Science

20-million-year-old tusked sea cow is Central America’s oldest marine mammal

Steven Manchester didn’t set out to discover Central America’s oldest known marine mammal. He was hoping to find fossil plants. Manchester, curator of paleobotany at the Florida Museum of Natural History, had left a group of vertebrate paleontologists uphill of the Panama Canal to do his own prospecting, clambering down onto the narrow, exposed shoreline […]

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Citizen scientist finds ancient white dwarf star encircled by puzzling rings

A volunteer working with the NASA-led Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 project has found the oldest and coldest known white dwarf — an Earth-sized remnant of a Sun-like star that has died — ringed by dust and debris. Astronomers suspect this could be the first known white dwarf with multiple dust rings. The star, LSPM J0207+3331 […]

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Earth may be 140 years away from reaching carbon levels not seen in 56 million years

here at a rate nine to 10 times higher than the greenhouse gas was emitted during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a global warming event that occurred roughly 56 million years ago. The results suggest if carbon emissions continue to rise, the total amount of carbon dioxide injected into the atmosphere since humans started burning […]

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Astronomers may have spotted the birth of a neutron star

For the first time, astronomers may have watched a massive stellar explosion give rise in real time to a superdense dead star called a neutron star. New observations of supernova 2012au show charged oxygen and sulfur atoms fleeing the scene of the explosion at 2,300 kilometers per second. That suggests the shells of gas surrounding […]

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A new species of high-altitude hummingbird may already be in trouble

A new hummingbird species has been discovered high in the Ecuadorian Andes, but in numbers so low the bird may already be critically endangered. Named for its cobalt-colored feathers, the blue-throated hillstar hummingbird nibbles on insects and slurps pollen from chuquiraga plants in a remote, treeless ecosystem known as the Páramo. Like other high-altitude hummingbirds from the […]

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Fiberglass-spinning robots could be construction workers of the future

Much like a silkworm uses a single thread to swaddle itself in a cocoon, a new kind of robot spins a single strand of material around its body to build custom-shaped fiberglass structures. The new robots could create customized construction materials on-site, unlike other industrious bots that assemble premade building blocks (SN: 3/22/14, p. 8). Fleets of […]

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Marijuana use among pregnant women is rising, and so are concerns

I’m relatively new to Oregon, but one of the ways I know I’m starting to settle in is my ability to recognize marijuana shops. Some are easy. But others, with names like The Agrestic and Mr. Nice Guy, are a little trickier to identify for someone who hasn’t spent much time in a state that […]

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Early tests pave the way for a giant neutrino detector

An enormous future particle detector is now within closer reach. The first data from a prototype experiment hint that scientists may have what it takes to build the planned neutrino detector. Known as the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, or DUNE, the experiment will use 70,000 metric tons of liquefied argon to study the secrets of […]

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Survey raises worries about how screen time affects kids’ brains

Nearly two out of three U.S. kids spend more than two hours a day looking at screens, a new analysis of activity levels finds. And those children perform worse on memory, language and thinking tests than kids who spend less time in front of a device, the study of over 4,500 8- to 11-year-olds shows. […]

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The SN 10: These scientists defy limits to tackle big problems

Scientific disciplines, as we know them, are a fairly recent invention. As late as the 18th century, both amateur and professional scientists let their intellect range unfettered. The great Renaissance painter Leonardo da Vinci explored architecture, engineering, geology, botany and more. He is credited with inventing the helicopter, a diving suit and painting the Mona Lisa. […]

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