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Out There

Scientists Clash with Corporations in a Battle for the Soul of Mars

By Corey S. Powell | November 13, 2018 9:29 am

Mars the planet is a unique world: a little like Earth, a little like the Moon, but entirely a world unto itself. Mars the television show is similarly one of a kind, an unusual amalgam of scripted science fiction and serious science documentary. The fictional part of the story begins in 2033, when the spacecraft Daedalus lands on the Red Planet to establish the first human outpost there. But as so often happens in space exploration, things don’t go exactly as planned…

Season 1 of Mars  …

The Crux

The Anthropic Principle: Are the Laws of the Universe Fine-Tuned for Life?

By Korey Haynes | November 12, 2018 1:00 pm

Humans have often looked at the night sky and wondered if there’s anyone else out there. But stare into that darkness long enough, and many wonder instead: how did we get here? What were the odds, in a universe so enormous and chaotic, that humans should have come to exist at all? Is life, let alone intelligent life, such a wildly improbable occurrence that we’re the only ones here? Or are we an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics?

Life exists on Earth (assuming we’re not livin …

MORE ABOUT: cosmology

The Crux

In the Face of Climate Change, These Sea Lions Are Getting Smart

By Stephanie Stone | November 12, 2018 12:00 pm

The water churns in a chaotic flurry of fins and flippers. Hungry onlookers hover, swoop, and scurry, hoping to get in on at least the final stages of the action. There are deep growls, sprays of blood, and flashes of iridescent blue and yellow scales against black volcanic rock. It’s a scene so wild and unprecedented that when local fishermen first started reporting it a few years ago, their accounts might have been dismissed as unbelievable. But this is the Galápagos, a place where rema …

MORE ABOUT: animals

Citizen Science Salon

Five ways to engage in science near you…outside.

By lshell | November 11, 2018 9:00 am

SciStarter offers something for anyone who is curious or concerned about the natural world.

In this edition, we highlight Fall projects the Girl Scouts are doing all across the nation. But anyone can participate in these projects!

Girl Scouts USA and SciStarter have joined forces on the “Think Like a Citizen Scientist Journey” featuring a handful of curated projects (some are listed below) aligned with the Outdoor STEM badges. Find dozens of other Girl Scout-approved citizen sci …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Classroom, Education, News


Stunning satellite images and animations offer a sobering perspective on California's raging infernos

By Tom Yulsman | November 10, 2018 2:17 pm

In all the many years that I’ve covered wildfire, I don’t believe I’ve encountered anything like what we’ve seen with the Camp Fire blazing in California’s northern Sierra Nevada mountains. What really shocked me was the speed with which this cataclysmic inferno progressed to become what appears to be the most destructive in state history.

In a flash, an estimated 6,713 structures  were destroyed in the town of Paradise. “It’s phenomenal how fast the fire spread,” said Scott McLean,  …

Festival Logo

Citizen Science Salon

How-To Festival Brings Makers and Citizen Science Together

By Guest | November 8, 2018 5:42 pm

On a beautiful Fall, Saturday morning in Brunswick, Maine (a small mid-coast town known for Bowdoin College), the Curtis Memorial Library held its annual How-To Festival, which brings together local businesses, organizations, and individuals. Attendees shared their skills and knowledge of doing all things under the sun, ranging from activities that require highly specialized skills to those anyone can do, anywhere.

This year, participating library staff coordinators highlighted …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Events

The Crux

Alien Space Rock 'Oumuamua Just Keeps Getting Weirder

By Alison Klesman | November 8, 2018 5:02 pm

On October 19, 2017, astronomers first saw an object from another solar system traveling through our own. Zipping into our solar system from above, the interloper, now known as 1I/2017 U1 (‘Oumuamua), swung around the Sun and shot away again, never to return once it leaves our neck of the woods for interstellar space once more.

What have we learned about this mysterious visitor?

‘Oumuamua’s Path

Astronomers were able to record data on ‘Oumuamua (which means “scout” or  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Top Posts
A gloved hand holds up a circular slice from an ice core against a dark sky.

The Crux

The 19th-Century Antarctic Air Molecules That Could Change Climate Models

By Anna Groves | November 7, 2018 4:16 pm

“Don’t forget to write!”

Friends and loved ones bid adieu to members of the latest research team to begin the long trek to Antarctica this weekend.

The goal of this latest expedition, which is scheduled to return mid-February, is to see whether concentrations of an atmospheric molecule called hydroxyl, or OH, has changed over time since the industrial revolution. The answer will greatly affect climate models: OH is responsible for degrading molecules like methane, one of our most …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Top Posts

The Crux

Nemi Ships: How Caligula's Floating Pleasure Palaces Were Found and Lost Again

By Paul Cooper | November 7, 2018 2:00 pm

For centuries, the medieval fishermen who sailed in the placid waters of Lake Nemi, 19 miles south of Rome, knew a secret. It was said that the rotting timbers of a gigantic ancient shipwreck lurked below the water’s quiet surface. But the lake was tiny, with an area of only 0.6 square miles. And with no other body of water connected to it, what could a vessel of that size be doing there? Still, the stories about the gigantic ship persisted.

They couldn’t have known then, but at the bot …

MORE ABOUT: archaeology

The Crux

Sticky Science: Evolution of Spiderwebs

By Lindzi Wessel | November 6, 2018 3:27 pm

It may seem silly to fear a little spider — but the predator’s appearances in horror movies make more sense when you consider the precision, skill and creativity it employs to target its prey. Spiders’ venom-injecting fangs and the pointy claws tipping their segmented legs are menacing enough, but their innovative use of silk to ensnare victims may be the biggest reason to be grateful they are small.

“They’re absolute masters of using silk,” says Paul Selden, an arachnologist  …

MORE ABOUT: animals, evolution

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