Other News

Top Stories

The best content on DiscoverMagazine.com.

Dating Do-Over For Anzick-1, Famous First Americans Burial

Posted: June 18, 2018, 7:00 pm |
He is arguably the most famous ancient American baby: an infant First American whose partial remains were found 50 years ago on a Montana ranch. But while Anzick-1, as the child is known, changed our understanding of the human history of the Americas, critics have complained the dates around the burial are messy, and throw the significance of the site into question.

Today, researchers announce the results of a second look at the dating discrepancy that’s caused controversy over the famous

Last month was the fourth warmest May on record, two reports out today agree

Posted: June 18, 2018, 6:54 pm |
In their monthly climate reports released today, both NASA and NOAA agree that last month was fourth warmest among all Mays dating back to 1800.

This means that the period 2014 through 2018 has brought the five warmest Mays in 138 years of record-keeping, according to NOAA’s report. The warmest was May 2016.

“May 2018 also marks the 42nd consecutive May and the 401st consecutive month with temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th century average,” according to NOAA.

As t

22,000-year-old Panda Skull Shows New Family Line

Posted: June 18, 2018, 3:00 pm |
When Qiaomei Fu got her hands on a 22,000-year-old panda skull in 2014, she was both surprised and elated.

An expert in paleogenomics, Fu had done most of her past work on the DNA of ancient humans, but she has a personal interest in pandas. Now, in 2018, she and her team at the Chinese Academy of Sciences are the first to have sequenced the entire mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genome of an ancient giant panda. The work is outlined in Current Biology.

The skull was discovered by her collea

Ayahuasca, the Psychedelic Antidepressant?

Posted: June 17, 2018, 11:09 am |
A traditional Amazonian psychedelic brew is an effective and rapid-acting antidepressant, according to a paper just published. But the new study revives some long-standing questions.

Ayahuasca is a mixture of herbs, traditionally used for spiritual and therapeutic purposes. The main active ingredients are N,N-DMT, a potent psychedelic, and several molecules that inhibit the enzyme MAO. The MAO inhibitors serve to prevent the N,N-DMT from being broken down by the digestive system, allowing

El Niño is gestating in the Pacific, possibly heralding warmer global temps and extreme weather in 2019

Posted: June 15, 2018, 10:17 pm |
While 2019 is still a long way off, we’ve now got some strong hints that the coming year could bring even warmer global temperatures, plus droughts in some regions, and floods in others.

These climatic and weather effects would come from an El Niño that seems to be gestating in the tropical Pacific.

A warming of tropical Pacific waters beneath the surface, along with the output of computer and statistical modeling, have prompted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to is

What Does God Look Like?

Posted: June 15, 2018, 6:39 pm |
What would you say if you saw this stranger on a bus? Well, if you’re Christian, you might say he’s God.

Psychologists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill surveyed 511 Christians in the U.S. and, based on the participants’ combined perceptions, this is roughly what they thought God should look like.

The team, led by Joshua Conrad Jackson, showed the volunteers 300 pairs of random faces. For each pair, people were instructed to flag the face they thought looked most

To Avoid Humans, More Wildlife Now Work the Night Shift

Posted: June 15, 2018, 4:46 pm |
For their first 100 million years on planet Earth, our mammal ancestors relied on the cover of darkness to escape their dinosaur predators and competitors. Only after the meteor-induced mass extinction of dinosaurs 66 million years ago could these nocturnal mammals explore the many wondrous opportunities available in the light of day.

Fast forward to the present, and the honeymoon in the sun may be over for mammals. They’re increasingly returning to the protection of night to avoid the Ea

How Can a Baby Have 3 Parents?

Posted: June 15, 2018, 4:21 pm |
It seems impossible, right? We have been taught from the time we were young that babies are made when a sperm and an egg come together, and the DNA from these two cells combine to make a unique individual with half the DNA from the mother and half from the father. So how can there be a third person involved in this process?

To understand the idea of three-parent babies, we have to talk about DNA. Most people are familiar with the double helix-style DNA which make up the 23 pairs of chromo

Astronomers Catch Black Hole Devouring Star

Posted: June 14, 2018, 6:00 pm |
Astronomers Seppo Mattila and Miguel Pérez-Torres usually study the natural deaths of stars, but they weren’t going to pass up the chance to investigate a stellar murder.

A new paper in Science describes how they nabbed photographic evidence that a supermassive black hole in a relatively nearby galaxy tore apart and consumed part of a star in a phenomenon called a tidal disruption event (TDE), spewing jets of material in the process. Scientists have observed these cosmic crime scenes befo

The Milky Way Just Got Larger

Posted: June 14, 2018, 1:00 pm |
Despite residing in it, it’s hard for us to know exactly how big the Milky Way is. But new research has found that our galaxy is bigger than previously thought. Using a large survey of stars instead of just models (as previous researchers did), astronomers have now determined the disk of our galaxy to be 200,000 light-years across — twice as large as was believed a decade ago.

Astronomers know the Milky Way to be a spiral galaxy with a flat central disk composed of spiraling arms and a sp

Earliest Rainforest Frogs Preserved in Amber

Posted: June 14, 2018, 1:00 pm |
Frogs in a rainforest? Sure, rainforests are home to tons of them. Nothing new there — except that researchers just found four, preserved in amber and nearly 100 million years old, that suggest frogs have been hanging out in that environment much longer than previously shown.

Anura, the amphibian order that includes frogs and toads, has been around for at least 200 million years. But the frog fossil record is spotty, and the earliest examples of the animals appear to have lived in bodie

Watch a Magnetic Material Skitter Around

Posted: June 13, 2018, 5:44 pm |
We’re around magnets so much, it’s easy to forget they’re kind of magic. Not only do magnets make for fun toys, they can attract or repel objects from a distance through an invisible force, they can create electricity (and vice versa) and they can make cool new tools and materials possible.

A team of mechanical engineers from MIT and the New Jersey Institute of Technology has gone down that last path, publishing in Nature today a new method of producing soft, programmable materials. Their

Sobering Finds in Most Comprehensive Study Ever on Antarctic Ice Loss

Posted: June 13, 2018, 5:00 pm |
Some 3 trillion tons of ice has melted from Antarctica since 1992, and there’s not much time to change course. That’s according to a sweeping group of studies published Wednesday in the journal Nature that looks at the past, present and future of Antarctic ice sheets.

Scientists are calling it the most complete picture ever of ice loss on the southern continent.

“Scientists are really speaking with one voice and we hope that it will help the public understand the problem,” says project

Dirt Could Help Fight Superbugs

Posted: June 13, 2018, 5:00 pm |
About 23,000 Americans die each year due to a bacterial infection resistant to antibiotics. Since 2010, the number of children infected with bacteria resistant to antibiotics has increased sevenfold.

In recent years, the misuse and overuse of antibiotics led to the superbug phenomenon, in which bacteria that cause illness and disease become resistant to medicines. That makes it harder to treat conditions like pneumonia and food-related illnesses.

Now, a group of researchers are looking

Faster Rewards Mean More Motivation

Posted: June 13, 2018, 2:34 pm |
It’s just after lunch. You’ve got an assignment due soon, but you’re sleepy and would rather mindlessly browse the internet. How will you find the motivation to get going and actually finish the thing? A new study suggests getting a reward for your work sooner rather than later can help boost your interest in and enjoyment of the task at hand.

The paper, published in the June issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, consists of a series of experiments. They were all

When Does Hungry Become Hangry?

Posted: June 12, 2018, 3:46 pm |
Have you ever been grumpy, only to realize that you’re hungry?

Many people feel more irritable, annoyed, or negative when hungry – an experience colloquially called being “hangry.” The idea that hunger affects our feelings and behaviors is widespread – from advertisements to memes and merchandise. But surprisingly little research investigates how feeling hungry transforms into feeling hangry.

Psychologists have traditionally thought of hunger and emotions as separate, with hunger and o

Nearly two decades of revealing satellite images now available at your fingertips

Posted: June 10, 2018, 6:43 pm |
Bear witness to the changing face of our planet using an easy-to-use tool for accessing a trove of satellite data

The longest continuous daily satellite observation record of Earth ever compiled is now available for all of us to peruse. All you need is access to a computer.

Multiple instruments aboard NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites, launched in 1999 and 2002, respectively, have kept close watch on the virtually the entire planet for nearly 20 years. Now, for the first time, the entire

“The Love of Neuroscience” and the Neuroscience of Love

Posted: June 9, 2018, 3:50 pm |
There is a growing research literature on the ‘Neuroscience of Love’. But what exactly is this ‘love’ that is being studied?

Sociologist Gabriel Abend asks these questions in a new paper called The Love of Neuroscience published in Sociological Theory. Last year I discussed one of Abend’s previous papers which asked more general questions about how neuroscientists define the objects they study. In the new paper, Abend looks specifically at ‘love’ and how this word has been understood

Carbon dioxide at highest level ever directly measured

Posted: June 8, 2018, 7:42 pm |
Rather than declining, CO2 levels in the atmosphere are rising thanks to continuing growth in emissions of the climate-altering gas

The Paris Agreement was intended to turn the world onto a new path, one that would limit the risks and impacts from climate change through lowered emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

But according to the latest indication, we’re still on the old path.

In May, CO2 levels in the atmosphere exceeded 411 parts per million, as measured

Real ‘Westworld’ Haptic Vests Better Than Fiction

Posted: June 8, 2018, 5:35 pm |
Most of the HBO show “Westworld” focuses on artificial intelligence and android robots that seem indistinguishable from humans. But the show has also occasionally snuck in some real-world technology that seems futuristic enough to blend in with the science fiction setting. One example of such real technology in “Westworld” comes in the form of haptic vests that made their debut in the show’s second season.

Freeze all motor functions and turn back now if you want to avoid spoilers about th