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Swifts break record by staying aloft for 10 months at a time

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 16:00:19 +0000

Common swifts probably sleep and mate on the wing, and juvenile birds may fly even longer than adults – perhaps for two years non-stop

UK must face reality on climate impact of new Heathrow runway

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 15:57:43 +0000

We can’t pretend that emissions from aircraft are somebody else’s problem, says climate and energy expert Richard Black

Lying feels bad at first but our brains soon adapt to deceiving

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Scans reveal that as we tell more and more fibs, our brains become desensitised to lying, allowing dishonesty to snowball

Taj Mahal’s staining blamed partly on burning of household waste

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 14:00:02 +0000

Lack of domestic waste collection in parts of Agra, India, has knock-on effects for air pollution, health and the appearance of a world-famous monument

Robot learns to play with Lego by watching human teachers

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Some tasks are too hard for us to program – so we're teaching robots by having them observe us instead

Physics tweak solves five of the biggest problems in one go

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 08:00:06 +0000

Adding six particles to the standard model of particle physics explains dark matter, neutrino oscillations, baryogenesis, inflation and the strong CP problem

Invading giant geckos get stuck on a single building

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 07:00:17 +0000

Foot-fouling grime restricts interloping geckos on a small island, while native lizards curl their toes and use their claws to dash up dusty surfaces

Smart camera system checks patients’ vital signs from afar

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Software monitors heart rate, breathing and blood oxygen without a single sensor touching the body – useful for police cells as well as hospital wards

Wildlife numbers more than halve since 1970s in mass extinction

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 23:01:14 +0000

Mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles from around the world have seen 58 per cent fall in population - with the 2 per cent drop in numbers a year continuing

Our Ice Age ancestors skinned cave lions to make roofs for huts

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 18:00:59 +0000

Cave lion bones found near prehistoric huts in the La Garma cave in Spain show evidence of being skinned for fur, which the early humans seem to have used as roofs

Playing Grand Theft Auto can teach autonomous cars how to drive

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Getting computers to recognise other cars is surprisingly difficult – but super-realistic video games can help train them up

One Per Cent

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 17:00:00 +0000

The next generation of Post-it notes, bitcoin bets on the US election, and souping up your car to take you for a spin

How to save ourselves from the invisible gas choking us to death

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Cities are battling to meet legal standards for air pollution, but even that isn't enough to make air safe, says Michael Le Page

Paralysed people inhabit distant robot bodies with thought alone

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Using a head-up display and a cap that reads brain activity, for the first time three people with spinal injury have controlled a robot and seen what it sees

Superfast therapy cracks multidrug-resistant tuberculosis

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 17:00:11 +0000

A new drug regime cures 82 per cent of people with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis – and in less than half the time taken by current treatments

Energy-generating floorboard lights up 35 LEDs with one footstep

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 16:29:36 +0000

A cheap and biodegradable material made from wood pulp can turn footsteps into electricity – a useful complement to renewables like solar

Souped-up SIM allows mobile payments where there’s no network

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 16:39:34 +0000

A new device lets people make mobile payments in areas without cellphone coverage, aiding in parts of the world with limited mobile and banking access

HIV jumped to the US in 1970 – 10 years before it was spotted

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 17:00:08 +0000

The HIV virus was in the US in the 1970s before it triggered the nation's AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, a new genetic study has found

‘Autism therapy helped my child speak’ – a mum hails new method

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 15:59:36 +0000

Louisa Harrison explains how a parent-led intervention – the first to have lasting benefits for children with autism – helped her communicate with her son

Google’s neural networks invent their own encryption

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 15:16:44 +0000

Using machine learning, computers have come up with codes that let them send secret messages to each other – but they’re still a long way off humans

Super-cold winters in the UK and US are due to Arctic warming

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 13:51:29 +0000

The warming of the Arctic is affecting the jet stream winds, bringing more cold snaps that persist for longer to the UK and US

Kamikaze cells wage biowarfare and fight viruses with viruses

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 11:21:03 +0000

When a giant virus attacks one marine predator, it sacrifices itself to make viruses that kill the attacker

Spider-eating bug muffles web vibrations to sneak up on prey

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 23:01:13 +0000

It’s a silent assassin. To eat a spider, the long-necked giraffe assassin bug has to snap web threads without being noticed – and avoid being devoured itself

Autism intervention is first to show benefits over the long term

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 22:30:58 +0000

A programme that tweaks parents' communication skills is the first to show consistent improvements in children with severe autism

Mice fall for rubber hand illusion just like us

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 21:00:49 +0000

Rodents can be tricked into thinking a fake tail is their own, and in doing so may help us develop prosthetic limbs that are more easily incorporated into body image

Smart lab rats filmed using hooked tools to get chocolate cereal

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Lock up your cereal. Rats can learn to use tools, such as hooked rakes, to reach food, and they can even choose the right tool for the job

Material that shrinks in heat can weather extreme temperatures

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 14:55:34 +0000

Using 3D printing, two materials that naturally expand when they warm up have been configured into a composite that contracts instead as the thermometer rises

Snowmobile plunge claims life of Antarctica researcher

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 14:06:03 +0000

An expert on how melting glaciers feed sea level rise has died in a crevasse fall – a reminder of the hazards of the Antarctic terrain

The truth about porn: why masturbation won’t kill your sex life

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 17:00:00 +0000

Has online pornography created a generation of impotent young men with a dangerous addiction to extreme images? Clare Wilson investigates

Massive botnet-powered web attack fuels need to step up defences

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 12:10:50 +0000

A huge attack on cyberspace involving hundreds of thousands of internet devices brought down parts of the web this weekend. Can we stop it happening again?

Space is full of gigantic holes that are bigger than we expected

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 10:09:08 +0000

The universe is full of eerie, empty voids that are bigger than we ever expected – and could help unravel the cosmos's deepest mysteries

How I got addicted to painkillers

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 13:22:23 +0000

As the UK government calls for urgent action to help people hooked on prescription drugs, Cathryn Kemp explains what it is like to find yourself addicted to painkillers

Hundreds of deep-sea vents found spewing methane off US coast

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 21:00:38 +0000

Recent surveys off the US coast have discovered vents spewing a potent greenhouse gas and curiously purple creatures deep below the sea’s surface  

Virtual reality: No one is actually buying 2016’s hottest tech

Wed, 12 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

PlayStation VR has joined the wave of new virtual reality gear, but will it ever have mainstream appeal? Hal Hodson investigates

Lying feels bad at first but our brains soon adapt to deceiving

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 15:00:55 +0000

Scans reveal that as we tell more and more fibs, our brains become desensitised to lying, allowing dishonesty to snowball

Addiction to prescription drugs is UK ‘public health disaster’

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 13:20:59 +0000

Doctors and politicians are calling for urgent action to help people who get hooked on prescription painkillers, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medicines

Mars orbiter spots new crater that may be ExoMars’s lost lander

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 18:05:38 +0000

The lander may have turned off its thrusters too early, meaning it smacked into the ground at high speed with full fuel tanks - and may have exploded

Double star may light up the sky as rare red nova in six years

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 16:50:09 +0000

New observations of a binary star in the constellation Cygnus suggest they may be in a death spiral and will soon collide and explode

Smart lab rats filmed using hooked tools to get chocolate cereal

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 15:59:14 +0000

Lock up your cereal. Rats can learn to use tools, such as hooked rakes, to reach food, and they can even choose the right tool for the job

Shawl thing: Cashmere could soon come from gene-edited goats

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 15:01:43 +0000

No kidding, goats modified using the CRISPR gene-editing method can produce a third more of the precious fibre

Is it time to allow more than two parents on birth certificates?

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 15:47:52 +0000

Changing attitudes, surrogacy and reproductive technology mean it's right that England and Wales reconsider the birth-registration law, says Julie McCandless

Final US presidential clash fails on climate change once more

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 13:39:29 +0000

In the last debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, a journalist again failed to push them on the world's most-pressing problem, says Matthew Nisbet  

Kuwait to change law forcing all citizens to provide DNA samples

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 12:11:14 +0000

Challenges and appeals have pushed Kuwait’s parliament to revise anti-terrorism law that requires citizens and visitors to give samples of their DNA

These are the foods you should eat if you want less smelly farts

Fri, 14 Oct 2016 09:41:45 +0000

By mixing faeces with food ingredients, researchers have worked out which foodstuffs can reduce the amount of “rotten-egg gas” produced by our gut bacteria

Roaming fashion robots keep busy doing odd jobs on your clothes

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 09:56:21 +0000

Pocket-sized "Rovables" could zip to your wrist to monitor your pulse before climbing to your chest to act as a digital name badge

Iceland drills hottest hole to tap into energy of molten magma

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 07:00:07 +0000

A new well tested in Iceland could boost geothermal energy production tenfold by exploiting 1000 °C magma steam deep below Earth’s surface

Hundreds of endangered wild snow leopards are killed each year

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 04:00:36 +0000

Cattle herders kill even more leopards than poachers, in revenge for livestock attacks. So helping them protect their animals could save the rare mountain cats  

E-paper display runs on office lights and never needs charging

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 16:56:01 +0000

Microsoft researchers have made an ‘energy-neutral’ device that harvests solar power from ambient lighting so you’ll never need to change the battery

Police mass face recognition in the US will net innocent people

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 16:34:06 +0000

A law enforcement database of 117 million faces - half of all US citizens – hasn’t been properly vetted and is likely biased against black people, says Hal Hodson

$100 million project to make intelligence-boosting brain implant

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 16:00:08 +0000

Human intelligence is set to be the world’s biggest ever industry, says entrepreneur Bryan Johnson, whose company aims to enhance it with a brain prosthesis

Mice’s love songs go wrong when ‘language gene’ is messed up

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 14:47:11 +0000

The FOXP2 gene probably helped us evolve speech when we split from chimpanzees. But tinkering with the gene in mice affects their communication too

Dozens of ancient shipwrecks spotted deep beneath the Black Sea

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 14:06:51 +0000

Decks of medieval ships have been revealed in unprecedented detail in exquisitely preserved wrecks, some found as deep as 1 kilometre

Our ancestors chose reeds over grain when quitting nomadic life

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 12:00:14 +0000

It wasn’t all about cereal. When abandoning nomadic life, some of our ancestors were playing it safe with grasses that are less nutritious but grow all year round

Tesla shows off fully autonomous car in new video demonstration

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 09:34:26 +0000

Elon Musk has announced that all cars produced in Tesla's factories from now on will include upgraded hardware that enables them to drive entirely autonomously

Fears grow that ExoMars lander lost in final minute of descent

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 09:13:18 +0000

ESA has spelled out what we know so far about what happened to the Schiaparelli lander on its descent to the surface of Mars - and it doesn't look good

Lab-made eggs will help people have children when they choose to

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

The creation of mature eggs from adult mouse skin cells will almost certainly be replicated in humans, giving people more choice over when they start a family

It’s fine to put a price on life, as long as it’s fair

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Your life might feel priceless to you and your loved ones, but society needs to know its value

Why San Francisco’s next quake could be much bigger than feared

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 18:00:54 +0000

Two major fault lines in the San Francisco Bay Area are linked, and could rupture together releasing five times more energy than one of them alone

Is pain catching? First clues that it might spread to others

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 18:00:21 +0000

Scents and odours seem to be implicated in the first experiments that seem to show mice can sensitise other mice to pain

California is covering mountains with sensors to fight drought

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

A project is kicking off in the Sierra Nevada mountains to monitor moisture levels to help control the state’s water supplies and hydro power

First birds made honking sounds more than 66 million years ago

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

A new fossil discovery has shown that birds developed the unique vocal organ that enables them to sing more than 66 million years ago when dinosaurs were around

Uranus might have two dark moons we’ve never seen before

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Newly detected wavy patterns in two of the planet’s rings suggest they are being warped by two small, unseen satellites

Is it right to kill millions of animals if it protects others?

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Culls are routinely carried out around the world in the name of upholding biodiversity and animal welfare. Are they ethical and do they work, asks Alice Klein

Islands to lose fresh water as rising seas sink them from within

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

As sea levels rise, islands can lose ground not only on their coasts, but also inland as lakes spring up – and cause drinking water to evaporate

Some of our Stone Age tools may just be crafty monkey throwaways

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 17:00:57 +0000

Capuchins make stone flakes that could be mistaken for hominin tools, but they do so by accident in search of mineral dust they lick, perhaps as a medication

Mystery cosmic objects light up in X-ray then go dim in an hour

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 17:00:06 +0000

Digging through old observations of galaxies, astronomers have discovered X-ray flares from objects they can’t yet identify

Cameras monitor hospital patients’ vital signs from afar

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 16:33:53 +0000

Trials at John Radcliffe and Broadmoor hospitals show how special software can monitor patients' breathing and heart rate from camera images

Dental checks can’t verify the age of child asylum seekers

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 15:53:20 +0000

The ages of migrants seeking asylum as unaccompanied children cannot be accurately determined using dental X-rays or bone scans, says Tim Cole

Pluto may sport clouds of poisonous acid and flammable gases

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 14:36:13 +0000

Wispy features spotted just above the dwarf planet’s surface might be clouds – and they seem to be made of nasty stuff

“Not good signs”: wait for ExoMars lander will run overnight

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 13:35:16 +0000

The ExoMars mission is GO. ESA is waiting to hear that the Schiaparelli lander has touched down on Mars, while the Trace Gas Orbiter has avoided smashing into it

One in 20 European patients catch an infection while in hospital

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 18:00:32 +0000

An analysis of data from hospitals from across Europe estimates that there are 2.5 million hospital-acquired infections a year, causing around 90,000 deaths

Mystery beast in ice age cave art revealed as cow-bison hybrid

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 15:00:08 +0000

What was long thought to be a change in cave art style was in fact the natural evolution of a hybrid species – the elusive ancestor of modern European bison

‘I had a mail-order abortion’: The women forced to go it alone

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 13:18:41 +0000

Many Irish women travel to England for abortions but sometimes this is not practical. One woman tells us how a website made it possible

Security agencies collected data unlawfully, UK court rules

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 12:31:36 +0000

Tribunal finds secret collection and use of confidential personal information by GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 breached privacy laws for more than a decade

Get ready for ESA’s white-knuckle descent to the Red Planet

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 12:08:54 +0000

Europe's latest attempt to land on Mars will be a nail-biting, nerve-wracking ride, says Mark Sims, who led its first touchdown on the Red Planet

Toddler stars’ baby fat kicks out almost all their exoplanets

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 09:45:38 +0000

The Kepler space telescope has found more singleton planets than expected. A new explanation blames young stars for tossing planets out in a tantrum

UK government taken to court over failure to cut air pollution

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 09:01:15 +0000

Campaign group ClientEarth has asked the British High Court to make the government do more to restrain nitrogen dioxide levels in cities

Anti-inflammatory drugs can relieve symptoms of depression

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 08:00:15 +0000

An analysis of 20 studies suggests that anti-cytokine drugs could help people with depression – especially those who don’t respond to antidepressants

Dr House goes digital as IBM’s Watson diagnoses rare diseases

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 04:01:55 +0000

Doctors will use Watson as a diagnostic tool after finding it could match symptoms with potential rare diseases as well as a human – but faster

Overweight mothers give birth to biologically older babies

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 00:00:23 +0000

Babies born to obese mothers have shorter telomeres - equivalent to up to 10 years' extra ageing - which may put them at risk of diabetes and heart disease

Here’s why putting tomatoes in the fridge makes them tasteless

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 19:00:22 +0000

Changes in gene activity affect the flavour of chilled tomatoes, a new insight that could help us create more cold-proof varieties

Whales’ dung is the real reason we need to stop hunting them

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 16:51:02 +0000

Growing evidence that whales boost fish numbers and play a crucial environmental role will take centre stage at a major whaling summit taking place this week

Eggs made from skin cells in lab could herald end of infertility

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 15:00:11 +0000

Fertile eggs have been created from mouse skin cells for the first time, raising the prospect of new fertility treatments and babies with two genetic fathers

Ban for gases that saved the ozone layer but now warm the planet

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 11:38:07 +0000

Nations have agreed to limit the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), chemicals that helped protect the ozone layer but are potent greenhouses gases

ExoMars spacecraft splits in two to explore Mars surface and air

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 09:51:54 +0000

It’s crunch time for the ExoMars mission, as its orbiter and lander spring into action ahead of Wednesday’s landing

Older women have babies with fewer birth defects after IVF

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 09:41:49 +0000

An analysis of 300,000 births in Australia has found that older women who conceive via IVF or ICSI are less likely to have children with abnormalities

China launches two astronauts to stay on its new space station

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 09:41:19 +0000

The Shenzhou 11 mission launched from the edge of the Gobi Desert in northern China today - and the astronauts will dock with the Tiangong-2 space station in two days

Islands to lose fresh water as rising seas sink them from within

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 08:00:45 +0000

As sea levels rise, islands can lose ground not only on their coasts, but also inland as lakes spring up – and cause drinking water to evaporate

Home abortions are safe – we should let women do it themselves

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 04:01:59 +0000

The abortion pill is so safe and easy to use we should let women take it at home, says Clare Wilson

Virus steals black widow poison gene to help it attack

Tue, 11 Oct 2016 15:00:54 +0000

For the first time a virus that targets bacteria has been found to have genes lifted from non-bacterial cells – those of the black widow spider

Strange signals from 234 stars could be ET – or human error

Fri, 14 Oct 2016 22:12:51 +0000

Two Canadian astrophysicists claim they’ve detected intelligent signals from 234 sun-like stars - but don’t get your hopes up yet

The moon has hundreds more craters than we thought

Wed, 12 Oct 2016 17:00:24 +0000

Bombardment by small meteors is constantly churning up the surface of the moon. The dust-up could pose a hazard to future lunar settlements

How much water should you drink a day? Your throat will tell you

Mon, 10 Oct 2016 11:04:26 +0000

When you’ve had enough to drink, it becomes harder to swallow water – a finding that suggests you shouldn’t force yourself to drink eight glasses a day

Weird binary system spotted with three rings around two stars

Tue, 11 Oct 2016 14:00:57 +0000

Astronomers have stumbled upon a unique binary system with a disc of gas and dust around each star – and then a third disc circling both

Proxima b’s hyperactive star is more sun-like than thought

Fri, 14 Oct 2016 16:09:42 +0000

The star hosting the nearest exoplanet has a multi-year activity cycle, much like the sun – but its powerful maximum could prove deadly

Uranus might have two dark moons we’ve never seen before

Fri, 14 Oct 2016 15:33:57 +0000

Newly detected wavy patterns in two of the planet’s rings suggest they are being warped by two small, unseen satellites  

Kratom ban rethink is a hint of sanity in failed US war on drugs

Fri, 14 Oct 2016 14:32:21 +0000

Public opposition has seen a proposed ban on the medicinal leaf kratom dropped for now. Criminalising it would have been madness, says Marc Swogger

It’s not just the Nobel committee: scientists love Bob Dylan too

Fri, 14 Oct 2016 13:31:57 +0000

More than 200 scientific papers have referenced Bob Dylan's songs in the title since 1990 - but the Nobel-winner is still beaten by The Beatles

Worms seen farming plants to be eaten later for the first time

Fri, 14 Oct 2016 12:29:38 +0000

A type of ragworm has been spotted dabbling in gardening for the first time, a behaviour that allows it to grow much bigger by unleashing more nutrition

Does a tweet designed to trigger seizures count as assault?

Fri, 14 Oct 2016 06:00:31 +0000

A video embedded in a tweet that seemed intended to trigger an epileptic seizure in someone known to have the condition crosses a line, says Elizabeth Joh