Gravity measurements confirm subsurface ocean on Enceladus

In 2005, NASA's Cassini spacecraft sent pictures back to Earth depicting an icy Saturnian moon spewing water vapor and ice from fractures, known as "tiger stripes," in its frozen surface. It was big news that tiny Enceladus -- a mere...

Robot folds itself up and walks away

A team from Harvard's Wyss Institute, Harvard's SEAS, and MIT built an autonomous robot that starts out as a single composite sheet programmed to fold itself into a complex shape and crawl away without any human intervention.A team of engineers used little more than paper and Shrinky dinks™ -- the classic children's toy that shrinks when heated -- to build a robot that assembles itself into...

Clear skies on exo-Neptune

This is an artist's concept of the silhouette of the extrasolar planet HAT-P-11b as it passes its parent star. The planet was observed as it crossed in front of its star in order to learn more about its atmosphere.Astronomers using data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Kepler Space Telescope have discovered clear skies and steamy water vapour on a planet outside...

Gut bacteria, artificial sweeteners and glucose intolerance

This image depicts gut microbiota.Artificial sweeteners -- promoted as aids to weight loss and diabetes prevention -- could actually hasten the development of glucose intolerance and metabolic disease, and they do so in a...

Warming pushes Western US toward driest period in 1,000 years

A representation of the summer moisture in the US Central Plains and Southwest is shown. The brown line represents the variation in dryness since the year 1000; the lower the line on the graph, the drier the conditions. Colored lines to the right side of the graph represent what climate models see ahead: a trend toward dryness not seen in the previous millennium. As the authors describe it: Regional average time series of the summer season moisture balance metrics from the NADA and CMIP5models.The observational NADA PDSI series (brown) is smoothed using a 50-year loess spline to emphasize the low-frequency variability in the paleo-record. Model time series (PDSI, SM-30cm, and SM-2m) are the multimodel means averaged across the 17 CMIP5models, and the gray shaded area is the multimodel interquartile range for model PDSI.During the second half of the 21st century, the U.S. Southwest and Great Plains will face persistent drought worse than anything seen in times ancient or modern, with the drying...

NASA's Hubble observations suggest underground ocean on Jupiter's largest moon

In this artist's concept, the moon Ganymede orbits the giant planet Jupiter. NASA's Hubble Space Telescope observed aurorae on the moon generated by Ganymede's magnetic fields. A saline ocean under the moon's icy crust best explains shifting in the auroral belts measured by Hubble.NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has the best evidence yet for an underground saltwater ocean on Ganymede, Jupiter's largest moon. The subterranean ocean is thought to have more water than all...

Newly identified galactic supercluster is home to the Milky Way

A slice of the Laniakea Supercluster in the supergalactic equatorial plane -- an imaginary plane containing many of the most massive clusters in this structure. The colors represent density within this slice, with red for high densities and blue for voids -- areas with relatively little matter. Individual galaxies are shown as white dots. Velocity flow streams within the region gravitationally dominated by Laniakea are shown in white, while dark blue flow lines are away from the Laniakea local basin of attraction. The orange contour encloses the outer limits of these streams, a diameter of about 160 Mpc. This region contains the mass of about 100 million billion suns.Astronomers using the National Science Foundation's Green Bank Telescope (GBT) -- among other telescopes -- have determined that our own Milky Way galaxy is part of a newly identified ginormous...

King Richard III -- case closed after 529 years

Pictured here are Dr. Turi King and Professor Kevin Schürer from the University of Leicester.International research led by the University of Leicester published in Nature Communications reveals: Analysis of all the available evidence confirms identity of King Richard III to the...

Evolution of the Darwin's finches and their beaks

This is the large ground finch (<i>Geospiza magnirostris</i>) on Daphne Major Island. Reproduced with the permission of Princeton University Press.Darwin's finches, inhabiting the Galápagos archipelago and Cocos island, constitute an iconic model for studies of speciation and adaptive evolution. A team of scientists from Uppsala University and Princeton University...

Functioning of aged brains and muscles in mice made younger

This is Amy Wagers, Harvard Stem Cell Institute Principal Faculty Member and professor in Harvard's Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology.Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers have shown that a protein they previously demonstrated can make the failing hearts in aging mice appear more like those of young health mice,...

Study finds peanut consumption in infancy prevents peanut allergy

Introduction of peanut products into the diets of infants at high risk of developing peanut allergy was safe and led to an 81 percent reduction in the subsequent development of...

The 192 countries with a coast bordering the Atlanta, Pacific and Indian oceans, Mediterranean and Black seas produced a total of 2.5 billion metric tons of solid waste. Of that, 275 million metric tons was plastic, and an estimated 8 million metric tons of mismanaged plastic waste entered the ocean in 2010.

Oldest most complete, genetically intact human skeleton in New World

The skeletal remains of a teenage female from the late Pleistocene or last ice age found in an underwater cave in Mexico have major implications for our understanding of the...

Monster black hole discovered at cosmic dawn

This is an artist's impression of a quasar with a supermassive black hole in the distant universe.Scientists have discovered the brightest quasar in the early universe, powered by the most massive black hole yet known at that time. The international team led by astronomers from Peking...

Extinct human cousin gave Tibetans advantage at high elevation

A Chinese researcher collects a blood sample from an ethnic Tibetan man participating in the DNA study.Tibetans were able to adapt to high altitudes thanks to a gene picked up when their ancestors mated with a species of human they helped push to extinction, according to...

Lightning expected to increase by 50 percent with global warming

This graphic shows the intensity of lightning flashes averaged over the year in the lower 48 states during 2011.Today's climate models predict a 50 percent increase in lightning strikes across the United States during this century as a result of warming temperatures associated with climate change.

Epigenomics of Alzheimer's disease progression

Our susceptibility to disease depends both on the genes that we inherit from our parents and on our lifetime experiences. These two components -- nature and nurture -- seem to...

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Snakes and snake-like robots show how sidewinders conquer sandy slopes

Researchers studied sidewinder snakes to understand the unique motion they use to climb sandy slopes. Shown (l-r) are Dan Goldman of Georgia Tech, Hamid Marvi of Carnegie Mellon and Joe Mendelson of Zoo Atlanta.The amazing ability of sidewinder snakes to quickly climb sandy slopes was once something biologists only vaguely understood and roboticists only dreamed of replicating. By studying the snakes in a...

Smallest known galaxy with a supermassive black hole

This Hubble Space telescope image shows the gargantuan galaxy M60 in the center, and the ultracompact dwarf galaxy M60-UCD1 below it and to the right, and also enlarged as an inset. A new international study led by University of Utah astronomer Anil Seth and published in the journal Nature found that M60-UCD1 is the smallest known galaxy with a supermassive black hole at its center, suggesting the dwarf galaxy originally was much larger but was stripped of its outer layers by gravity from galaxy M60 over billions of years. M60's gravity also is pulling galaxy NGC4647, upper right, and the two eventually will collide. (NOTE: for a version of this photo with the galaxy names labeled, email <a href="mailto:lee.siegel@utah.edu">lee.siegel@utah.edu</a>.)A University of Utah astronomer and his colleagues discovered that an ultracompact dwarf galaxy harbors a supermassive black hole -- the smallest galaxy known to contain such a massive light-sucking...

Anthropology: Ancient skull from Galilee cave offers clues to the first modern Europeans

This image shows inside the Manot Cave in Israel's Galilee, where a 55,000-year-old skull sheds new light on modern human migration patterns.The discovery of a 55,000-year-old partial skull in Northern Israel provides new insights into the migration of modern humans out of Africa. The rare find is reported in the journal...

Wandering Jupiter accounts for our unusual solar system

Jupiter may have swept through the early solar system like a wrecking ball, destroying a first generation of inner planets before retreating into its current orbit, according to a new...

Electric eels deliver Taser-like shocks

Electric eels deliver Taser-like shocks.The electric eel -- the scaleless Amazonian fish that can deliver an electrical jolt strong enough to knock down a full-grown horse -- possesses an electroshock system uncannily similar to...

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