Ever since Antoni van Leeuwenhoek first observed “animalcules” through a microscope in the late 1600s, we’ve been finding bacteria all over. They’ve been discovered in deep sea vents, on human skin, and deep in Antarctic ice. There are even bacteria all the way up in the clouds. Strange and wonderful, no?
If much of the US was transfixed by the sight on Monday of two of America’s top intelligence officials sitting in Congress, addressing allegations of Russian meddling in the US elections, the Kremlin claimed it had better things to do.
“We have many concerns in the Kremlin and following that [debate] isn’t one of them,” said presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
“New information we’re not hearing and doubtfully will hear,” said Peskov, who went on to compare the hearings to a “broken record” being played ad nauseum.
The artificial sweetener acesulfame potassium (ACE) can be found in everything from chewing gum, to baked goods, to the packets of sugar substitute on restaurant tables. But researchers at the University of Alberta recently made headlines with the announcement that they’d found ACE somewhere else: in 31 swimming pools and hot tubs.
Scientists have used genetics to alter mosquito populations for several decades, to try to eliminate diseases such as malaria and more recently Zika. But these efforts — when they've worked at all — have only partially addressed the problem.
Here’s an unexpected story: Scientists are working on a drug to stimulate ear hair growth.
In this case, the ear hairs in question are actually tiny, sensory hair cells in our cochlea. We have about 15,000 of them in each ear, and they’re crucial to helping us detect sound waves. But the little cells are also very fragile.
Last month, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine released a report about the use of gene editing techniques like CRISPR on human embryos. The new report, coming from two globally respected scientific organizations, suggests the technique could be warranted in certain cases — not just in the laboratory, but in real life.
NASA was big on the internet in late February, when it announced that scientists had discovered seven Earth-sized exoplanets orbiting an ultra-cool dwarf star, 40 light-years away.
The planets are closer to their cool star than Mercury is to the sun, and scientists think they could all be temperate enough to hold liquid water — a key ingredient for life. Not surprisingly, the scientific community is abuzz about what the planets hold, water and otherwise.
If President Donald Trump has his way, the Environmental Protection Agency will be downsized quite a bit: 31 percent, with more than 50 programs eliminated, as laid out in his budget proposal released on Thursday. But penny-pinching isn’t the only tool his administration and Republican lawmakers have at their disposal, to undermine the agency.
As two environmental law experts explain, different congressional actions and executive orders can also be used to chip away at the EPA. Some already have.
Millions of rocky and metallic leftovers from the formation of the universe orbit the same sun that we do, many of them found between Mars and Jupiter in what is known as the asteroid belt. And while most of these asteroids peacefully coexist with planet Earth, some of them end up on more hostile trajectories.
It may be terrifying to think that an asteroid could collide with Earth at any moment, but some of our planet's citizens have a plan for dealing with hazardous space rocks.
Six years after the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown, officials are still seeking ways to deal with the huge amount of hazardous waste being generated at the nuclear power plant.
Tokyo-based journalist James Simms has been covering the Fukushima cleanup since shortly after the effort was crippled by a tsunami in March 2011.
He told The World that six years on, there has been some progress toward decommissioning the plant, “but many unforeseen issues may mean that the cleanup and dismantling and decontamination will take longer than previously expected.”
Every March in Austin, Texas, an explosion of technology entrepreneurs show off their latest ideas and hobnob at parties, tweeting, snapping and gramming epic stories about who they met and what they saw.
South by Southwest — referred to as SXSW — is known for the music and films that premiere here. But the weekend before the music is SXSW Interactive. It’s full of energy and deal-making.
It may look like shrink wrap, but a film recently developed by a team of researchers has a secret power: It’s incredibly sensitive to temperature.
“Just to give you a sense, it … can detect, for example, the presence of warm bodies like a rabbit, or a human body or a hand at a distance of up to a meter,” says Chiara Daraio, a professor of mechanical engineering at the California Institute of Technology and a co-author of the new study, published in Science Robotics.
The place where the first Soviet atomic bomb was dropped looks like a small natural pond.
The bumpy roads that lead to it course through stark, but picturesque, countryside. The river Irtysh, which flows down from China and on to Russia, divides this northeastern part of Kazakhstan into steppes to the south and forests to the north.
The beauty hides an ugly history.
The older people here grew up watching huge clouds mushroom in the sky overhead. Man-made earthquakes regularly shook the ground under their feet.
Imagine for a moment that we’ve colonized Mars and the asteroid belt. We mine the asteroid belt for ice and minerals and live — not always peacefully — in different factions, split up across the solar system.
It’s been just shy of 90 years since Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in his London lab, but as the World Health Organization recently cautioned, we’re already headed for a “post-antibiotic era.”
The smudged travel stamps in passports are a record of international border crossings that went smoothly or perhaps not so smoothly. The photos are freeze frames of the travelers who made those journeys. And then there are the cool, invisible security features.
These are just a few of the things that fascinate Tom Topol about passports. He's been collecting passports and investigating their history ever since he stumbled on an interesting one in Kyoto, Japan.
Sex trafficking and human slavery are certainly nothing new, but the internet has created a lawless space for predators to buy and sell people. Today, more than 150,000 escort ads are posted in the US every day, many of them for children. The human trafficking industry enslaves an estimated 27 million people worldwide.
Lithium-ion batteries power everything from our laptops to phones to electric vehicles, but they’re far from perfect. In fact, they were the culprits behind Samsung’s recent exploding Galaxy Note 7 phones.
A new wave of “ingestible electronics” is poised to transform health care from the inside out. Researchers are experimenting with sensors that can wirelessly monitor vital signs like heart rate, respiratory rate and body temperature from the squishy interior of our gastrointestinal tract.
Dateline: St. Paul Updated: 4 p.m. | Posted: 6:34 a.m.
Minnesota lawmakers are considering legislation that could spell the end for snow days.
In an attempt to curb the amount of days tacked onto the end of the school year, a House committee heard legislation that would let schools substitute snow days for home learning, or e-learning, days. Families would be notified at least two hours before school starts and students would begin their online coursework at the beginning of the school day.
Dateline: Rochester, Minn. More than 100 students in Rochester will be sent home from school on Wednesday unless they can prove they've been vaccinated or are exempt.
School officials said last week that starting March 1, students who can't provide proper immunization paperwork will be sent home. State law requires that students be immunized or be officially exempt for reasons such as health or religion.
That may be the No. 1 piece of advice activists have for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, many of whom fear possible deportation. If the authorities come knocking without a proper warrant, US residents have a right not to open the door.
Advance notice of when an immigration raid on a workplace is about to go down certainly helps, too.
Dateline: Fear that environmental data could disappear under the Trump administration has spurred hundreds of volunteer researchers, hackers and archivists around the country to start saving federal data on secure, non-government servers.
In Minneapolis, some 150 volunteers brought their laptops to the basement of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota last weekend. They worked on digging through various not-yet-archived pockets of the massive .gov system.
Dateline: Taylor Wilson astounded the science world when he built a bomb at age 10, and at age 14 became the youngest person in history to produce fusion. The young nuclear scientist is still only 22, and he believes science can potentially solve some of the most important problems of our time.
Seventeen years after its debut as a sturdy, indestructible device, on Sunday Nokia rolled out its once-popular cellphone: the Nokia 3310.
Compared to the original, it's got a much bigger screen; a larger battery; it's slimmer; and it comes with a camera attached to the back. The updated version also comes in fetching new colors: yellow and red, in addition to the standard blue.