Doomed Worlds: Planets Seen Disrupting, Not Forming
May 23, 2012
Much as astrobiologists would like to see the birth of a new planet, the ones we observe seem to be dying, not being born.
Crater Count Dating Still Unreliable
May 22, 2012
Worries about the crater count dating method, widely relied upon to infer ages of planetary surfaces, began emerging in 2005. Those worries have not subsided; they have only grown worse. Crater numbers may have nothing to do with age.
Earth's Magnetic Field Less Sustainable than Thought
May 17, 2012
Geophysicists have found that their favored dynamo theory for Earth's magnetic field is less stable than thought, leaving them wondering how our planet sustained its magnetic field for "geologic time."
Dark Matter as an Escape
May 14, 2012
Employing exotic unobservable entities such as dark matter may be an escape from scientific rigor in more ways than one.
New Chirality Solution Proposed
May 9, 2012
It's long been a mystery why cells use one hand of two-handed molecules, like left-handed amino acids and right-handed sugars. A new proposal solves the mystery, explaining how this phenomenon called homochirality arises naturally. Wait a minute...
Planetary Radiometric Dates 1/3 Younger
May 1, 2012
The half-lives of radioactive isotopes may not be as well-known as thought. One decay rate frequently used to date solar system objects had to be adjusted down to 66% of its former assumed value, impacting theories of planet formation.
Animals Have Biological GPS
April 30, 2012
Global Positioning System (GPS): that's a function. Maintaining a suite of satellites is one method for achieving the function. But there are other ways to figure out where in the world you are, and two very different animals show the way – naturally – using Earth's global magnetic field.
Planet Theories vs. the Evidence
April 26, 2012
Planet theorists are putting up a valiant fight against new findings, but in some cases, the evidence seems to be winning.
From Wonders of Nature to Wonders of Technology
April 22, 2012
Living things have solved physics problems like design engineers. Inventors are just now catching on to their tricks in ways that could improve our technology, weaning us off our crude, polluting past and ushering in advanced technology that is not only greener but more effective. The latest stars are two insects and a bacterium.
OOL for Landlubbers
February 12, 2012
No part of the universal evolutionary scenario gets more overhauls than the origin of life. Some say it began in the sea, some on the land. Some say it began at the bottom of the sea; others say that is the worst place for life to get going. The latest idea favors freshwater hot springs on land.
Lunar Upsets Challenge Paradigms
January 27, 2012
Forty years after the last moonwalkers came home, new discoveries about the moon are calling into question what scientists know about our celestial partner. But is it legitimate for scientists to invoke mystery forces when a favored theory faces falsifying evidence?
News for the Birds
January 24, 2012
Our amazing feathered friends range from tiny hummingbirds to fast-running ostriches, from penguins to pigeons. In both living and fossil forms, they provide endless opportunities for study and fascination. Here are a few recent examples of news for the birds, in both good and bad connotations of the phrase.
Geologists 750% Wrong in Death Valley
January 23, 2012
A volcanic explosion in northern Death Valley occurred 800 years ago, not 6,000, “far more recently than generally thought,” according to new dating estimates. The event that created Ubehebe Crater is so recent, in fact, geologists think another devastating explosion could happen today.
Tilt-A-World: Another Constraint on Habitability
January 12, 2012
Did you ever ride a Tilt-A-Whirl, one of those cheap carnival rides that makes you dizzy and sick? Our planet would be like that if its inclination were out of control. Without tilt stability, a new study reveals, we wouldn't be sick, we'd be dead, or never alive in the first place. It's not enough to be in the Habitable Zone. Would-be inhabited planets need to avoid a new problem, called “tilt erosion.”
Nature Does It Right
January 4, 2012
Scientists and engineers continue to find well-designed features in living things that are worth imitating.