Science

Science news

A potentially habitable planet about the size of Earth is orbiting the star that is nearest our solar system, according to scientists who describe the find Wednesday in the journal Nature.

It looks like it could be a cartoon character, but it's real. And this little squid is making waves on the internet.

Researchers from the Nautilus exploration vessel were cruising along the deep sea floor off California's coast when they came upon the bright purple creature with giant, stuffed-animal-like eyes.

"Whoa!" they exclaim in unison.

"It looks fake," one says. And those googly eyes? "It looks like they just painted them on," another says, to peals of laughter.

Rare T. Rex Discovered By Burke Museum Paleontologists

Aug 19, 2016

The Burke Museum is getting a new exhibit: A Tyrannosaurus rex skull. Seattle paleontologists unearthed the fossils in northern Montana last summer. It began when two museum volunteers, Jason Love and Luke Tufts, found fragments of large bones belonging to a carnivorous dinosaur.

Greg Wilson led the expedition and is Burke Museum’s adjunct curator of vertebrate paleontology. He says the excavation team had a feeling they were on the trail of a T. rex. Hear him describe it:

This is the conclusion of our three-part series. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

May 7: Race Day

In 1874, when the painter and naturalist Henry Wood Elliott was observing a small crowd of walruses on the Punuk Islands off Alaska's coast, he was preoccupied with the appearance of their pustules and the precise texture of their skins.

"The longer I looked at them the more heightened was my disgust; for they resembled distorted, mortified, shapeless masses of flesh," he wrote. Almost off-handedly, he noted their number — around 150, all male — before pondering their resemblance to "so many gnomes or demons of fairy romance."

When it comes to waves, it doesn't get much bigger than the gravitational variety. Einstein predicted that huge events — like black holes merging — create gravitational waves. Unlike most waves we experience, these are distortions in space and time. They roll across the entire universe virtually unimpeded.

Einstein first predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916, but none were spotted until recently. Given their incredible power, why did it take a century to locate them?

It came as a surprise this June when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended against using the nasal flu vaccine for the 2016-2017 flu season, citing a lack of evidence that it works.

Dozens of journal articles cross our desks at NPR each week and, like nurses in the emergency room, we need to do rapid triage.

First we scan for those in critical need of attention (they aren't all that frequent). Next we look for studies that are interesting but not essential. Finally, we ask ourselves whether articles that are iffy need some attention anyway, since other news organizations are going to run with them. We figure Shots readers would like to see our take.

"The wave" has been a popular diversion among spectators at stadium sporting events since at least the early 1980s, and over the years this pastime has caught the attention of physicists.

Astronomers think they've discovered a new planet in our solar system.

Now all they have to do is find it.

Nobody's actually seen the new planet. The reason astronomers think it's out there is the strange behavior of some smallish objects in the Kuiper Belt, a collection of celestial objects orbiting in the outer reaches of the solar system.

Jonathan Garaas has learned a few things in three seasons of backyard beekeeping: Bees are fascinating. They're complicated. And keeping them alive is not easy.

Every two weeks, the Fargo, N.D., attorney opens the hives to check the bees and search for varroa mites, pests that suck the bees' blood and can transmit disease. If he sees too many of the pinhead-sized parasites, he applies a chemical treatment.

Computer programs often reflect the biases of their very human creators. That's been well established.

The question now is: How can we fix that problem?

When you first meet Moises Velasquez-Manoff, the first thing you notice is his hair — or the lack of it.

He's completely bald.

"At age 11, I developed this condition, called alopecia areata, where I lost my hair," says Velasquez-Manoff, a science writer in Berkeley, Calif. "It started in patches, but eventually I lost it all."

Sharks can live to be at least 272 years old in the Arctic seas, and scientists say one recently caught shark may have lived as long as 512 years.

How Worm Warriors Are Beating An Unbeatable Worm

Aug 11, 2016

How do you get rid of river blindness? It's all about the worm.

Specifically, about "breaking the life cycle" of onchocerca volvulu, the parasitic worm that causes the disease, says Dr. Frank O. Richards Jr., who directs the Carter Center's river blindness elimination and other tropical disease programs.

Researchers in Brazil who are trying to help people with spine injuries gain mobility have made a surprising discovery: Injured people doing brain training while interacting with robot-like machines were able to regain some sensation and movement.

Oil that spilled from a derailed train in the Columbia River Gorge in June contaminated nearby groundwater. Starting in the next week, Union Pacific Railroad will be working with Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality to clean it up.

Night owls and stargazers, get ready for something spectacular on Thursday.

The annual Perseid meteor shower, already one of the most reliably impressive celestial events, promises to be especially good this year.

The Perseid shower happens every year in August "when Earth ventures through trails of debris left behind by an ancient comet," according to NASA.

Three college-age scientists think they know how to solve a huge problem facing medicine. They think they've found a way to overcome antibiotic resistance.

Many of the most powerful antibiotics have lost their efficacy against dangerous bacteria, so finding new antibiotics is a priority.

It's too soon to say for sure if the young researchers are right, but if gumption and enthusiasm count for anything, they stand a fighting chance.

"Microbes have always ruled the planet but for the first time in history, they are fashionable," writes Ed Yong in his new book, I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life, on sale Tuesday.

WATCH: Lessons In Wound Healing From Our Favorite Fly

Aug 9, 2016

Athletes Go For Gold With Red Spots Blazing

Aug 8, 2016

Swimmer Michael Phelps won Olympic gold again Sunday while covered in red — red spots, roughly medal-size, all over his shoulders and back.

The marks were the result of an ancient Eastern medicinal therapy known as cupping that is achieving new popularity among some athletes in the United States, including numerous Olympians.

Cupping typically involves treating muscle pain and other ailments with cups that apply suction to skin. Cupping is often combined with other forms of alternative medicine, such as acupuncture and massage.

This summer, NPR's science desk is thinking about waves, of all kinds — ocean, gravitational, even stadium waves. But what is a wave, anyway? My editor asked me to puzzle that one out. And, to be honest, I was puzzled.

Is a wave a thing? Or is it the description of a thing? Or is it a mathematical formula that produces a curve that gives you the description of a thing?

It's dusk at a park in Dallas, and white sheets are pinned up next to tall trees, fluttering like ghosts in the wind. They've been lit up with ultraviolet lights to attract moths.

A handful of people are holding up their smartphones, zooming in on the small dark specks that fly to the cloth.

"Bugs have become my obsession," says Annika Lindqvist. "And the more you look, the more you have to look at the tiny things, and when you blow them up you see that they are gorgeous."

Many medical studies involving children never end up being put to use because scientists frequently don't publish the results of their work, according to an analysis published online Thursday.

The findings raise both scientific and ethical issues regarding research on this vulnerable population.

The federal government announced plans Thursday to lift a moratorium on funding of certain controversial experiments that use human stem cells to create animal embryos that are partly human.

The National Institutes of Health is proposing a new policy to permit scientists to get federal money to make embryos, known as chimeras, under certain carefully monitored conditions.

Copycat versions of biotech drugs work just as well as the originals and cost a lot less, according to an analysis of studies of the medicines.

The analysis by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health finds that so-called biosimilars — medications that are meant to mimic, and compete with, complex and expensive biotech drugs — perform as well as the brand-name versions.

Mix swimming and basketball with soccer, toss in some wrestling for good measure, and you have a pretty good description of the exciting, fast-paced sport of water polo.

The U.S. women's water polo team is ranked No. 1 in the world and is considered the favorite to bring home the gold medal at the Rio Olympics.

Since women's water polo became an Olympic sport in 2000, the U.S. women have medaled every time, and they won their first gold in London four years ago.

Adam Summers used to trade Snickers bars to get free CT scans of dead fish.

He likes fish. A lot.

Summers is a professor at the University of Washington in the biology department and School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences.

"I've always been a fish guy," he says. "It's just been in my blood since I was as small as I can remember." Summers was a scientific consultant on Finding Nemo and did similar work with Finding Dory.

Can Diabetes Alert Dogs Help Sniff Out Low Blood Sugar?

Jul 29, 2016

For people with diabetes who take insulin, the risk of losing consciousness from low blood sugar is a constant fear. Devices called continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) can alert wearers to dropping levels, but not everyone has access to them. And even among those who do, some prefer a furrier and friendlier alert option: a service dog with special training to alert owners when their blood sugar reaches dangerously low levels.

Pages