Latest Blog Posts


What Does a Meteor Sound Like?

By Nathaniel Scharping | February 21, 2017 4:57 pm

When a meteor screams through our upper atmosphere, it’s a silent show for us here on the ground. Most meteors burn up dozens of miles above the surface, and even if a sonic boom reaches us it comes minutes after the visual spectacle.

However, reports of meteors have for years been accompanied by reports of strange sizzling sounds filling the air, as if someone was frying bacon. Sound travels too slowly for the meteor to be directly responsible for the phenomenon, so such reports are usua …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts


Kennewick Man's Bones Reburied, Settling a Decades-Long Debate

By Amy Klinkhammer | February 21, 2017 4:47 pm

Unearthed in 1996 after part of his skull was found along the shores of the Columbia River in Washington, Kennewick Man, a 9,000-year-old Paleoamerican, would soon be regarded as the most important human skeletal discovery in American history.

A Crisis of Ancient Identity

When two college students reported that they had found a skull fragment in the river, scientists responded quickly. After searching for and collecting nearly 300 other pieces of bone, they were able to determine that …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: archaeology


The Brightest Pulsar Has a Complex and Powerful Magnetic Field

By Alison Klesman | February 21, 2017 2:27 pm

The supermassive black holes found at the centers of galaxies are known for their extreme X-ray emission. This emission is associated with the massive hot disks of gas and debris that circle these monstrous black holes before it is consumed.

However, X-ray observations of distant galaxies have also uncovered additional luminous X-ray sources that aren’t associated with the galactic centers (where supermassive black holes are found). These are ULXs, or ultraluminous X-ray sources. ULXs h …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: pulsars

Citizen Science Salon

Out of Sight, Out Of Mind: Visualizing the Invisible

By Guest | February 21, 2017 2:15 pm

By Kaitlin Vortherms

When smog is so thick that it clouds our vision, we can see and acknowledge that air pollution is a problem. In December of last year, China issued its second ever red alert, their highest rating for air pollution, and last month, London broke modern air pollution records.

But on days when the haze has lifted, we tend to forget air pollution is still there. More to the point, we forget about how air pollution affects our health and the environment. It’s out of sight, …


In Ancient Chacoan Society, Women Ruled

By Ian Graber-Stiehl | February 21, 2017 12:03 pm

Before they disappeared in 1130, the Chacoans of New Mexico were a society on par with the Mayans.

Without a writing system to speak of, they maintained complex trade partnerships with nearby populations. They lived in sprawling, complex stone mini-cities called “great houses”—the largest of which, Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon, boasted 650 rooms. They Chacoans were one of North America’s earliest complex societies, but archaeologists still aren’t sure why they disappeared—climate …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: archaeology

The Crux

What Causes a 'Butterflies in the Stomach' Sensation?

By Bradley Elliott, University of Westminster | February 21, 2017 7:00 am

If you have ever been nervous about something that is about to happen, then you may have felt the sensations of nausea and “fluttering”—the recognizable and odd sensation deep in your gut known as having “butterflies in the stomach.”

Perhaps you were about to give a speech to a large audience, were in the waiting room for a big interview, were about to step up and take a key penalty shot or about to meet a potential love interest. Rather than actual butterflies bouncing around y …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Top Posts, Uncategorized


Atmospheric Rivers Bring Record Winds, Torrential Rains

By Nathaniel Scharping | February 20, 2017 4:02 pm

Rivers in the sky may be responsible for up to 75 percent of the largest, most extreme wind and rainfall events that ravage the coasts.

The streams of moisture, called atmospheric rivers, originate in the tropics and often stretch for thousands of miles across the ocean in a thin band. They deliver a deluge of rain that causes major floods, landslides and a rash of insurance claims. In addition to soaking us, a new study shows that atmospheric rivers are also responsible for bringing  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, top posts


This Squid Gives Better Side-Eye Than You

By Elizabeth Preston | February 20, 2017 1:30 pm

Yes, this cephalopod is looking at you funny. It’s a kind of cockeyed squid—an animal that looks like some jokester misassembled a Mr. Potato Head. One of the cockeyed squid’s eyes is big, bulging and yellow. The other is flat and beady. After studying more than 25 years’ worth of undersea video footage, scientists think they know why.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) in California has been dropping robotic submarines into the ocean for decades. The footage fro …


The Science of the Rorschach Blots

By Neuroskeptic | February 20, 2017 9:56 am

When the psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach blotted ink onto paper to produce a series of abstract patterns, could he have known that nearly 100 years later, the Rorschach test would be a household name?

Although the use of the Rorschach to diagnose mental illness is mostly a thing of the past, research on the test continues. Last week, two new papers were published on the Rorschach blots, including a fractal analysis of the images themselves and a brain scanning study using fMRI.

The  …

Seriously, Science?

Android vs. iPhone: what your phone choice says about you.

By Seriously Science | February 20, 2017 6:00 am

Given all the money spent on advertising, it’s no wonder there are stereotypes about iPhone and Android users. But are these real? Is there anything you can predict about me just from knowing whether I use an iPhone or Android (and vice versa – can you predict my phone choice from my personality)? Well, according to these researchers, there really are population differences between iPhone and Android users: if I told them I used an iPhone, they would guess that I’m younger, female, and “incr …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: reinforcing stereotypes

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