Latest Blog Posts


Octopuses Are Building Underwater 'Cities'

By Nathaniel Scharping | September 19, 2017 2:06 pm

Underneath the waves lies a lost city, home to untold riches and guarded jealously by the strange creatures who make their homes within its confines.

Well, the riches are all shellfish, but “Octlantis,” a newly discovered settlement inhabited by around a dozen common Sydney octopuses, does have some strange residents.
Tale of Two Cities
Octopuses were once considered solitary creatures, thought to roam the depths alone, meeting only to mate. But recent discoveries have begun to overtur …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: animals, ecology


Why Scientists Are Flying Blood Over the Desert

By Lauren Sigfusson | September 19, 2017 11:43 am

Drone delivery is sexy. We’ve seen Domino’s pizza and 7-11 Slurpees dropped by drone. And then there are drones delivering something every human needs to live: blood.

Timothy Amukele, a pathologist with Johns Hopkins University, and his team flew a drone for three hours with blood samples as its payload to see if drones offer a viable solution to transport blood over long distances in hot temperatures. It took a little ingenuity, but they once again demonstrated the usefulness of gett …



This Exoplanet Is Burning Hot and Pitch Black

By Nathaniel Scharping | September 18, 2017 2:37 pm

An exoplanet twice the size of Jupiter is hot, egg-shaped and coal-black.

Wasp-12b is a gas giant orbiting around a Sun-like star some 1,400 light-years away. It makes a complete orbit around its sun in just 24 hours because it lies so close to its star, and the proximity pushes the temperature to around 4,700 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s so hot that molecules there are broken down into atomic hydrogen and helium, and the extreme conditions give it an albedo of just .064, making the planet’ …

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

Citizen Science Salon

Sweet Citizen Science for National Honey Month

By acrall | September 18, 2017 1:35 pm

Johanna James-Heinz

“For bees the flower is the fountain of life. For flowers, the bee is the messenger of love.”

-Kahlil Gibran

In honor of National Honey Month we’ve highlighted a few citizen science projects you can do to help us better understand our buzzing friends the bees. From honey bees to bumble bees, there’s something for everyone.

The SciStarter Team




Scientific Papers Are Getting Less Readable

By Neuroskeptic | September 16, 2017 2:37 pm

“The readability of scientific texts is decreasing over time”, according to a new paper just out. Swedish researchers Pontus Plaven-Sigray and colleagues say that scientists today use longer and more complex words than those of the past, making their writing harder to read. But what does it mean?

Here’s the key result. This image shows text readability metrics from 709,577 abstracts, drawn from 123 biomedical journals, published in English between 1881 and 2015.

There’s been a clear  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: history, papers, science, select, Top Posts

Out There

Last Days of Cassini: An Insider's Story

By Corey S. Powell | September 16, 2017 6:15 am

The death of the Cassini spacecraft marked the end of an era–not just the end of a mission, but the end of a whole style of exploration. Cassini was a multi-billion dollar probe, a versatile scout in the style of the Voyager and Galileo probes. It bristled with instruments that allowed it to take the measure of every part of Saturn’s staggeringly complex system of moons, rings, clouds, and magnetic activity.

As Cassini’s program manager and a veteran of the mission since 1993, Earl H. Ma …

Vintage Space

Apollo's Life-Saving Q-Ball

By Amy Shira Teitel | September 15, 2017 5:15 pm

At the very top of the Saturn V stack, at the top of the Launch Escape Tower, was a small ball bored with eight holes. These holes led to the Q-ball, an unassuming instrument that played a huge role in making Saturn V launches safe for astronauts.
The Q-ball was similar to an airplane’s pitot tubes. As air flows into the pitot tubes on a plane, data on airspeed and pressure is sent to the computer’s onboard autopilot system and onto displays for the pilot. They’re common and just look li …

MORE ABOUT: Apollo, History, NASA, Saturn V, Space


Scientists Find 21 New Bird Species by Asking the Birds

By Elizabeth Preston | September 15, 2017 1:59 pm

Same-or-different is the concept behind the most basic toddler games. We encourage kids to put the square block in the square hole, find two cards that match, place the cow in the cow-shaped puzzle slot. But in nature, the cow-shaped slots are harder to see. Deciding whether two animals are the same or different species frequently causes debates among scientists. In Central and South America, researchers tried to find the differences between many pairs of closely related birds by simply as …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: birds, evolution, language, singing, top posts
MORE ABOUT: Animals, Evolution

The Crux

Cassini's Bittersweet Symphony

By Shannon Stirone | September 15, 2017 12:27 pm

The Cassini team members filled the chairs of mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. As a long-time astronomy journalist, I was invited to witness the end of an era.

At 4:55 a.m. PST, Cassini’s 13-year mission came to a bittersweet end when we lost signal from the spacecraft as it pierced through the cloud tops at Saturn. We’ve gathered in a lecture hall lined with spacecraft models, Voyager, Juno and of course, Cassini.

Few people were witho …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: space exploration

Dead Things

Breaking: 5.7 Million-Year-Old "Hominin Footprints" In Jeopardy

By Gemma Tarlach | September 15, 2017 10:44 am

12:02 p.m.: “In the context of the field, it’s the equivalent of blowing up the Sphinx in Egypt. It’s a big deal,” says Bournemouth University’s Matthew Bennett, confirming that several of the footprints he and colleagues described in a paper published in August as belonging to an early hominin have been destroyed or stolen. But Bennett adds: “At the same time, no scientific data has been lost.”

That’s because the detailed, sophisticated analysis carried out on the 5.7-million-year-ol …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

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