Scientists Record Volcanic Thunder For the First Time

When a volcano erupts, it can spew a cloud of ash miles into the stratosphere. It makes for an impressive sight, and an even more impressive amount of sheer material — large eruptions can loft cubic miles of rock and ash skyward. And, to add to the wow factor, the clouds sometimes spawn their own lightning. As the cloud swirls chaotically in its journey skyward, the jagged ash particles are rubbed against one another, causing static electricity to accumulate. Static electricity in nature

Drones Get Grabby With an Origami Arm

We all know drones offer unique views from above, but give ‘em a hand and they can do a whole lot more. With a functioning arm they could better enter tight areas or lend a hand in gathering samples. Taking inspiration from origami, a team of researchers from Seoul National University in Korea created a deployable arm that easily attaches to a drone and unfurls when needed. In the past, origami-inspired designs were limited because they aren’t exactly structurally sound. Researchers, howe

Is Human Adult Neurogenesis Dead? And Does It Matter?

Does the human brain continue creating new neurons throughout adult life? The idea that neurogenesis exists in the adult human hippocampus has generated a huge amount of excitement and stimulated much research. It's been proposed that disruptions to neurogenesis could help to explain stress, depression, and other disorders. But a new study, published in Nature, has just poured cold water on the whole idea. Researchers Shawn F. Sorrells and colleagues report that neurogenesis ends in humans so

Finding Stephen Hawking’s Star—And Finding Your Own

When I look at the night sky, I often view the stars not just in space but also in terms of their places in time. Light moves at a finite speed (299,792 kilometers per second, to be precise), so the journey from star to star is a very long one even for a beam of light. When astronomers talk about light years of distance, they are literally describing the number of years it takes for light to travel from those distant stars to your eyeball. And so when I heard about the death of Stephen Ha

Avoiding Pitfalls in Paleontology: A Couple Case Studies

In 2015, astrophysicist and science commentary go-to guy Neil Degrasse Tyson, flubbing an answer on a quiz show, quipped: "I love being wrong because that means...I learned something new that day." That's my favorite of Tyson's many memorable lines, and it's one that I wish I heard other researchers express more often. Science at its best is about constant refinement and being willing to learn new things — even when the new evidence or hypotheses contradict what some researchers, out of e

Goodbye, Professor Hawking

Well, if you’re on the internet today, you’ve probably already heard: Stephen Hawking died this morning at the age of 76. Almost every single news and science-based website (are there any others?) have stories on the physicist and his amazing life and achievements — chief among them, perhaps, being famous enough to deserve all those headlines. He was almost certainly the world’s most recognizable living scientist, and one of the most famous of all time. If people know him for anything spe

All Galaxies Rotate Once Every Billion Years

In a study published March 9 in The Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, astronomers announced the discovery that all disk galaxies rotate about once every billion years, no matter their size or mass. “It’s not Swiss watch precision,” said Gerhardt Meurer, an astronomer from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), in a press release. “But regardless of whether a galaxy is very big or very small, if you could sit on the extreme edge of its disk as it sp

A Brilliant Life: Stephen Hawking Defied All Odds

Soon after I enrolled as a graduate student at Cambridge University in 1964, I encountered a fellow student, two years ahead of me in his studies, who was unsteady on his feet and spoke with great difficulty. This was Stephen Hawking. He had recently been diagnosed with a degenerative disease, and it was thought that he might not survive long enough even to finish his PhD. But he lived to the age of 76, passing away on March 14, 2018. It really was astonishing. Astronomers are used to

Citizen Science Day is April 14. Add or discover events from around the world on SciStarter.

[embed][/embed] Citizen Science Day, presented SciStarter and the Citizen Science Association, is an annual event to celebrate and promote all things citizen science: amazing discoveries, incredible volunteers, hardworking practitioners, inspiring projects, and anything else citizen science-related! Citizen Science Day is April 14. Hundreds of events will be held around the world and you can find them on SciStarter. Organizing an event? Add your event, then use

Scientists Link Arctic Heat and Northeast Blizzards

In late February, an invasion of warm, southern air sent temperatures surging above freezing across the Arctic and toward the North Pole. In the two weeks since then, three nor’easters have smacked New England and the surrounding areas. As the Arctic warms, this trend has become common in recent winters, and it’s drawn new attention to links between the polar vortex — a constant mass of cold, dense air rotating over the north pole — and weather patterns farther south. When the polar vo

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