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Climate scientists brace themselves for a Trump-led witch-hunt

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 12:00:00 +0000

Trump can now target scientists he doesn't like using archaic laws. Here's how they can fight back

Intergalactic collision birthed a sparkling ring of young stars

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 17:23:00 +0000

The Large Magellanic Cloud is encircled by bright young stars that are likely to have formed after another galaxy powered past, compressing gas

Spitting archerfish shoot at prey above and beneath the water

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 16:44:00 +0000

The aquatic sharpshooters are famous for blasting powerful jets at insects above the surface – now experiments show they targetunderwater prey, too

We mustn’t let a superpower turn its back on rationality

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 15:00:00 +0000

Protesting the incoming Trump administration’s anti-science agenda may not be easy – but it’s vital not just for the US, but the world  

Real-life psychopaths actually have below-average intelligence

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 14:46:00 +0000

They may be manipulative, dishonest and callous, but the typical psychopath is no Hannibal Lecter. In fact, they tend to get lower scores on intelligence tests

How Trump’s erratic nuclear posture could spark a new arms race

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 14:00:00 +0000

The red “button” might not be safe under Trump's finger – but the new presidency brings some strange and surprising silver linings

Robot skin senses warm bodies like a snake locating nearby prey

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 13:00:00 +0000

A heat-sensing membrane could be applied to robots like a Westworld-style “skin dip” and give them the ability to detect human bodies from a distance

Women’s access to birth control and abortion fading under Trump

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 12:15:00 +0000

There are ways for women to take back their reproductive rights - but they might have to go to Mexico

Smart buildings predict when critical systems are about to fail

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 10:59:00 +0000

Start-ups use sensors and machine learning to do “predictive maintenance”, spotting faults in building systems like heating and air con before they crash

Recycled eggshells can be used for next-gen data storage

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 10:28:00 +0000

A nano-powder made from eggshells has been turned into a device using ReRAM, a type of memory that could offer fast, efficient computer data storage

How to protest against Trump in his expanded surveillance state

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 10:10:00 +0000

Trump plans to follow the UK's lead in extending domestic snooping powers. From Tor's hidden dangers to the right secure chat apps, here’s how to stay under the radar

Cold case: The unsolved mystery of what lit Kepler’s supernova

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 22:03:00 +0000

In 1604, the last Milky Way supernova recorded by naked-eye observers brightened the night sky. Despite 400 years of study, we still don't know what lit the fuse

Complex life may have had a false start 2.3 billion years ago

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 21:00:00 +0000

High levels of oceanic oxygen could have allowed advanced, animal-like life to develop for the first time – only to be wiped out again as oxygen vanished

Global sea ice is at lowest level ever recorded

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 20:01:00 +0000

The area of ocean covered by floating ice is at its lowest since the satellite era began, and probably the lowest it has been for thousands of years

Curiosity finds Mars rock that may be a meteorite made from iron

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 19:00:00 +0000

Last week, NASA’s Curiosity rover took a picture that appears to show a new iron-nickel meteorite on Mars, one of only eight that have been discovered by rovers there so far

Abortion rate halves if women have to go extra 100 miles

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 16:00:00 +0000

A law that closed many abortion clinics in Texas has led to a drop in the rate of abortions. On average, the nearest clinic is now 80 kilometres further away

Foxes may confuse predators by rubbing themselves in puma scent

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 14:25:00 +0000

Gray foxes in the mountains of California rub in the scent of pumas, possibly to absorb their smell and confuse predators to give themselves a chance to run

Brainwaves could act as your password – but not if you’re drunk

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 11:33:00 +0000

EEG authentication is touted as a potential biometric alternative to passwords, but a test involving shots of whisky suggests it won’t work if you’re tipsy

Seals hunt down hidden fish by sensing their breath in the sand

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 23:00:00 +0000

The only way for flatfish hidden under the sand on the sea floor to avoid harbour seal predators might be to hold their breath

Many more people could still die from mad cow disease in the UK

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 22:00:00 +0000

A man who has died of vCJD has shown that the disease can affect a second genetic subtype of people. It’s likely these people take longer to develop symptoms

Majority of primate species may vanish in next 25 to 50 years

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 19:00:00 +0000

The latest review of primate survival prospects shows that habitat loss from farming and human expansion is putting our closest evolutionary relatives at risk

Stretchy robotic suit reduces energy used to walk by 23 per cent

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 19:00:00 +0000

A lightweight textile exoskeleton that assists the leg muscles could be a boon for people who find it difficult to get around

First evidence of dwarf galaxy merger boosts two cosmic theories

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 18:00:00 +0000

Astronomers have found dwarf galaxies that seem about to merge, backing ideas about how large galaxies form and the scattered nature of dark matter

Mysterious fairy circles in Namibian desert explained at last

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 18:00:00 +0000

Patterns in desert vegetation have been puzzling ecologists for years, but now it seems to have been finally cracked: both water and termites are at play

US army wants to fire swarm of weaponised drones from a missile

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 17:34:00 +0000

A swarm of drones equipped with munitions could locate and attack targets after being released from a missile mid-flight, according to an army proposal

2016 confirmed as the hottest year on record

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 16:11:00 +0000

The global average temperature in 2016 was 1.1°C higher than pre-industrial levels and about 0.07°C higher than the previous record set in 2015

Flawed hunt for flight MH370 shows need for new tracking system

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 12:55:00 +0000

The troubled search for the Malaysian airliner that vanished in 2014 highlights the need for better technology and coordination, says Paul Marks

First baby born using 3-parent technique to treat infertility

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 11:54:00 +0000

These are the first photos of a girl born in Kiev who was made using a mitochondrial replacement technique to get around her mother’s infertility problems

Female shark learns to reproduce without males after years alone

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 21:00:00 +0000

Some fish and reptiles can reproduce asexually, but a shark in an Australian aquarium is a rare case of this in an animal that once had a mate

Woman dies from infection resistant to all available antibiotics

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 19:30:00 +0000

Incurable bacterial infections are on the rise worldwide, but 90 per cent of multi-resistant infections in the US can still be beaten by at least one drug

Smartwatches know you’re getting a cold days before you feel ill

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 18:00:00 +0000

After sensors alerted a researcher to Lyme disease symptoms he was unaware he had, his team have shown that smartwatches can tell if a wearer is getting ill

In an era of nationalism the net needs its freethinking champion

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 16:35:00 +0000

With a rise in isolationist politics and totalitarianism, we must back the body that has quietly defended internet freedom for 10 years, says Carl Miller

Electronic gene control could let us plug bacteria into devices

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 16:00:00 +0000

Hooking up custom-made microbes to electronics could have a host of applications in medicine and industry, such as smarter drugs and better health apps

Calorie restriction diet extends life of monkeys by years

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 16:00:00 +0000

Macaques on permanent diets live significantly longer – the equivalent of nine years in people. But is the detailed meal planning and loss of libido worth it?

Antelope revived in Sahara years after going extinct in the wild

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 11:44:00 +0000

Scimitar-horned oryx were hunted to extinction in the 1990s, but are now returning to the wild, thanks to breeding in captivity and reintroduction efforts in Chad

Don’t judge drug funding on political grounds

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000

A cash-starved health service like the NHS has to make tough decisions on drug funding – but the “worthiness” of patients shouldn’t be a factor

Largest ever shark was doomed by its taste for dwarf whales

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 19:00:00 +0000

The 16-metre-long megalodon may have fed on small marine mammals, and when they went extinct, so did the sharks

Antibody can protect brains from the ageing effects of old blood

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 17:30:00 +0000

Old blood can prompt ageing and inflammation. But an antibody that blocks a protein associated with ageing called VCAM1 - seems to protect mice from damage

We should embrace our ability to harness plant genes

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 10:00:00 +0000

A spray that kills crop pests by switching off genes without changing them offers the chance to reach a consensus on genetic modification. It must not be squandered

Taxi races show black cabs beat Uber on speed but not cost

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000

Racing Ubers and black cabs between London destinations is helping researchers develop a journey comparison app that acts like a "Skyscanner for taxis"

Gadget boom sees e-waste in Asia spike 63 per cent in 5 years

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 05:15:00 +0000

A boom in gadgets and a growing middle class has contributed to a spike in e-waste in East and South-East Asia, raising environmental concerns

Carbon seen bonding with six other atoms for the first time

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 21:01:00 +0000

A pyramid-shaped carbon molecule breaks one of the most basic lessons of chemistry textbooks – bonding with six other atoms instead of the typical four

Mini fire extinguishers inside lithium batteries may stop blazes

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 19:00:00 +0000

A lithium-ion battery with its own mini fire extinguisher that releases its contents if it gets too hot could stop phones and laptops bursting into flames

Harvester ants farm by planting seeds to eat once they germinate

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 17:22:00 +0000

The ants’ unusual trick lets them snack on seeds that are too big from them to crack. They just let the seeds crack themselves

Binary stars shred up and shove off their newborn planets

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 16:48:00 +0000

There are more pairs of stars than solo stars in our galaxy, but fewer pairs host planets. Now we have an idea why: they rip them to shreds

Concussed athletes more likely to injure their legs months later

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 15:17:00 +0000

After a head blow, athletes are at greater risk of knee ligament tears and ankle sprains. A study of college sportsmen suggests looser legs may be to blame

Poker AI competes to beat top players in no-limit game

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 14:55:00 +0000

Artificial intelligence could be close to conquering poker, as one system takes on four top players, while another has already beaten humans, it is claimed

Press regulators need to act when scientific facts are denied

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 11:50:00 +0000

Journalists do not deserve the backing of press regulators when they deny facts such as those on anthropogenic climate change, says Phillip Williamson

First ever video of an elusive new ruby seadragon filmed in wild

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 01:00:00 +0000

The rare and unusual spiny fish, recognised as a new species in 2015, was previously only known from four museum specimens

No sign of seasonal dark matter after four years of searching

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 19:04:00 +0000

The XENON100 experiment just checked up on a controversial claim that dark matter comes and goes with the seasons - and found nothing

Molecules tied into beautiful ‘octofoil’ knot for first time

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 19:00:00 +0000

The most complex molecular knot ever tied is just 20 nanometres long, and might be used to make innovative new materials

Mice turn into killers when brain circuit is triggered by laser

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 17:00:00 +0000

Two sets of neurons control whether a mouse will pounce to kill. Using a technique called optogenetics, researchers can turn this behaviour on and off

Army of 350,000 Star Wars bots found lurking on Twitter

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 13:22:00 +0000

Star Wars Twitter botnet may span more than 350,000 accounts – and no one knows why it exists

UK urged to push ahead with world-first tidal lagoon power plant

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 11:51:00 +0000

An independent review commissioned by the UK government is expected to back the mega-scheme to harness energy from tides

Fat shaming is everywhere but gets society precisely nowhere

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 11:21:00 +0000

Yet more evidence that poverty is a key driver of obesity makes the growing use of fat shaming to try to change behaviour look repulsive, says Anthony Warner

Baboons recorded making key sounds found in human speech

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 19:00:00 +0000

A claim that baboons are capable of five vowel-like sounds could mean key features of spoken language emerged with the common ancestor of monkey and humans

Preventing Big Cannabis: How to nip marijuana lobby in the bud

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 18:00:00 +0000

A powerful lobby could be an unintended consequence of legalising the drug. Could Canada's regulatory approach ensure public health comes before profit?

Squeezed light cools tiny drum to coldest temperature ever

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 18:00:00 +0000

A special trick with lasers helped lower a nano-sized membrane to below the "quantum limit" – colder than was thought possible

Bird-loving vampire bats develop taste for human blood

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 17:47:00 +0000

Bats in Brazil exclusively feed on bird blood, but new arrivals in their territory are now on the menu – they have been caught feasting on human blood

Cyprus reunification may harm unique wildlife thriving on border

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 16:11:00 +0000

The buffer zone between Greek and Turkish sides of the Mediterranean island has become a wildlife haven — but it could vanish if the two get reunited

Space travel's mental health toll could endanger long missions

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 16:00:00 +0000

A review of NASA research highlights the risk that prolonged social isolation poses to long-distance space missions, as well as other dangers like radiation

Thousands of birds to be culled in France to stop bird flu

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 15:00:00 +0000

The H5N8 strain is killing many wild birds, including ducks, swans, plus endangered species like white-tailed eagles, prompting large culls at poultry farms

This is why you can’t help babbling to your dog like it’s a baby

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 14:53:00 +0000

Competing theories for the use of baby talk on dogs are being untangled and it looks like it's got less to do with cute faces than you think, says Clive Wynne

Home robot to nudge older people to stay social and active

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 14:47:00 +0000

A home robot called ElliQ is designed to connect older people to online services and proactively pipe up with activity suggestions

Extinct giant goose used its wings to fight rather than fly

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 00:01:00 +0000

Garganornis ballmanni, which lived on a Mediterranean island, was around 1.5 metres tall and had wing adaptations seen in birds that fight over territory

Wild monkey filmed mounting deer and trying to have sex with it

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 15:15:00 +0000

The unusual inter-species sex may be down to a lack of females pushing Japanese macaques to search for pleasure elsewhere – on the backs of furry Sika deer

Norway is first country to turn off FM radio and go digital-only

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 11:56:00 +0000

From this week, Norway will start switching off its national FM network, forcing people to switch to digital audio broadcasting (DAB) or miss out

Mini-brains made from teeth help reveal what makes us sociable

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 11:17:00 +0000

Tiny balls of brain tissue made from donated stem cells from children with autism or a condition that makes them hyper-sociable show intriguing differences

Why Uber’s human drivers aren’t out of a job just yet

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 10:00:00 +0000

Uber is racing to make autonomous cabs a reality, but public confidence about safety is stuck in the slow lane, says Uber driver Daniel Matthews

Nissan uses NASA rover tech to remotely oversee autonomous car

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 17:35:00 +0000

Car-maker Nissan demonstrates an autonomous driving system developed with NASA that calls on human teleoperators to help when unexpected situations arise

Why mums and babies prefer to keep to one side of each other

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 16:09:00 +0000

Mothers prefer to hold children on the left, and animal young prefer to approach their mother from one side, too. Asymmetry in the brain may explain why

Gene-silencing spray lets us modify plants without changing DNA

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 16:00:00 +0000

A single application keeps working for nearly a month, which could allow us to modify plants without actually altering their DNA

‘Alien megastructure’ signal may be due to star eating a planet

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 15:55:00 +0000

Tabby’s star’s odd blinking and fading has been put down to alien signals and swarms of comets, but devouring a planet could explain everything

The trunk trick that lets elephants pick up almost anything

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 14:51:00 +0000

Kelly the elephant has shown how trunks can grip and lift anything from fine granules to 350-kilogram logs – it’s all in the kink

Miniature brain and skull found inside 16-year-old girl’s ovary

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 14:30:00 +0000

A tumour removed from a girl in Japan contained a thin plate of bone covering a brain-like structure capable of sending electric impulses between cells

Massive drop in London HIV rates may be due to internet drugs

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 13:30:00 +0000

New HIV infections in gay men have dropped by around 40 per cent at some clinics, which could be thanks to people buying PrEP drugs from abroad via websites

Zapping the brain really does seem to improve depression

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 12:38:00 +0000

Can stimulating the brain with electricity really make you better? Many are sceptical, but an analysis now suggests it can help with depression and addiction

Stephen Hawking says he has a way to escape from a black hole

Sun, 08 Jan 2017 12:00:00 +0000

Researchers have long struggled to resolve what happens to information when it falls inside a black hole, but the famous physicist says he has a solution

Ants craft tiny sponges to dip into honey and carry it home

Sat, 07 Jan 2017 15:00:00 +0000

Non-expandable stomachs mean these ants need to use absorbent tools to transport tasty liquids to their nests – and they figure out the best objects for the job

US Congress just made it easier to ditch science for politics

Fri, 06 Jan 2017 22:01:00 +0000

Two new bills could undermine safety and other regulations by giving politicians license to ignore evidence that runs counter to their ideas

Milky Way’s core could be spewing out planet-sized star chunks

Fri, 06 Jan 2017 20:15:00 +0000

The supermassive black hole at the galaxy's heart can stretch and shred stars that approach – then fling the shreds away as spheres as small as Neptune

Physicists can’t agree on what the quantum world looks like

Fri, 06 Jan 2017 18:07:00 +0000

A survey of 149 scientists shows that there’s a split over which interpretation is correct – and many don’t even care

Oxytocin surge before a fight helps chimps bond with their group

Fri, 06 Jan 2017 15:33:00 +0000

A spike in the “cuddle hormone” helps chimp comrades bond for war with rival groups, and something similar seems to happen in humans

Your walk could be a password that connects devices on your body

Fri, 06 Jan 2017 14:00:00 +0000

Sensors on different parts of the body can pick up your "gait fingerprint", letting wearable devices securely connect with each other

London road has broken annual legal pollution limits already

Fri, 06 Jan 2017 13:39:00 +0000

Brixton Road, Lambeth is the first air quality monitoring site to see levels of nitrogen dioxide exceed the annual hourly limits less than a week into 2017

Transistor stretchier than skin for ultra-flexible wearable tech

Fri, 06 Jan 2017 11:35:00 +0000

A flexible transistor can stretch to twice its length without losing its conductive properties and could be used in electronic tattoo-style wearable sensors

Twitter is being used in classes to help students learn Arabic

Fri, 06 Jan 2017 10:59:00 +0000

An Arabic language lecturer uses Twitter as a teaching tool in his classes and finds it fills a gap for Arabic teaching resources on specialised subjects

Tiny nanoelectrodes record brain’s activity without damaging it

Fri, 06 Jan 2017 07:00:00 +0000

Electrodes help treat epilepsy and Parkinson's disease, but can damage the brain and slowly stop working. Nanotube electrodes are safer and should last longer

Woman hit by lightning loses synaesthesia – but then it returns

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 22:00:00 +0000

Medication, meningitis and being struck by lightning have all affected one woman’s synaesthesia, but remarkably it soon returned in exactly the same form

Sustainable tuna fishing is bad for climate – here’s why

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 21:00:00 +0000

Fishing methods meant to keep marine ecosystems healthy may unintentionally aggravate climate change

Brain’s face recognition area grows much bigger as we get older

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 19:00:00 +0000

As we enter adulthood, one part of our brain significantly expands. Occurring later than most brain growth, the change may help us keep track of who we meet

False memory helps us think but we can’t do it when we’re tired

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 18:00:00 +0000

Our brains generalise information, linking and associating related concepts. The process can help us improvise in exams – but only if we’ve had enough sleep

Drones inspired by insects could keep flying even when damaged

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 16:00:00 +0000

Fruit flies keep flying even after losing a wing. Drone designers can use their secrets to keep flying robots airborne in tough conditions

Racing robot cars will help AI learn to adapt to the real world

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 14:00:00 +0000

Robotic games arena challenges AIs to competitions using remote-controlled cars and drones. To win, they'll need to adapt to the unknown

China’s ivory ban is great, now for shark fins and tiger bone

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 13:27:00 +0000

Beijing's ban on ivory is very welcome and could save the African elephant, but it must do the same for rhinos, pangolins and more, says Richard Schiffman

Mars should have loads more water – so where has it all gone?

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 10:00:00 +0000

We have either misunderstood what its early years were like – or it is hiding vast amounts of water beneath its surface

Computer uses facial cues to spot if people have autism

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 07:00:00 +0000

Learning how people’s responses to stories vary has enabled a program to tell whether people have autism or ADHD

Living near a highway may increase dementia risk by 7 per cent

Wed, 04 Jan 2017 23:30:00 +0000

Living within 50 metres of a busy road like a motorway or highway is linked to higher risk of developing dementia. Air pollution may partly be to blame

Brain shrinks less in older people who eat Mediterranean diet

Wed, 04 Jan 2017 21:00:00 +0000

As we age, our brains shrink. A study of 401 people in their 70s suggests that a diet high in vegetables and olive oil is linked to slightly less shrinkage

Metal asteroid and Trojans selected for next NASA missions

Wed, 04 Jan 2017 19:50:00 +0000

The US space agency will send probes to metallic asteroid Psyche and the mysterious Trojans that flank Jupiter in the 2020s