Darkness Will Reveal the Sun’s Mysterious Corona

By Nathaniel Scharping | August 18, 2017 1:26 pm
An image of the sun's corona taken during a 2008 solar eclipse in Mongolia. (Credit: Miloslav Druckmüller (Brno U. of Tech.), Martin Dietzel, Peter Aniol, Vojtech Rušin)

An image of the sun’s corona taken during a 2008 solar eclipse in Mongolia. (Credit: Miloslav Druckmüller (Brno U. of Tech.), Martin Dietzel, Peter Aniol, Vojtech Rušin)

When the moon slides in front of the sun Monday, millions of viewers will catch a glimpse of the sun’s corona, which will appear as a hazy glow outlining the solid shadow in front of our star.

Scientists will be watching closely as well, because eclipses are one of the few times they can easily gather data on a region of the sun that is still poorly understood. The corona is the atmosphere of our sun, a swirl of charged particles that extends millions of miles into space, swept into filamentous loops and coils by the sun’s powerful magnetic field. It’s spread thin, which is why we can’t normally see it, but the corona is hot, reaching millions of degrees kelvin at times, far more intense than the surface of the sun. Read More

MORE ABOUT: physics, stargazing, stars

What Time Is the Total Solar Eclipse?

By Carl Engelking | August 18, 2017 12:41 pm


We’re now counting down the time until the Great American eclipse in hours, not days. Are you ready?

If you aren’t, don’t worry, we have you covered with the Eclipse 2017 Widget from our partners at Astronomy magazine. Powered by SkySafari 5, this interactive widget well let you know exactly when the show will begin, and when you’ll reach maximum eclipse in your area. If you click “view” on the time readouts in the event column, you can also get a rough preview of what you can expect to see in the sky. The Eclipse 2017 Widget is also available in Eclipse Safari, a free app for iOS and Android.

Also, scroll a little deeper in the page for a lot more information about the eclipse from Discover and Astronomy: what to bring, how it happens, 25 things to know about the eclipse and more!

Mind Melt

By Sarah Scoles

mind-melt-aEclipses are more than a scientific wonder, they’re a deeply human event. For millennia, the moon has periodically blotted out the sun, but we’ve only recently figured out how it all works. Before scientists studied this cosmic event, the wonder and fear experienced by generations led to a menagerie of myths. Learn more about the deep hold eclipses have on the human psyche.

25 Things to You Should Know About the Eclipse

By Michael E. Bakich

25-factsWhen do solar eclipses occur? How often do they occur? How long is totality? Astronomy editor Michael Bakich is a fount of information about the cosmos, and he’s narrowed down all the important details you should know before viewing the show.

Proving Einstein

By Terena Bell

eddingtonOn Aug. 21, sky-gazers from around the world will converge in the United States to view the total solar eclipse. For one retired physicist, Don Bruns, Monday provides the perfect opportunity to conduct an old-school test of general relativity tracing back to 1919. Bruns is going to give it another attempt with high-tech equipment, but is the technology too good?

What To Bring

By Michael E. Bakich

gogglesHere’s an easy checklist of some of the common and more unusual items you’ll want to bring with you on eclipse day if you are traveling to see it. One commonly overlooked item: toilet paper. As Michael explains, “Let’s see, millions of people on the road, rest stops few and far between . . . you fill in the details.”


Solar Eclipse Geometry

By Michael E. Bakich

eclipsemapIf you’re in the path of totality, enjoy the show. But know what’s going on up their in the sky could make the experience all the more satisfying. Here’s a closer look at the coordinated dance between the sun, the moon and Earth.

Darkness Is Coming

By Tyler Nordgren


seize-the-momentMillions of Americans will watch the sun disappear on Monday. Tyler Nordgren puts the historic event in perspective, and adds a few do’s and don’ts.

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

Roman Pipes Delivered Water — And Toxic Antimony

By Nathaniel Scharping | August 17, 2017 2:11 pm
Antimony. (Credit: Bostock/Shutterstock)

Antimony. (Credit: Bostock/Shutterstock)

The elaborate system of pipes that carried water to Roman households was an engineering marvel—for its time. Unfortunately, their sophisticated water utility may have been poisoning everyone.

An analysis of a pipe fragment from Pompeii revealed the presence of high levels of antimony, an element that can cause vomiting, diarrhea and even organ damage at high enough concentrations. It was probably included to harden the soft lead pipes, which were a luxury for Roman citizens at the time, delivering water directly to households. For some citizens, that likely came at a cost. Read More

Yes, Scotch Whiskey Is Better With a Splash of Water

By Carl Engelking | August 17, 2017 2:11 pm

(Credit: Shutterstock)

A true Scotch drinker doesn’t pour an aged Macallan in order to, as less refined revelers might say, “get the party started.” Quite the contrary, the seasoned aficionado attends to certain norms and customs before imbibing, not unlike a traditional tea ceremony, in a nod to enlightenment, restraint and discernment—the finer things.

The experts recommend pouring Scotch into a tulip-shaped glass to swirl the matured flavors. Sip, but never gulp, as that would be heresy to the history that’s sloshing around in your cup. And it is generally considered poor form to add ice; instead it’s better to add a splash of water to enhance the overall experience. Read More

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

Ulcer-fighting Robots Swim Through Stomachs to Deliver a Cure

By Nathaniel Scharping | August 16, 2017 4:18 pm
(Credit: unoL/Shutterstock)

(Credit: unoL/Shutterstock)

Tiny robots powered by bubbles have successfully treated an infection in mice.

The achievement is another step forward in a field that has long shown promise, and is only now beginning to deliver. The therapeutic robots in this case were tiny spheres of magnesium and titanium coated with an antibacterial agent and about the width of a human hair. They were released into the stomach, where they swam around and delivered a drug to the target before dissolving. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts

Mount Marilyn: A Name That Will Stick…Finally

By Eric Betz | August 16, 2017 4:10 pm

Apollo 10 photograph taken from the Lunar Module “Snoopy” showing the Command Module “Charlie Brown” with Mt. Marilyn in the background (north is to the left, scene is 80 km wide). (Credit: LROC)

In 1968, Jim Lovell became the first human to pilot a spacecraft — Apollo 8 — around another world. And two years later, his Apollo 13 heroics earned him an eternal place in spaceflight history. But those feats also left Lovell as the only person to visit the moon twice but never walk its surface.

In July, Lovell got his chance to leave a lasting mark on our satellite. Explorers have always named newly discovered landmarks. But things didn’t work out that way for Apollo astronauts — at least until 2017. His wife’s name is now immortalized in Mount Marilyn, ending a years-long effort to recognize its place in lunar history. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: space exploration

Do We Manage Online and Offline Friendships the Same?

By Mark Barna | August 16, 2017 1:24 pm
(Credit: Shutterstock)

(Credit: Shutterstock)

Social media has been a boon to social science. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other platforms serve as online laboratories that reveal all kinds of stuff about the users, researchers say. The rise of these platforms has sparked a flurry of scientific papers describing people’s social network interactions.

A lot of the conclusions of the studies can engender the response, “Well, no kidding.” But offering validation for intuitive or common sense knowledge isn’t such a bad thing. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts
MORE ABOUT: psychology

Scientists Cook Up Magic Mushrooms’ Psychedelic Recipe

By Nathaniel Scharping | August 15, 2017 3:03 pm
Psychedelic mushrooms. (Credit: atomazul/Shutterstock)

Psychedelic mushrooms. (Credit: atomazul/Shutterstock)

Scientists have known about psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in “magic mushrooms,” ever since Albert Hofmann isolated it in 1958. It’s taken until now, however, for them to figure out how it’s produced.

Researchers at Friedrich Schiller University Jena in Germany sequenced the genomes of two psychedelic mushroom species and used the information to identify four key enzymes involved in the process of creating psilocybin. Knowing how the mushrooms make the compound opens the door to large-scale bioengineering of the chemical that has increasingly been shown to benefit people suffering from depression, alcoholism and other disorders. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Mind & Brain

Nearly 100 Volcanoes Discovered Beneath Antarctica’s Ice

By Nathaniel Scharping | August 14, 2017 4:37 pm
The summit of Mt. Erebus. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The summit of Mt. Erebus. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

You could say Antarctica sings a song of fire and ice.

The continent’s frigid reputation is well known, but researchers from the University of Edinburgh analyzed radar scans of the West Antarctic Rift System and found 138 volcanoes hiding under the thick ice sheet. Of those, 91 were previously unidentified, they say, and the discovery could change our understanding of how the overlaying ice layer grows and shrinks. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, top posts

In Paris, a Glimpse of Public Transportation’s Driverless Future

By Christina Reed | August 14, 2017 2:59 pm

The NAVYA. (Credit: Christina Reed)

France may be famous for its cheese and wine, but it’s also a longtime leader in driverless transit. The country boasted one of the earliest models of automatic trains in 1983. In Paris, two metro lines currently run without a conductor onboard. And the push toward driverless transportation continues in this city, with several planned upgrades before it plays host to the summer Olympics in 2024.

So it was with high expectations and a sense of history that I boarded the driverless Line 1 to the bustling business district of La Défense, just west of the Paris city limits. There, I would try out the newly installed “Navette Autonome,” an autonomous shuttle bus from French company NAVYA. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts
MORE ABOUT: transportation


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