Latest Blog Posts


Illuminating the night with curtains of light: the aurora borealis seen from above and below

By Tom Yulsman | April 15, 2019 4:07 pm

I’ve been meaning to write a story about the aurora borealis ever since I captured photos of an astonishing display in January when I was visiting Tromsø, Norway to cover the Arctic Frontiers conference. Finally, the satellite image above offered the perfect excuse.

It was captured by the Suomi NPP spacecraft as it orbited above North America on March 28, 2019. The spacecraft has a nighttime sensor that can capture relatively faint emissions of light under varying illumination con …

Photo of game showing a blood vessel video

Citizen Science Salon

Didn’t get to join the Megathon on #CitSciDay2019? You have until tomorrow at midnight!

By cnickerson | April 13, 2019 5:14 pm

Today is Citizen Science Day (#CitSciDay2019), and our featured event is the Stall Catchers #Megathon, an online game you can play from anywhere (with internet access) to help Cornell scientists better understand how stalled blood flow contributes to Alzheimer’s disease.

We had our “catching hour” on Stall Catchers from 2 PM to 3 PM ET today. But because of technical difficulties, we’re extending the fun. If you didn’t get a chance to play Stall Catchers and contribute to Alzh …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: citizen science day
MORE ABOUT: Alzheimer's, Megathon

Vintage Space

Why Apollo Had a Flammable Pure Oxygen Environment

By Amy Shira Teitel | April 13, 2019 11:03 am

Fire, as we know, needs three things: a source of heat, fuel and oxygen. Apollo lunar missions had all three in spades. There was plenty of electricity running through the spacecraft, lots of material that could be fuel and a 100 percent oxygen atmosphere under pressure. So why exactly did NASA design a spacecraft that was an explosion waiting to happen? (This is a question I get *a lot* so I hope this gives a full answer!)

Not long after President Kennedy famously challenged America …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: Apollo, History, NASA, Space


Ariana Grande's PTSD Brain Scan

By Neuroskeptic | April 13, 2019 10:45 am

The brain became a celebrity this week when Ariana Grande shared the results of a scan of her brain seemingly showing signs of severe PTSD:

Is there any science behind this?

Not really.

The source of the scan isn’t clear but I’m 99% sure that the image was taken at one of Dr Daniel Amen’s controversial clinics. Amen uses similar graphics in his brain scans. If it is an Amen scan, then the ‘blobs’ seen on Grande’s brain represent areas of increased or decreased cerebral blood flow (C …

The Crux

Running Made Us Human: How We Evolved to Run Marathons

By Bridget Alex | April 12, 2019 4:54 pm

This Monday the 123rd annual Boston Marathon will take place, with an expected 30,000 participants and a half million spectators. The top finishers should complete the grueling 26.2-mile course in just over 2 hours by clocking a pace of under five minutes per mile.

I know. It’s painful to imagine. Most of us couldn’t maintain that speed for one mile — forget 26 of them.

But take heart, recreational runners of the world. Your endurance abilities are actually extraordinary, when com …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Top Posts

Citizen Science Salon

Can you spare one hour tomorrow to help accelerate a year of Alzheimer's research?

By cnickerson | April 12, 2019 1:45 pm

Tomorrow is Citizen Science Day (#CitSciDay2019) and there are many ways to celebrate. Add or find an event near you or access lots of free resources, including downloadable bookmarks, posters and more, on the Citizen Science Day page.

The signature project this year is the Stall Catchers Megathon, an online game you can play from anywhere (with internet access) to help Cornell scientists better understand how stalled bloood flow contributes to Alzheimer’s disease. By reducing stalls in m …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: citizen science day
MORE ABOUT: Megathon

The Crux

The Real Story Behind Game of Thrones’ Dragonglass

By Gemma Tarlach | April 12, 2019 11:37 am

[This is a sneak preview of our June issue. Subscribe here to get access to many more great stories from Discover]

Shiny and sharp, obsidian is enjoying a bit of a pop culture moment. It plays a central role in HBO’s hit fantasy series Game of Thrones, now wrapping its final season. Called dragonglass on the show, obsidian is one of only two substances that can cut down White Walkers, malevolent otherworldly warriors.

In the real world, the volcanic glass reveals the human story in a …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: archaeology


The latest bomb cyclone swept dust from Mexico and Arizona all the way north to Minnesota

By Tom Yulsman | April 12, 2019 9:13 am

As the latest monster spring storm spun up over the U.S. Four Corners region on April 10, high winds drove huge amounts of dust all the way north to the Upper Midwest, where it fell as dirty snow.

You can see the low-pressure center of the cyclone spinning counter-clockwise in the animation above of GOES-16 weather satellite images. Below it, watch for the gargantuan plumes of khaki-colored dust being swept up and driven to the northeast.

Also check out the lighter, sand-colored patch …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Extreme Weather, select, Top Posts, Weather
m87 black hole jet

The Crux

What The Event Horizon Telescope Reveals About Galaxy M87

By Jake Parks | April 10, 2019 10:00 am

A massive international collaboration of researchers has released the first-ever direct image of the hellish environment surrounding a supermassive black hole. As part of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project, the team used a global array of telescopes to probe the fiery disk of material swirling around the gargantuan black hole at the center of the galaxy M87.

The results confirm that the hot gas swirling around a black hole is traveling at nearly the speed of light, creating a chaot …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Top Posts

The Crux

Event Horizon Telescope Releases Humanity's First Ever Black Hole Image

By Korey Haynes | April 10, 2019 8:30 am

On Wednesday, astronomers revealed the first image ever taken of a black hole, bringing a dramatic conclusion to a decades-long effort. The iconic image offers humanity its first glimpse at the gas and debris that swirl around its event horizon, the point beyond which material disappears forever. A favorite object of science fiction has finally been made real on screen.

Their target was a nearby galaxy dubbed M87 and its supermassive black hole, which packs the mass of six and half billio …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: black holes, cosmology

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