the growth of supermassive black holes and the explosions of massive stars!
When an electric eel charges all its biological batteries, it can send out a 600-volt zap through the water. Impressed? What if we told you that it uses that power in a way that is even more ... ahem ... shocking? It turns out that the eels are using those zaps to remotely control the muscles of fish that they want to eat.
Moody's Mega Math (M3) Challenge, a rigorous team competition known for its distinctive hands-on learning experience for high school students, offers participants resources to use well into their careers. This year -- the competition's 10th anniversary -- marks the first time competitors will have access to licenses and subscriptions not previously offered during the annual contest.
The darker the observing site, the brighter the night sky and this amazing new photograph of space was taken by a telescope in one of the most remote regions on Earth, the Atacama Desert. It shows the bright stars of the Wishing Well Cluster, which earned its name because of the many stars that resemble silver coins sparkling at the bottom of a wishing well.
Researchers studied almost 15,000 soil samples from 365 different sites around the world to paint the most vivid picture of Earth's fungi yet. It's important to understand how fungi are distributed around the world -- and how it responds to human activities -- because this group of organisms plays a serious role in human health, they say.
Researchers designed a model that measures the magnetic field of a distant exoplanet, or a planet outside of the solar system, and they suggest that it could be used to estimate the magnetic strength of other exoplanets as well. These magnetic fields can't be seen with the naked eye, but the invisible shields protect some planets, including Earth, from charged particles sent from the stars.
The removal of trees from wetlands around the world, such as swamps, bogs, and marshes, is making these environments even wetter, according to a new study. Actually, researchers say that the ongoing deforestation of wetlands may even be creating new wetlands in certain parts of the world. But this phenomenon goes largely unnoticed because most studies of the environment have not been designed to look for it, they say.
Moody's Mega Math Challenge, a hands-on learning experience and high school math modeling competition in its 10th year, opens team registration today. Teams from across the country will present real-world solutions for a chance to win a portion of $125,000 in scholarships this spring.
You might think the hardest part of a mission to space is the launch, but landing offers its own kind of challenge. The Soyuz spacecraft begins plummeting to Earth at almost 30,000 kilometers per hour. (That's 100 times quicker than the fastest train!) To return the astronauts home safely, this speed needs to be greatly reduced before they hit the ground. But how do we manage this?
Using the ALMA telescope, astronomers have captured this amazing new photograph showing the birth of a solar system for the first time and in amazing detail!
Bats on the trail of a tasty insect miss capturing their prey when competing bats nearby make a special interfering call, a new study published in the Nov. 7 issue of the journal Science shows.
Houston-area grade schoolers have until Nov. 15 to reserve a spot in the 13th Annual Mars Rover Model Celebration and Competition at UH. Open to students in grades three through eight, the contest is an educational program developed to spark students' interest in science and technology.
Millions of people around the world have had laser surgery to correct their eyesight, but did you know this surgery is only possible thanks to technology developed for use in space? The eye-tracking device was originally designed for experiments on astronauts aboard the International Space Station and now it's used to save people's vision all over the planet!
By combining the power of four very large telescopes into one super-telescope, astronomers have given themselves the ability to peer closely at almost 100 distant stars. And they discovered ghostly false dawn light glowing around nine of them -- exactly as we see it in our own solar system! This spooky phenomena is caused by sunlight reflecting off dark cosmic dust.
A fungus from Asia that recently made its way to Europe, where it has killed many salamanders, may have traveled through the international pet trade, according to researchers. This fungus, known as Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, is lethal to at least a dozen European and North American salamander and newt species, which means that it could pose a threat of extinction unless steps are taken to halt its spread, they say.
Most Sun-like stars are found in binary systems, made up of two stars that tug at each other like fighting siblings, making it difficult for planets to form. However, astronomers have just discovered the ingredients for a potential planet around a binary star, and thanks to a nearby disc providing a nourishing lifeline it might just survive to become a planet!
On the next Orbital Sciences Corporation's commercial resupply trip to the space station, students and space go together like the Cygnus spacecraft's docking to the orbiting laboratory.
You might think of evolution as something that takes millions and millions of years to happen -- and yes, sometimes it does take that long for an animal or plant species to change. But scientists watching two species of lizards got a chance to see one of those lizard species evolve in just 10 years -- a biological blink of an eye.
For 30 years astronomers have been watching with fascination at the strange, flickering light of a young nearby star. We now know that this strange twinkling effect is caused by hundreds of comets passing in front of the star!
Carnegie Mellon University professor David Brumley and two student-run teams will host the second annual PicoCTF competition, a nation-wide computer security contest aimed to help high school students learn the basics of hacking in the context of a story-driven game. Nearly 2,000 teams from 1,000 schools participated in last year's event. This year's competition will be held Oct. 27-Nov. 7 at http://picoctf.com.
Plants can persist in landscapes full of hungry plant eaters, or herbivores, either by shielding themselves with special defenses like thorns, or by putting down roots in risky regions where carnivores -- who hunt the herbivores -- roam.
Galaxy clusters are the largest groups in the entire Universe, containing hundreds or even thousands of gigantic star-filled galaxies. This week astronomers have been looking at the Spiderweb Galaxy forming at the center of a galaxy cluster. The Spiderweb Galaxy is one of the oldest galaxies ever discovered, and it's made up of dozens of smaller galaxies all merging together!
Scientists are getting closer to making prosthetic hands and arms look and act like real hands and arms.Dustin Tyler at Case Western Reserve University and colleagues show that two adult male amputees can perform everyday tasks for over a year (including strenuous outdoor activities such as chopping wood) without problems.
It's not easy being a predator. Finding, chasing and killing your prey is hard work, and it requires a lot of energy. That's why researchers have been studying medium-sized predators (mesopredators) like cheetahs and pumas so much: they want to know how these wild cats are able to hunt so effectively without exhausting themselves.
Using a large telescope in Chile, astronomers have spotted a flock of space ducks! Unless you have the eyes of a hawk, you'll need a telescope or pair of binoculars to see this cluster of stars. Or a photograph, like this one! This beautiful picture shows the Wild Duck Cluster.
Astronaut Alexander Gerst is currently halfway into his six-month mission on the International Space Station called the 'Blue Dot.' This mission will deliver over 100 science experiments designed to improve life on Earth, test out new technologies and prepare for further exploration of the solar system and space!
When Rosetta left Earth 10 years ago it carried with it a little probe called Philae. Soon Philae will heads out on a mission of its own -- to become the first probe to land on the surface of a comet! Choosing a landing site on the unusually shaped comet has been a challenging task, but has now been decided that Philae will land on the head of the 'comet' at the so-called 'Site J'!
Where did the water in our solar system come from? For years, researchers have been debating whether it came from processes that took place after the sun was born, when the planets were just beginning to form -- or if it was created much earlier, before a cold cloud of gas even formed the sun. Now, it appears that researchers finally have an answer.
What is a planet? For generations of kids the answer was easy. A big ball of rock or gas that orbited our sun, and there were nine of them in our solar system. But then astronomers started finding more Pluto-sized objects orbiting beyond Neptune. Then they found Jupiter-sized objects circling distant stars, first by the handful and then by the hundreds. Suddenly the answer wasn't so easy. Were all these newfound things planets?
For many years astronomers have believed that when two similar-sized spiral galaxies collide, they will mash together a type of galaxy called an elliptical galaxy. But, if this is correct, how are there still so many spiral galaxies in the universe. Just last week they finally found the answer!
Wind off the coast of California drives cool, nutrient-rich waters from the depths of the Pacific Ocean up to replace warm surface water in a process called coastal upwelling. Now, a new study shows that this upwelling off California's coast has become more variable over the past 60 years than almost any other time during the last 600 years.
For many students, the idea of summer school is anything but inspiring. Students of the 2014 NASA Space Radiation Summer School might disagree. The students, experts in their respective fields of study, were recently immersed in three weeks of intense education, collaboration and perhaps most importantly, inspiration.
Recent studies of star clusters beyond our galaxy have provided new insight into the mystery of the universe's lost lithium -- a chemical created just minutes after the birth of the universe in the Big Bang.
Researchers studying birds in Costa Rica have made an interesting discovery: older species, which have been evolving for a long time, go extinct much quicker than newer species, which haven't had as long to evolve, when forests are converted to farmland. This discovery shows how changing a landscape can actually change the tree of life by favoring certain species over others -- and it may help with conservation efforts in the future.
This year marks the 13th anniversary of the Mars Rover Model Celebration and Exhibition at the University of Houston. In September, UH will host workshops to prepare teachers for coaching their students through the planning and completion of operational rover models. Designed for Houston-area students in grades three through eight, this competition invites kids to design and construct Mars rover models.
National Drug Facts Week, which brings together teens and scientific experts to shatter persistent myths about drug use and addiction, will be held Jan. 26 through Feb. 1, 2015. Ideas for community-based events, as well as success stories from previous years, are highlighted on the National Drug Facts Week Web portal. The fifth National Drug Facts Week is sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health.
Researchers studying the last deglaciation, when Earth's ice sheets were beginning to melt, now know more about the temperature of Greenland at that time, thanks to a new report. For years, studies have suggested that Greenland started warming up later than the rest of the Northern Hemisphere -- about 14,700 years ago instead of about 19,000 years ago, when the deglaciation began.
What lies in the space between stars? Where do cosmic clouds come from? And is a vacuum more than something your mum uses to suck up dust? This week's Space Scoop will answer all these questions, and it comes with a cosmic weather forecast!
By bouncing powerful radar beams from a satellite, a German team of scientists have created very detailed maps of how the height changes across the ice sheets.
Like Sherlock with his famous magnifying glass, astronomers use lenses to improve our view of the world -- they use telescopes. And very occasionally, they stumble across an amazing and rare cosmic phenomenon called 'gravitational lensing.' When this happens, a natural cosmic magnifying glass is created, boosting our vision of the universe allowing us to look at distant objects that wouldn't be visible otherwise!
Researchers have determined that it would cost Brazil less than 1 percent of its gross domestic product, or the total amount of goods and services that the country produces each year, to set aside enough private farmland to conserve the Atlantic Forest -- one of the world's most diverse habitats.
NASA's Global Precipitation Measurement, or GPM, mission recently completed a competitive process to select 25 teachers from around the world for its Master Teacher Program. The chosen educators will develop educational resources based on GPM's data -- with a focus on the water cycle and related applications -- to share with their students and school communities.
As students prepare to return to school for the 2014-2015 academic year, the Innovative Technology Partnerships Office at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., is pleased to announce educational scholarships for top-placing students in NASA's most recent OPTIMUS PRIME Spinoff Video Contest.
Efforts to restore degraded coral reefs that have been overrun by seaweed could be complicated by some new findings in this week's issue of Science. Danielle Dixson and colleagues studied coral larvae and young reef fish from the coastal waters of Fiji and found that both of these aquatic drifters were attracted to chemical signals released by healthy corals and repulsed by similar cues coming from seaweed.
The Sally Ride Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students (EarthKAM) program provides a unique educational opportunity, allowing students to photograph and analyze our planet from the perspective of the International Space Station.