Some 130 million years ago, in a galaxy far away, the smoldering cores of two collapsed stars smashed into each other. The resulting explosion sent a burst of gamma rays streaming through space and rippled the very fabric of the universe. On Aug. 17, those signals reached Earth — and sparked...
  • Heating Dirt Could Cause a Runaway Rise in Carbon Emissions

    Tucked into the apple-growing hills of Western Massachusetts is the Harvard Forest, a 3,700-acre wooded preserve that hosts school kids on field trips, day-tripping hikers, and, for more than a quarter century, a highly unusual science experiment. For the past 26 years, strings of subterranean electrical wires have heated...
  • Nobel Prize honors technique for seeing molecules’ details

    Three researchers based in the U.S., U.K. and Switzerland won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday for developments in electron microscopy. The 9-million-kronor ($1.1 million) prize is shared by Jacques Dubochet of the University of Lausanne, Joachim Frank at New York’s Columbia University and Richard Henderson of MRC...
  • How earthquake scientists eavesdrop on North Korea’s nuclear blasts

    On September 9 of last year, in the middle of the morning, seismometers began lighting up around East Asia. From South Korea to Russia to Japan, geophysical instruments recorded squiggles as seismic waves passed through and shook the ground. It looked as if an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.2 had...
  • How Climate Change Is Already Affecting Earth

    Though the planet has only warmed by one-degree Celsius since the Industrial Revolution, climate change’s effect on earth has been anything but subtle. Here are some of the most astonishing developments over the past few years....
  • Stephen Hawking: Trump Pushing Earth’s Climate ‘Over The Brink’

    The world’s best-known living physicist, Stephen Hawking, says that President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate change accord could lead humanity to a tipping point, “turning the Earth into Venus.” The Cambridge professor and renowned cosmologist made the remarks in an interview with the BBC that aired Sunday....
  • Incredible New Observation Shows Supermassive Black Holes Orbiting Each Other

    You think our galaxy is special? Ha. Our boring pinwheel of gas and dark matter might be a nice hangout for humans. But 750 or so million light years away, there’s an elliptical galaxy, Galaxy 0402+379, whose two supermassive black holes are orbiting each other from a distance of...
  • Look, kids! Science!

    In my very first Experimental Error column in 2010, I made fun of standard science demonstrations, especially one I called “Let’s All Gawk at Liquid Nitrogen.” Why, I complained, were certain experiments so universal, especially when they showed nothing about what scientists actually do? Now, 7 years and 82...
  • Molecular system for artificial photosynthesis

    Photosystems (PS) I and II are large protein complexes that contain light-absorbing pigment molecules needed for photosynthesis. PS II captures energy from sunlight to extract electrons from water molecules, splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen ions (H+) and producing chemical energy in the form of ATP. PS I uses...
  • Everyone Stop Freaking Out Over Italy’s Super volcano

    YELLOWSTONE USED TO be the favored target of media volcano panic, but now it looks like Italy’s Campi Flegrei has taken that crown for itself. A recent study published in Nature Communications is the latest impetus for headlines like “Italian Supervolcano Might Be on the Verge of Exploding” or...

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