Science

  • Search for ‘rewards’ is big driver in remodeling a teen’s brain
    A limp red balloon floats on the computer screen before you. Clicking your mouse inflates it. The bigger it is when you stop, the more money you earn. But if it pops before you stop, you get nothing. Anna van Duijvenvoorde is a psychologist at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Her team uses computer games…
  • Explainer: What is a neuron?
    It’s morning. As you sit up in bed, your feet touch the cold floor, so you lift them and put on your socks. In the kitchen, you watch the cereal pour from the box and hear it ping against the bowl. You tip in a stream of milk — carefully — because you spilled it…
  • Light levitation might help explore Earth’s ‘ignorosphere’
    Two tiny discs rise upward, hovering in midair as bright light illuminates them. “I see it!” gasped Mohsen Azadi. He and several fellow PhD students cheered with excitement. They had helped to discover a new way to fly. There were no motors or propellers to lift the discs. Bright light had done the trick. It…
  • Ingenuity helicopter makes history by flying on Mars
    NASA has just flown a helicopter on Mars. Named Ingenuity, the craft hovered for about 40 seconds above the Red Planet’s surface. This marks the first flight of a spacecraft on a planet other than Earth. In the wee hours on April 19, the helicopter spun its rotor blades and ascended into the thin Martian…
  • Let’s learn about exercise
    Exercise might seem like a chore sometimes, especially when we get told so often that we should exercise more. But we need to get up and start moving. Many of us spend too much time sitting and staring at screens. Most teen girls don’t meet the standards for physical activity. Getting scolded about this, though,…
  • Earth as you’ve never seen it before
    When cartographers — people who make maps — set out to portray the Earth, they have to turn a 3-D sphere into a 2-D map. And that’s a lot harder than it sounds. Smooshing the globe into a flat image usually distorts lots of surface features. Some expand. Others shrink, sometimes by a lot. Now…
  • Scientists Say: Dinosaur
    Dinosaur (noun, “DIE-no-sore”) This is a member of a group of both living and extinct reptiles that are in the clade Dinosauria. A clade is a group of species that share a common ancestor. Dinosaurs appeared between 243 and 233 million years ago. Some grew to enormous size — such as the massive Dreadnoughtus (Dred-NAW-tus)…
  • Surfing the winds would make future jet travel greener
    Flying someone one-way from London, England, to New York City produces nearly a ton of carbon dioxide. That’s a lot of this climate-warming greenhouse gas. In some countries, few people do enough in a whole year to emit that much CO2. But there are ways to cut the climate impact of flying. One new innovation:…
  • Too much sitting could hurt your mental health
    The COVID-19 pandemic has knocked many people on their butts — literally. At first, many schools switched to online classes. When some of these schools resumed in-person classes, they cut down on students moving from place to place. Likewise, many companies let people work from home. This means fewer people have been walking to bus…
  • Six tips to build more movement into your day
    Moving your body regularly and often is a key to good health. But for people who don’t feel the urge to exercise, sitting can become a habit that hurts the body and the brain. Here are some easy tips that will invite more movement into your routines. 1. Budget in some mobile breaks Make a…
  • Bandages made from crab shells speed healing
    A new medical dressing helps skin wounds heal faster. Its innovative ingredient is the structural material in the skeletons, scales and shells of marine animals and insects. Called chitin (KY-tin), this polymer is second only to plant cellulose as nature’s most abundant material. And as a natural waste produced by seafood-processors, it costs little. Jinping…
  • Could a toothpaste help treat peanut allergy?
    It may one day be possible for people to treat food allergies by simply brushing their teeth. A New York City–based company has launched a trial of a product to do that it in a small group of adults. All are allergic to peanuts. The idea is to expose users to small daily doses of…
  • The world wastes roughly a sixth of the food produced each year
    Each year, the world wastes about one-sixth of the food available to consumers. That’s the finding of a new United Nations report. It crunched numbers for 2019, the most recent year for which data are available. The report now estimates global food losses at about 931 million metric tons (1.03 billion U.S. tons). That’s an…
  • Scientists Say: Placebo
    Placebo (noun, “Plah-SEE-bo”) A placebo is a substance or procedure that is supposed to have no medical effect. Placebos are often used in clinical trials to help scientists figure out if a new medicine or treatment works. Some people in the trial are given the new drug — say, a new pill to kill pain.…
  • An ancient hippo-sized reptile may have been a speedy beast
    Some 260 million years ago, dinosaurs had not yet evolved. Other reptiles reigned as land’s largest predators. These anteosaurs were bone crushers. A new analysis now suggests these hefty beasts may have been relatively speedy. “This contradicts what we knew about anteosaurs before,” says Ashley Kruger. He’s a paleontologist. He works at the Swedish Museum…
  • Science and Indigenous history team up to help spirit bears
    Indigenous people in what is now the Great Bear Rainforest of western Canada tell a story about the bears there. When the Raven — or Wee’get — created the world, he also created the Ice Age. When the ice finally began to melt, Raven wanted to do something to remind himself of that time. As…
  • Explainer: Black bear or brown bear?
    You might think it’s easy to tell whether you’re seeing a black bear (Ursus americanus) or a brown bear, which is sometimes called a grizzly bear (Ursus arctos). After all, one is black, and one is brown, right? Well, not quite. Some grizzly bears can be very dark. Some black bears can be brown, grey,…
  • Changing people’s behavior can make bear life better
    No one expects a bear in the parking lot. When Seymour Kankel, 10, was getting in the car to go to summer camp in 2019, he wasn’t exactly keeping an eye out for bears. But there it was, about 30 meters (30 yards) away, crawling calmly out of a dumpster. Seymour, a fifth grader who…
  • Urban pollution can pose unseen risks to kids’ immunity and more
    Tobacco and other pollutants don’t just stink up the air. They also alter immune cells in ways that could hurt the body. Some can raise blood pressure, even in kids. That’s the finding of three new studies. Taken together, they show that dirty air does not just pose risks to the lungs. It also threatens…
  • Let’s learn about DNA
    It might not seem like humans have much in common with a sea sponge. People walk around on land, drive cars and use cell phones. Sea sponges stay attached to the rock, filter out food from water and don’t have Wi-Fi. But sponges and people both have something very important in common — DNA. In…
  • Analyze This: Cows burp less methane after early-life treatment
    Belching cows give off much of the methane that comes from raising farm animals. Now researchers have found a way to make a long-lasting slash to how much potent greenhouse gas is burped by cows. Cows are ruminants. Their stomachs contain multiple sections for digesting greens. Ruminants’ gut microbes help break down tough plant fiber…
  • Scientists may have finally found how catnip repels insects
    A whiff of catnip can make mosquitoes buzz off. Now researchers know why. The active component of catnip (Nepeta cataria) repels insects. It does this by triggering a chemical receptor that can spur sensations such as pain or itch. Researchers reported this March 4 in Current Biology. The sensor is dubbed TRPA1. It is common in…
  • Scientists Say: Acceleration
    Acceleration (noun, “ack-SELL-er-AY-shun”) This is the rate of change in velocity over time. Velocity is the speed of something in a given direction. Acceleration is when velocity changes. Because velocity is both speed and direction, acceleration can involve speed and direction as well. Speeding up is accelerating. Turning left is accelerating, too. Even slowing down…
  • Urban gardens create a buffet for bees
    The buzz of bees in summer is quieter than it used to be. Other pollinators are also struggling to survive. These include butterflies, flies and moths. There are many reasons such species are in decline. But loss of food sources is a key piece of the puzzle. However, urban gardens can provide critical nectar supplies…