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Buttercups focus light to heat their flowers and attract insects

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 00:01:00 +0000

A special layer of cells inside the petals makes them act together like a parabolic reflector, focusing visible and infrared light on the flower centre

US scientists voice fears over how science will fare under Trump

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 21:01:00 +0000

Concerns over the impact of President Trump’s policies on science have been raised at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Boston

Smart meter tracks when the kettle’s on to check grandpa’s OK

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 20:00:00 +0000

A monitoring system, tested in hundreds of UK homes, builds profiles of energy use and sends alerts if someone’s routine changes in a worrying way

Putting cancer patients in hibernation could help tackle tumours

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 19:00:00 +0000

Tumour growth would slow right down or cease while healthy cells in the body become more resistant to radiation

Exercise reduces death from breast cancer relapse by 40 per cent

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 17:13:00 +0000

A quarter of women with breast cancer will die from cancer spreading around the body – exercise is the most important lifestyle factor in preventing this

Bird flu strain hitting China may be getting more infectious

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 14:07:00 +0000

Already this winter H7N9 has caused 424 known cases in humans, and it seems to be acquiring a deadly mutation that will make it spread more quickly

You are what you eat: Old food shortens lifespan in animals

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 14:00:00 +0000

Mice, flies and yeast fed on food from old organisms had a shorter lifespan than animals fed on young organisms, perhaps because of faster accumulation of cellular damage

Mind-reading typing tool for paralysed people is fastest yet

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 13:14:00 +0000

Three people with paralysis have learned to type by thought alone using a brain implant – at almost half the speed at which people with no motor disability can text

Robot companion’s can-do attitude rubs off on children

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 13:01:00 +0000

Children using a companion robot to help solve puzzles or listen to them tell stories tried harder when it was programmed to have a can-do attitude

Mystery eye disease is latest blow for Australia’s sick turtles

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 09:32:00 +0000

Green turtles on the Great Barrier Reef have developed a strange eye disease, which could be a result of a recent herpes outbreak or high levels of cobalt

‘Meditating mice’ reveal secrets of mindfulness training

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 20:00:00 +0000

Mice are less on edge if their brainwaves are coaxed to resemble those patterns that meditation boosts in humans

Teacher body cams are not the answer to bad classroom behaviour

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 17:59:00 +0000

There is precious little evidence that equipping school staff with body-mounted video kit will help tackle disruptive students, says teacher Tom Bennett

The upstart asteroid who showed rings are for everybody

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 16:40:00 +0000

Rings were thought to belong only to an exclusive celestial club including flashy giants like Saturn – but then Chariklo crashed the party

Family tree of stars helps reconstruct Milky Way’s formation

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 15:56:00 +0000

Using an array of chemical elements detected in stars as proxies for their “DNA”, stellar histories can be tracked around the galaxy, mapping a family tree

New advice is use fewer passwords – why the change of tack?

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 15:23:00 +0000

Unique, strong passwords, changed frequently, has been the mantra for all the websites we log into. Why is that advice under attack, wonders Paul Marks

Fish recorded singing dawn chorus on reefs just like birds

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 15:15:00 +0000

Underwater recordings of vocal fish off the Australian coast reveal an ocean choir composed of at least seven distinct choruses

Alarm as climate sceptic named head of US environment agency

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 12:57:00 +0000

Scientists within the EPA say work continues as usual for now, but they worry about potential changes when Scott Pruitt – a climate change sceptic – takes charge

We need slow science to sow the seeds of future prosperity

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 10:00:00 +0000

It's tempting to invest in rapid development at the cost of slow and steady research – but good things come to those who wait

Two new drug therapies might cure every form of tuberculosis

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 21:00:00 +0000

In small trials across Africa, the therapies cured people with even the most drug-resistant forms of TB, and more quickly than current treatments

Vitamin D supplements may prevent millions of winter infections

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 20:00:00 +0000

Taking vitamin D could lead to 3 million fewer respiratory infections – like colds and flu – in the UK every year, but some say the evidence isn’t clear

New NASA teams will make human Mars missions light and efficient

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 19:07:00 +0000

NASA just funded two new institutes to develop technology for future space missions: one to make lighter materials, one to help build with the resources on Mars itself

Mars might already be building rings from its moons

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 18:01:00 +0000

Simulations show that Mars will rip its moon Phobos into a ring in a few million years – but proto-rings may already exist

Antarctic sea ice is very low – but don’t jump to conclusions

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 17:34:00 +0000

Drawing premature conclusions about global warming’s role in Antarctic sea ice loss is unjustified whether positive or negative. The evidence must speak for itself

Hens that can lay eggs from other species could save rare birds

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 17:00:00 +0000

Like a seed bank for poultry, a 'frozen aviary' will store primordial stem cells for rare breeds of birds so they can be saved

Microsoft app helps people with ALS speak using just their eyes

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 16:17:00 +0000

A smartphone app called GazeSpeak uses eye movements to predict the words you want to say, allowing people with motor disabilities to communicate faster

Trump may be very flawed but that doesn’t make him mentally ill

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 13:04:00 +0000

Calls from psychiatrists for Donald Trump to be declared unfit to be US president on mental health grounds are misguided, says Dr Allen Frances

Big builder ants and tiny guard ants live together in one nest

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 10:15:00 +0000

Two completely different ant species live together in a single society in which a fierce dwarf species seems to protect its giant nest mates from invaders

Screening soldiers doesn’t protect them from mental illness

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 23:30:00 +0000

Checking British soldiers for symptoms of PTSD, depression and alcohol problems doesn't prevent them from developing psychological illness after war

Honeybees let out a ‘whoop’ when they bump into each other

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 21:00:00 +0000

A vibrational pulse that was thought to be a “stop” signal between bees may actually be a startled response when they collide

Seagrass meadows help remove dangerous bacteria from ocean water

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

Seawater samples reveal that seagrass areas have much lower levels of a microbe found in sewage – adding to the known benefits of these declining ecosystems

Dwarf planet Ceres hosts home-grown organic material

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

The first evidence of organic material on Ceres opens the door to the possibility that other asteroids harbour precursors to primitive life

Timing when you get pregnant could prevent a miscarriage

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 18:02:00 +0000

A quarter of pregnancies end in miscarriage. A new explanation suggests there’s a window of opportunity when it’s best for some women to conceive

Can we grow woolly mammoths in the lab? George Church hopes so

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 15:11:00 +0000

We may only be two years away from creating hybrid mammoth embryos, but that would only be the first step on a very long road towards resurrecting the animal

Key Alzheimer’s drug shows ‘virtually no chance of working’

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 14:43:00 +0000

The failure of another drug that targets beta amyloid plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s has revived doubts over whether plaque causes the disease

Far-off asteroid caught cohabiting with Uranus around the sun

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 11:45:00 +0000

The second Trojan asteroid of Uranus ever found suggests there could be hundreds more associated with the planet

Turn satellites into sparkling fireworks to burn up space junk

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 10:32:00 +0000

Satellite debris that falls to Earth could be deadly, but pellets made of a heat-generating mixture could help them burn up safely in the atmosphere

Tiny 3D-printed camera lens could give drones vision like ours

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 19:00:00 +0000

The camera, measuring less than the width of a few human hairs, combines four lenses to mimic the natural vision of predators with precise detail only in the centre of an image

The Mars paradox: Why we still don’t understand water on Mars

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 18:00:00 +0000

A 40-year quest to resolve discrepancies between climate models and observations just got another false start. Are we missing something more fundamental?

Universes that spawn ‘cosmic brains’ should go on the scrapheap

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 18:00:00 +0000

Weird consciousnesses called Boltzmann brains arise in many cosmological theories – but we now have reason to rule them out unless we live in an old universe

Churchill’s lost essay on alien worlds has a message for us all

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 18:00:00 +0000

In 1939 Winston Churchill mused about the possibility of exoplanets and life beyond Earth. His words still resonate today, says Rebecca Boyle

Dormouse might be first tree-climbing mammal shown to echolocate

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 16:45:00 +0000

It's not just bats that navigate at night using a form of sonar – so might a dormouse, and if so it could tell us whether bats' echolocation preceded flight

Emergency clause lets European countries beat bee pesticide ban

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 16:29:00 +0000

About half of the European Union’s member states are making use of an emergency clause to allow the use of banned pesticides that are thought to harm bees

Metabolic switch may bring on chronic fatigue syndrome

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 21:00:00 +0000

CFS, also known as ME, may be caused by the body switching from fully breaking down carbohydrates to using other energy sources, bringing on pain and exhaustion

Junk food tax and veg subsidies could add 500,000 years of life

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 19:00:00 +0000

If Australia taxed junk food and subsidised fruit and veg, it would prolong healthy lives and save A$3 billion in future healthcare costs in the process

Crews race to fix California dam before more rain falls

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 17:55:00 +0000

Heavy rains caused erosion and a partial collapse of spillways at a California dam - and more rain is forecast, threatening to overflow it again and flood towns

Human genome editing shouldn’t be used for enhancement – yet

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 16:00:00 +0000

Gene editing can already treat human diseases, but while editing the germline and enhancing human traits might be acceptable one day, we’re not there yet, says report

How to build better sex robots: stop making them look human

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 15:31:00 +0000

From a stimulating exoskeleton to a vibrating fist, innovators are ditching the sex-bomb stereotype. But can we ever fully escape the uncanny valley of the dolls?

Sex and dentistry: I made a fellatio prosthetic for my mouth

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 14:31:00 +0000

Dentist-turned-artist Kuang-Yi Ku wants to change the way we think about medicine – and our mouths – with custom sex prosthetics. Frank Swain tried it out

Female shark learns to reproduce without males after years alone

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 11:54:00 +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

Metadating helps you find love based on your everyday data

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 10:48:00 +0000

Some sites use algorithms to match people looking for love – "metadating" goes a step further and lets you pore over a potential date's data

More people now believe human-made climate change is happening

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 00:01:00 +0000

The proportion of people in the UK who accept climate change is happening and is largely human-made has risen from 57 per cent three years ago to 64 per cent now

Mars landing sites for 2020 NASA mission down to the final three

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 18:06:00 +0000

At a meeting in California, NASA scientists whittled down the landing sites for its next rover - which will search for signs of life

NHS to start prescribing health apps that help manage conditions

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 17:08:00 +0000

Apps that let patients monitor their conditions and send data directly to doctors are coming to selected NHS trusts this year in a bid to reduce hospital visits

Climate change is already battering hundreds of animal species

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 16:00:00 +0000

Almost half of all threatened land mammals and a quarter of threatened birds may be feeling the pinch as a result of habitat loss and other changes

Virtual reality weather add-ons let you feel the sun and wind

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 15:11:00 +0000

You could soon get an even more immersive VR experience thanks to the Ambiotherm plug in, which exposes you to the elements of your virtual world

Australia’s extreme heatwave is a preview of things to come

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 11:54:00 +0000

The current record-breaking heat, sparking bush fires and putting people in hospital, could be a foretaste of the new normal as climate change proceeds

We need transparent trials to keep confidence in medicine

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 10:00:00 +0000

Controversies about the safety of medicines given to millions of people can’t be settled unless data is made more freely available

Deep-sea squid points a big, bulging eye up and a tiny eye down

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 00:01:00 +0000

Videos reveal that the cock-eyed squid’s two contrasting eyes are adapted for entirely different hunting purposes

Robotic bee could help pollinate crops as real bees decline

Fri, 10 Feb 2017 21:00:00 +0000

With bee populations tumbling, an autonomous drone just 4 centimetres wide could help pollinate crops by flying from flower to flower

New talk of warming pause just another faux climate controversy

Fri, 10 Feb 2017 17:58:00 +0000

The latest attempt to resurrect climate change deniers' favourite trope of a warming pause is just more smoke and mirrors, say Michael Mann and Susan Hassol  

Secrets of Earth’s birth carried in lava jets from planet’s core

Fri, 10 Feb 2017 16:19:00 +0000

Time capsules from around the time of Earth’s birth 4.5 billion years ago are preserved in the hottest mantle plumes despite planet’s plate tectonic activity

400 pilot whales stranded on New Zealand’s ‘whale trap’ beach

Fri, 10 Feb 2017 16:11:00 +0000

The reasons for mass strandings of marine animals, like this event in New Zealand, aren’t clear, but NASA is looking into whether solar storms could be involved

Foxes seen climbing trees at night to track down and eat koalas

Fri, 10 Feb 2017 14:03:00 +0000

Native Australian tree-dwellers may be at risk from European red foxes, which appear to have learnt how to climb trees in pursuit of prey such as koalas

Software helps musicians stop slouching by ruining their music

Fri, 10 Feb 2017 12:55:00 +0000

A system called the Musician's Mirror is designed to guard against posture-related injuries by giving players unpleasant auditory feedback

Stinky armpits? Bacteria from a less smelly person can fix them

Fri, 10 Feb 2017 11:44:00 +0000

Bacteria in your armpits are to blame for body odour, and some people have it particularly bad. But bacteria from a more fragrant relative can help

Monkeys and dogs judge humans by how they treat others

Fri, 10 Feb 2017 10:33:00 +0000

Experiments show that both canines and capuchins prefer those of us who help other people, hinting that morality may have a more-ancient origin than thought

New beetle species bites army ant’s butt and hitches a ride

Fri, 10 Feb 2017 01:00:00 +0000

The beetle uses its mandibles to latch on to an army ant’s rear, where it blends in while moving to a new nest together with the ants

Starlight test shows quantum world has been weird for 600 years

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 22:00:00 +0000

Unknown physics that could undermine quantum theory has been ruled out in a measurement guided by starlight emitted at least six centuries ago

Why grey wolves kill less prey when brown bears are around

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 20:30:00 +0000

We’ve long assumed wolf packs are forced to kill more often to make up for having meals stolen by scavenging bears – but the opposite is true, they kill less

AI learns to solve quantum state of many particles at once

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 19:00:00 +0000

The same kind of artificial intelligence that beat a top human player at Go could help grapple with the astonishing complexity of large quantum systems

Magnetic meteorites narrow down solar system’s birthdate

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 19:00:00 +0000

Magnetic fields in 4-billion-year-old rocks suggest the dust and gas cloud that spawned the solar system had gone by 3.8 million years after the sun formed

How a raised hand from a pedestrian could stop driverless cars

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 18:12:00 +0000

An LED display for the windscreens of driverless cars could tap into sensors to show pedestrians whether the car is aware of their presence and make it stop

Great lettuce crisis is a taste of climate crop chaos to come

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 17:50:00 +0000

The UK's lettuce shortage is a stark warning of how even the world's wealthy will find their food supply disrupted by climate change, warns Olive Heffernan

NASA wants to put a lander on Europa’s surface to look for life

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 15:22:00 +0000

If it goes ahead, the proposed lander mission would be NASA’s first search for life on the surface of another planet since the Mars Viking missions in the late seventies

Endangered snow leopards dine on livestock like goats and horses

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 14:41:00 +0000

In the Himalayas, goats and horses are especially prominent on the diet of endangered snow leopards, and male leopards tend to attack livestock more

Science stood apart from politics for a long time, not any more

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 13:55:00 +0000

A march for science to protest at Donald Trump's presidency has sparked debate about researchers getting too political. Why the fuss, wonders Michael Brooks

Synchronised swimming seems to make dolphins more optimistic

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 13:18:00 +0000

Having a mate to swim with – and mirror their movements – appears to make zoo dolphins feel more positive about their prospects in life

Primitive plants survive almost two years in outer space

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 09:30:00 +0000

Searing temperatures, radiation and lack of air didn't kill algae kept outside the International Space Station – so maybe life from space could colonise worlds

Glass from nuclear test site shows the moon was born dry

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 19:00:00 +0000

Examining residue from the first detonation of a nuclear weapon has helped explain why the moon seems to have so few volatile elements like water and methane

Antibiotics might kill gut bacteria that protect newborn lungs

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 19:00:00 +0000

A study in mice has found that gut bacteria send signals that protect young lungs from pneumonia, prompting concern over antibiotic use in Caesarean sections

Age verification for online porn will be a security disaster

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 18:00:00 +0000

The UK’s Digital Economy bill will force users to prove their age before they access porn. This is not only hard to do, it’s also a goldmine for blackmailers and hackers

Why some people with HIV can now ditch condoms

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 18:00:00 +0000

If you take your meds regularly, and you are monogamous, two new studies show a negligible chance of passing on HIV. How will this change lives?

More than 100 tech firms sign letter opposing Trump travel ban

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 18:00:00 +0000

Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft claim the president’s ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries inflicts "substantial harm on US companies”

Rare mid-weight black hole found at heart of bright star cluster

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 18:00:00 +0000

Intermediate-mass black holes – weighing a few hundred to a few thousand solar masses – are the Bigfoot of astronomy, but now we may have seen one in our galaxy

Massive lake drained for hydropower leaves dry bed and no fish

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 17:04:00 +0000

A large artificial lake in Bosnia’s Neretva valley has been emptied by an energy firm, leaving locals crying foul over damage to wildlife

Women with a thicker brain cortex are more likely to have autism

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 16:00:00 +0000

The outer layer of the brain is usually thicker in men than in women. Brain scans have found that having a thicker cortex is linked to autism spectrum disorder

Evolved instincts shaped democracy to resist bullies like Trump

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 12:06:00 +0000

Take heart America: US democracy's ability to stem autocracy is rooted in moral codes developed when we were all hunter-gatherers, says Christopher Boehm

Bird lookouts make alarm calls to save themselves, not the group

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 00:01:00 +0000

Arabian babbler birds that go it alone continue to sound alarm calls when they see threats, showing there must be selfish motives behind sentinel behaviour

Injection could permanently lower cholesterol by changing DNA

Tue, 07 Feb 2017 21:01:00 +0000

Some people have mutations that greatly lower their cholesterol. Tests in mice suggest gene editing could give the rest of us the same protection

LHC sees matter and antimatter misbehaving in alternate particle

Tue, 07 Feb 2017 19:00:00 +0000

The big bang should have created equal amounts of matter and antimatter – but where did all the antimatter go? A new measurement could help us find out

Blood test could catch pancreatic cancer before it’s too late

Tue, 07 Feb 2017 17:00:00 +0000

Pancreatic cancer is known as the “silent killer” because it is usually too advanced by the time it is discovered. An early blood test could change that

US conservative bill aims to axe EPA – here’s why it won’t work

Tue, 07 Feb 2017 15:02:00 +0000

The bill is latest in a series of signals that the US Environmental Protection Agency will be reined in under President Trump, but it might not end it just yet

Sun’s rotation is slowed down by its own photons

Tue, 07 Feb 2017 14:37:00 +0000

The sun's layers slow the escape of photons of sunlight, and when they finally stream away they return the favour by slowing the rotation of its outer layer

Printed ‘lab on a chip’ costs a penny and catches disease early

Tue, 07 Feb 2017 14:31:00 +0000

The cheap diagnostic kit is made using a regular inkjet printer and could catch signs of malaria, tuberculosis and cancer earlier in the developing world

Looking at a virtual hand reduces the pain in your real hand

Tue, 07 Feb 2017 10:56:00 +0000

When a virtual reality headset shows you a hand in the same position as your own, it has an analgesic effect on your own hand, raising your body’s pain threshold

Gravitational wave detector prepares to peer into bizarre stars

Tue, 07 Feb 2017 10:04:00 +0000

It has already made the discovery of the decade – next LIGO aims to model weird events so we can recognise them when they arrive

Switching from smoking to vaping does reduce your carcinogens

Mon, 06 Feb 2017 22:00:00 +0000

Many smokers believe e-cigarettes are just as bad for you, but now a study has shown that switching to e-cigarettes reduces cancer-causing chemicals in the body

Being friendly puts monkeys at risk in times of revolution

Mon, 06 Feb 2017 20:00:00 +0000

The young of sociable female capuchin monkeys survive better in times of peace, but are more likely to be killed when the group is going through a change of leadership

Space junk collector burns up after hitting snag in first test

Mon, 06 Feb 2017 17:16:00 +0000

A JAXA spacecraft designed to clear Earth's neighbourhood of debris with an electrified cable re-entered the atmosphere this morning after a failed mission

Ocean acidification may be good for thriving marine snails

Mon, 06 Feb 2017 17:00:00 +0000

Although acidifying oceans are expected to be bad news for marine life overall, tiny snails prove that there will be winners as well as losers