Belinda Smith

Belinda Smith

Belinda Smith is a science and technology journalist in Melbourne, Australia.

Belinda Smith has worked in science and technology reporting since she decided a life studying memory-impaired mice, part of an honours project, just wasn’t for her. She joined Cosmos in January 2015 and served as online editor from July 2016 to February 2017. She’s worked on The Conversation‘s science and technology desk, edited Wild magazine and has written for The Australian​. Her feature Tooling up for Mars appeared in The Best Australian Science Writing 2016.

  • Four tools for the future of energy

    These energy technologies are paving the way for a more sustainable future, writes Belinda Smith.

    Future fuel cells Imagine driving a car, but instead of exhaust fumes and carbon dioxide, it emits only pure water. C...

    December 27, 2017
  • The woman who dates Hobbits and giant apes

    Once a diving instructor, Kira Westaway is today one of the foremost authorities on hominin migra...

    At the bottom of a pit dug three metres into a cave floor, Kira Westaway sat on a box, methodically pushing hollow tu...

    October 13, 2017
  • Can dung beetles rein in cattle’s methane emissions?

    Dung beetles were introduced from Europe to save us from being buried in manure. Now researchers ...

    When European settlers brought cattle and sheep to Australia, they didn’t just bring food sources – they brought veri...

    September 3, 2017
  • A battle of good versus weevil

    Researchers at the University of Southern Queensland are exploring ways of using fungus to safegu...

    You might catch more flies with honey, but you can dispatch more weevils with fungi. Researchers at the University of...

    August 27, 2017
  • Making alien worlds on Earth

    Australian nuclear scientists are finding fresh ways to uncover the secrets of space, writes Beli...

    Want to get up close to the swirling methane seas on Saturn’s satellite Titan or check out the subsurface salty ocean...

    July 27, 2017
  • Ceres hosts ingredients for life – including organic compounds

    The largest body in the asteroid belt has very complex chemistry.

    This image of Ceres approximates how the dwarf planet's colours would appear to the eye. New data show the asteroid c...

    February 16, 2017
  • With Ebola, very few ‘superspreaders’ infected very many

    A new analysis of the West Africa Ebola outbreak finds that just 3% of patients infected 61% over...

    Old and young patients that stayed at home, received lots of visitors and had different carers were classified 'super...

    February 14, 2017
  • Quiet black hole may be lurking in cosmic ‘bullet’

    A chance observation in a corner of the Milky Way galaxy could hint at a hidden black hole.

    Artist’s impression of a stray black hole storming through a dense gas cloud. The gas is dragged along by the strong ...

    February 5, 2017
  • Flowing stars in Milky Way’s halo point to galactic cannibalisation

    Stars that flock like birds were flung from smaller galaxies, giving us clues to our galaxy's gro...

    The Milky Way galaxy sits in a halo of old stars. A simulation where the Milky Way merged with another, smaller galax...

    January 30, 2017
  • Seven elusive dwarf galaxy groups revealed

    The discovery forms an early piece of the galactic evolution puzzle.

    Four dwarf galaxies identified by astronomers. These tiny galaxies can offer insight into the formation of larger one...

    January 23, 2017
  • Calorie restricted monkeys lead a longer, healthier life

    Nearly four decades after they began, two long-running but conflicting studies reached a consensus.

    This macaque would do better if it put down the ice cream, according to two long-running studies on calorie restricti...

    January 18, 2017
  • How immune cells get into blood vessels

    They're the door-to-door salespeople of the body.

    When immune cells need to attack an invader or simply patrol your organs, they must slip in and out of the bloodstrea...

    January 18, 2017
  • Planetary puzzle: what’s causing Venus’ giant wave?

    A huge stationary structure, spotted by a Japanese probe, defies explanation. Belinda Smith reports.

    Brightness temperature and UV brightness of the Venus disc.© Planet-CWhen the Japanese space probe Akatsuki slotted i...

    January 17, 2017
  • Distant stars in Milky Way may be stolen from another galaxy

    The Sagittarius dwarf was robbed of a third of its stars and 90% of its dark matter as it moved a...

    An artist's impression of the Milky Way galaxy.NASA / JPLFive of the farthest stars in our galaxy may have been nicke...

    January 11, 2017
  • Apollo 14 gems reveal moon is 4.51 billion years old

    Zircon crystals brought to Earth by NASA astronauts in 1971 suggest our satellite was born within...

    Rocks and soil collected by the Apollo 14 mission – with lunar module pilot Edgar Mitchell pictured here – have helpe...

    January 11, 2017
  • Why you crave hot chips after a night on the town

    Don't feel too guilty when you drunkenly bite into a hot dog at 3 am – you can't argue with biology.

    There's a reason fried food stands are positioned outside pubs – alcohol activates appetite neurons in the brain.Jona...

    January 10, 2017
  • New synthetic spider silk that’s almost as strong as the real thing

    Researchers drew inspiration from arachnid anatomy to yield a kilometre of thread from a tiny amo...

    A nest of artificial spider silk fibres, spun by researchers from Europe and China.Lena HolmA new way of making artif...

    January 9, 2017
  • Many mini moonlets merged to make the modern moon – maybe

    It's possible our biggest satellite was built not in a single giant collision, but bit by bit. Be...

    Instead of coalescing from debris sprayed by a giant collision, the moon may have been the product of a number of sma...

    January 9, 2017
  • Short-term greenhouse gases cause long-term sea level rise

    Methane and other gases with a 10-year lifetime can cause enduring sea-level changes, thanks to t...

    The island nation of Tuvalu – only five metres above sea level at its highest point – will likely be the first countr...

    January 9, 2017
  • Enigmatic fast radio bursts traced to dim dwarf galaxy

    Telescopes around the world helped pinpoint the location of a repeating cosmic flash to a galaxy ...

    The faint dwarf galaxy that hosts a repeating fast radio burst.Gemini Observatory / AURA / NSF / NRCRare but powerful...

    January 4, 2017
  • Science portraits of 2016, part one

    Belinda Smith spoke to three young scientists and found out what inspires them.

    Cameron Ramsay / Studio CommercialCamilla Whittington, zoologistHow do male seahorses give birth? How do tiny baby pl...

    December 21, 2016
  • Cloudy with a chance of crystals: is this weather on a giant exoplanet?

    First observations of weather-like changes on a massive planet outside our solar system – but the...

    Computer artwork of a hot Jupiter, such as HAT-P-7b, orbiting its star. New observations suggest variable cloud cover...

    December 13, 2016
  • Supermassive black hole spotted tearing star to shreds: study

    An incredibly brilliant blast wasn't an exploding star at all, an international cohort of astrono...

    This artist’s impression depicts a sun-like star close to a rapidly spinning supermassive black hole, with a mass of ...

    December 12, 2016
  • Strange meteorites hint at young Jupiter’s travels

    Only a few million years after solids appeared in the solar system, the gas giant was already mas...

    NASA's Juno spacecraft captured this view as it closed in on Jupiter's north pole, about two hours before closest app...

    December 11, 2016
  • Saturn’s moons are recent companions, but they’re drifting away

    New Cassini spacecraft data suggest the gas giant's central core is more bulgy than we thought, a...

    Saturn’s moon Tethys seems to hang above the planet's north pole in this view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, taken 2...

    December 8, 2016
  • Earth’s spin is slowing, but not as much as it should

    Ancient texts help piece together the planet's rotational history. Belinda Smith reports.

    Greek astronomer Ptolemy kept detailed records of celestial events. They were used by researchers in the UK to determ...

    December 7, 2016
  • Bacteria resistant to antibiotic of last resort found in US piggery

    Piglets' environment harboured carbapenem-resistant bacteria, but there was no evidence of the mi...

    Farrowing barns, where piglets were born, contained carbapenem-resistant bacteria.mikedabell / Getty ImagesBacteria w...

    December 6, 2016
  • Fijian farmer ants sow, fertilise and live in plants in trees

    This species of ant and the six species of plant it cultivates are entirely dependent on each oth...

    A Squamellaria 'field' in a Macaranga tree farmed by a colony of Philidris nagasau ants.Guillaume ChomickiAn ant spec...

    November 21, 2016
  • Light warped by galaxy cluster reveals distant dwarf galaxies

    Tiny, dim galaxies were home to vigorous star formation when the universe was only a few billion ...

    The massive galaxy cluster Abell 1689 creates a strong gravitational effect on background and older galaxies, seen he...

    November 21, 2016
  • Galactic supercluster found hiding behind Milky Way

    Our own galaxy, as beautiful as it is, blocks a patch of the sky. New observations near this 'Zon...

    The centre of the image, so-called the Zone of Avoidance, is covered by the Milky Way (with its stellar fields and du...

    November 17, 2016
  • Ancient amulet’s creative secrets uncovered with new technique

    'Full-field photoluminescence' confirmed the 6,000-year-old artefact is the oldest known object m...

    We know this amulet from Mehrgarh, Pakistan is the oldest known object cast in the 'lost wax' method, thanks to a new...

    November 15, 2016
  • Why is salt so addictive?

    So what controls our appetite for good old sodium chloride?

    Does the thought of salty fries get your mouth watering? Do you like to nibble salt crystals off pretzels? Research t...

    November 15, 2016
  • Scraps of brightest exploding stars stretch over time

    The inner layer of a superluminous supernovae has elongated in a matter of weeks, new observation...

    RCW 103, the remains of a supernova explosion located about 9,000 light-years from Earth. It's nothing compared to su...

    November 8, 2016
  • Recently slaughtered elephants fuel illegal African ivory trade

    Radiocarbon dating showed vast majority of seized ivory was harvested by poachers in the past few...

    Elephants such as this one from Samburu National Reserve in Kenya are under great poaching pressure.Thure Cerling, Un...

    November 8, 2016
  • Like us, bonobos become long-sighted with age

    Reading glasses are, for many people, a fact of life when they hit 40 years old. But our primate ...

    This photo shows TN (male: 45 years old) grooming JD (male: 21 years old). TN is the oldest bonobo in E1 group at Wam...

    November 7, 2016
  • Thirty comet chemical ‘fingerprints’ identified from Earth

    Composition of 'dirty snowballs' can tell planetary scientists about birthplace and evolution ove...

    A false-colour image of the long-period Comet Hale-Bopp. An enormous dust jet emanates northwards of the nucleus.ESOT...

    November 7, 2016
  • Deadliest volcano in the US has a heart of cold, wet stone

    Seismologists set off explosives to map the plumbing beneath Mt St Helens – and may have solved t...

    Mt St Helens' magma source isn't directly below – so where is it?Steven HansenLogic says the volcano responsible for ...

    November 2, 2016
  • Moon-forming crash sent Earth into a spin: study

    Simulations show a collision strong enough to tilt our young planet almost on its side can explai...

    After a developing planet smashed into the primordial Earth, it nearly tilted the planet all the way over, simulation...

    November 1, 2016
  • Zika virus destroys testicles in mice

    A new study from the US suggests Zika infection may interfere with a man's ability to have childr...

    As Zika infection lingers in male mice, the internal structure of the testes breaks down. In an uninfected mouse on t...

    October 31, 2016
  • To trace a gas giant’s birth, take its temperature

    Supercomputer simulations show two planet-formation scenarios have very different signatures, whi...

    Gravitational instability simulation: two snapshots in the early and late stage of the simulation at 780 years and 19...

    October 28, 2016
  • Young star trio born from clumping disc of gas and dust

    Telltale signs of a particular method of stellar formation are found in new telescope observation...

    A young triple protostar system, less than 150,000 years old, has been spotted – along with a spiral of gas and dust....

    October 26, 2016
  • Amputees gain dextrous touch and movement with bionic hands

    Electrical stimulation mimics natural touch, enabling amputees to feel a range of intensity that ...

    Research into life-like bionic limbs is advancing in leaps and bounds. Recently, we reported on a partially paralysed...

    October 26, 2016
  • Even your brain starts to sag with age

    Magnetic resonance imaging analysis shows grey matter folds change with time – and with disease. ...

    Yujiang Wang of Newcastle University in the UK and colleagues found the tension in the brain's outer layer of neurons...

    October 24, 2016
  • Scientists unveil structure of human cannabinoid receptor

    Knowing the 3-D build of the CB1 receptor could help researchers design drugs with fewer side eff...

    The medical benefits of marijuana have been known for millennia. Now scientists are exploring the tiny receptors that...

    October 20, 2016
  • Watch Expedition 49/50 arrive at space station

    The Soyuz spacecraft is due to dock at 9.59 am UTC today.

    Up, up and away!NASA / Joel KowskyShane Kimbrough of NASA and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of the ...

    October 20, 2016
  • Mysterious bright X-ray blasts stump astronomers

    These brief flares are unlike anything seen in our own Milky Way galaxy. Belinda Smith reports.

    This Chandra X-ray Observatory image shows the galaxy NGC 5128 with its hot gas and many X-ray point sources. The cir...

    October 19, 2016
  • Earliest humans suffered through massive volcanic blasts

    Geologists think our ancestors, making their way through East Africa, had to contend with devasta...

    Satellite image of Aluto volcano, located in Ethiopia’s Rift Valley. The volcano is nestled between the lakes of Ziwa...

    October 18, 2016
  • Mars, in all its ultraviolet glory

    New images snapped by NASA's MAVEN spacecraft highlight previously invisible features of the Mart...

    The series interleaves MAVEN images to show about seven hours of Mars rotation during this period, just over a quarte...

    October 17, 2016
  • Proxima Centauri surprises with starspot cycle

    Observations of our next-door star show it to be more sunlike than we first thought. Belinda Smit...

    The nearby star Proxima Centauri shows signs of a seven-year activity cycle – weird behaviour for a low-mass star. NA...

    October 16, 2016
  • Chris Sharpley: the professor who went back to university at 60

    Who says old dogs can’t learn new tricks? Belinda Smith chatted to the University of New England ...

    Chris Sharpley (centre) with members of the University of New England's Brain-Behaviour Research Group.Simon Scott / ...

    October 13, 2016
  • Platypus ancestor had teeth but inferior electro-sense

    Analysis of an ancient skull finds evolution of super electroreception skills may have squeezed o...

    The modern-day platypus – a bottom-feeding, toothless, egg-laying mammal.LEONELLO CALVETTI / Getty ImagesIn terms of ...

    October 12, 2016
  • Cicada wing ‘nano-nipples’ inspire anti-reflective material

    The material could be used in solar cells, researchers in China say.  Belinda Smith reports.

    A cicada's wings are covered with teeny structures that effectively trap photons and stop reflections.Mohamad Ridzuan...

    October 12, 2016
  • Ultra-bright black hole found ‘wandering’ in distant universe

    It's straying to the edge of its galaxy – but the galaxy might not be its original host. Belinda ...

    X-ray image of the suspected ultra-bright black hole XJ1417+52 on the edge of the galaxy GJ1417+52.X-ray: NASA / CXC ...

    October 11, 2016
  • How massive can a supermassive black hole get?

    There does seem to be a limit – but it's on the order of tens of billions times the mass of the s...

    There's a limit to how big a supermassive black hole can become before it stunts it own growth, calculations suggest....

    October 9, 2016
  • Giant superhot blobs of gas fired from hidden star

    The Hubble Space Telescope detected these 'cannonballs' flying from the red giant V Hydrae, but o...

    An artist's impression of two stars which, when they near, blast hot balls of plasma.NASA / ESA / STScIHot balls of g...

    October 7, 2016
  • A better way to brew beer?

    Tiny bubbles have the power to produce the golden drop faster, using less energy and water. Belin...

    kali9 / Getty ImagesFor a product that’s been made for millennia, it’s quite incredible that beer brewing techniques ...

    October 6, 2016
  • Nerve agent antidote ‘vaccine’ may one day protect against attacks

    Sarin and similar weapons of mass destruction cause horrific symptoms and death, sometimes within...

    Lethal nerve agents have been used in terrorism attacks, such as 1995's Tokyo subway sarin attack, and in wars such a...

    October 5, 2016
  • Frankfurter fraud: what animals are in your hot dog?

    A genetic test exposes what meat – or meats – make up your handheld meal. Belinda Smith reports.

    LOIC VENANCE / AFP / Getty ImagesHot dogs labelled "beef" sold at a Malaysian market contained buffalo, according to ...

    October 3, 2016
  • End-Permian mass extinction was not so massive: study

    US palaeontologist states once the dust settled following the 'great dying' around 250 million ye...

    Rare fossilised crinoids Jimbacrinus bostocki from the Permian. At the end of the era, how many species died?John Can...

    October 3, 2016
  • Yoshinori Ohsumi wins medicine Nobel for uncovering how cells ‘self-eat’

    His work on how cells break down and recycle components provides a platform on which associated d...

    First cab off the rank: Japanese biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi is announced the recipient of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Phy...

    October 3, 2016
  • Probing Earth’s weak spots using electromagnetic fields

    Weaknesses in our planet's outermost layers can be estimated – and with them, potential volcanic ...

    Chris Clor / Getty ImagesPredicting when and where earthquakes will strike and volcanoes erupt is notoriously difficu...

    September 29, 2016
  • 3-D printed ‘bone’ helps heal fractures

    Personalised grafts made from printable material could one day come to a (surgical) theatre near ...

    The new material has only been tested on rodents and a monkey so far, but one day may be used to mend our own cracked...

    September 29, 2016
  • Quakes shake Mercury and warp its surface

    Before it spiralled to its death, NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft took photos of geological formation...

    Carnegie Rupes, a large tectonic landform, which cuts through 105-kilometre-wide Duccio crater. NASA / Johns Hopkins ...

    September 26, 2016
  • Anthrax ‘conveyor belt’ shuttles toxins into cells

    Three proteins work together to pour into cells and shut down a host's immune system.

    Coloured transmission electron micrograph of anthrax (Bacillus anthracis) bacteria (yellow) cultured from a blood sam...

    September 26, 2016
  • Easy nanosensor test for E. coli contamination

    A combination of magnetic resonance and fluorescence is the key.

    US researchers have unveiled a detector that can pick up diarrhoea-causing bacteria in milk and water in less than an...

    September 25, 2016
  • Ancient Hebrew scroll is read without being unrolled

    A piece of parchment so burnt it looked like a piece of firewood yielded text from the Book of Le...

    A rare piece of burnt parchment from En-Gedi. Modern scanning and digital manipulation techniques were able to read i...

    September 21, 2016
  • Antarctic penguins catch new strain of bird flu

    Extreme isolation doesn't mean the frozen continent and its wildlife are completely safe from int...

    Chinstrap penguins were, last year, found to contract a type of bird flu common to North America.Wolfgang Kaehler / L...

    September 20, 2016
  • How Pluto’s big frozen heart grew and evolved

    Numerical simulations of the dwarf planet's chemistry and atmosphere show its famous glacier grow...

    This high-resolution enhanced colour view of Pluto, snapped by New Horizons in July 2015, shows the dwarf planet's he...

    September 19, 2016
  • Is this the birth of a giant icy planet?

    A gap in the dusty disc around TW Hydrae may be the result of a Neptune-like planet – and provide...

    An artist's impression of the dust disc and a forming giant icy planet, similar to Neptune, around TW Hydrae.NAOJA ga...

    September 16, 2016
  • Starving black hole quickly sends shining galaxy into shadow

    Markarian 1080's wild swings from dim to bright and back again may be due to a second supermassiv...

    This image shows the active galaxy Markarian 1018 which has a supermassive black hole at its core. The faint loops of...

    September 15, 2016
  • Pluto moon Charon’s red head tinted by trapped gas

    Methane trapped by the chilly winter night is slowly converted to tholins, crowning the moon with...

    A mosaic of images snapped by New Horizons as it approached Pluto's largest moon Charon in July 2016.NASA / Johns Hop...

    September 14, 2016
  • Epic crash vaporised baby Earth – and so the moon was born

    Super-sensitive chemical detection technique points to an incredibly violent birthday for our big...

    Chemical analyses point suggest a Mars-sized protoplanet slammed into Earth 4.5 billion years ago, obliterating vast ...

    September 13, 2016
  • How tides may tip small earthquakes into monsters

    Japanese study suggests link between the moon, sun and big earthquakes – and may help forecast th...

    The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, triggered by a massive undersea quake, tossed boats and debris across Indonesia and su...

    September 12, 2016
  • Cheers to 500 years of different beers, thanks to brewer’s yeast

    Without the humble microbe, we wouldn't have our vast array of beer, wine or bread. Geneticists t...

    Tom Kelley / Getty ImagesCrisp lager, smoky Hefeweizen or a rich, oaty stout? Whatever your beer preference, you prob...

    September 8, 2016
  • Milky Way ‘fossil relic’ is one of a kind

    Some 19,000 light-years from Earth is Terzan 5 – a globular cluster with two stellar growth spurt...

    Peering through the thick dust clouds of the galactic bulge, aastronomers revealed the unusual mix of stars in the st...

    September 8, 2016
  • Mass grave reveals secrets of ancient ‘walking fish’ childhood

    For the first time, palaeontologists uncovered the early life history of the 365-million-year-old...

    Acanthostega – part fish, part amphibian – spent around a decade as a juvenile, fossil analyses suggest.Jonathan Blai...

    September 7, 2016
  • Planet smash delivered carbon to Earth 4.4 billion years ago: study

    If carbon sizzled away during the planet's early days, where did life come from? Belinda Smith re...

    An artist's impression of a collision between a carbon- and silicon-rich planetary embryo and Earth 4.4 billion years...

    September 5, 2016
  • Drug scrubs toxic clumps from Alzheimer’s brains

    Aducanumab breaks down the harmful protein plaques that are thought to cause the neurodegenerativ...

    A computer illustration of a healthy brain cell (left), one with amyloid clumps (yellow, centre), and a dead cell bei...

    August 31, 2016
  • Milky Way bubble a ‘distant echo’ of supermassive black hole binge

    The black hole residing in the centre of our galaxy is napping, but it looks as though it woke on...

    This artist's impression shows the Milky Way as it may have appeared six million years ago. A wispy orange bubble ext...

    August 31, 2016
  • Martian moon Phobos’ grooves caused by collision debris

    Neat lines of craters etched on the moon's surface, which can't be explained by the red planet's ...

    One of Mars' two moons, Phobos.NASAStrange strings of craters etched into the largest of Mars’ moons formed when bits...

    August 30, 2016
  • Dogs can recognise half-hearted praise

    Just like humans, pooches process words in the left hemisphere of their brain and intonation in t...

    Pack of trained dogs around the fMRI they lay in while listening recordings of their trainer's voice.Enikő KubinyiDog...

    August 30, 2016
  • Gastro-causing virus needs bile to infect gut cells

    Scientists have come up with a better way to study the potentially lethal norovirus. Belinda Smit...

    Artwork shows the structure of the norovirus, the most common cause of food-borne gastroenteritis in the world.JUAN G...

    August 26, 2016
  • Intense storms shake the Earth – and unveil the planet’s layers

    Faint shudders from a distant 'weather bomb' could help scientists visualise what lies beneath. B...

    Some storms, if their pressure drops quickly enough, can produce seismic waves which tell scientists about the ground...

    August 26, 2016
  • Rocky exoplanet found in habitable zone of star next door

    Proxima Centauri hosts a world of comparable size to Earth, which is warm enough for liquid water...

    This artist’s impression shows the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri. At 4.25 light-years...

    August 24, 2016
  • Planets are born to support life – or not

    Numerical simulations suggest if a planet doesn't have the goods from the get-go, it won't sustai...

    Earth was a hot ball for a good few hundred million years before cooling – and it continues to cool today. Was it des...

    August 23, 2016
  • Jellyfish power new energy-efficient laser

    Genetically modified bacteria manufactured the key component of the device. Belinda Smith reports.

    Universal Stopping Point Photography / Getty ImagesA laser that uses glowing green proteins found in jellyfish has be...

    August 21, 2016
  • How gastro-causing virus latches onto and infects cells

    It's the most common viral cause of diarrhoea worldwide, but norovirus is notoriously tough to st...

    Cramps, nausea ... quick, get to a toilet!Jan-Otto / Getty ImagesThe dreaded gastro: it sweeps through workplaces, sc...

    August 19, 2016
  • Star snapped blasting out of hibernation in massive explosion

    A classical nova tosses and turns as it emerges from a sleepy period – but when it wakes, it does...

    Artist's portrayal of a classical nova explosion – perhaps like the one described in a new paper published today in t...

    August 18, 2016
  • Earth’s oldest ocean crust formed 340 million years ago

    During the late Palaeozoic Era, a tear appeared in the supercontinent Gondwana and an ocean fille...

    Plate reconstruction maps at 360, 340 and 320 million years ago (bottom left to upper right), around the time a new o...

    August 16, 2016
  • Hawking-like radiation spotted trickling from sonic black hole

    More than four decades after Stephen Hawking predicted black holes emit a tiny amount of radiatio...

    Black hole – or very very very dark grey hole?PASIEKA / Getty ImagesBlack holes aren’t completely black – or so says ...

    August 16, 2016
  • ‘Superlens’ can spot etches on a Blu-ray DVD

    New recipe for a cheap lens that boosts light microscope magnification five times.

    A new sprayable superlens made of transparent nanospheres can boost microscope magnification to see data grooves on a...

    August 15, 2016
  • Paraplegics regain feeling and movement, thanks to virtual reality

    After a year of training, eight people paralysed from the waist down – some for more than a decad...

    Eight people with spinal cord injuries who had spent years paralysed from the waist down regained partial sensation a...

    August 12, 2016
  • Cosmic ‘blob’ divulges supermassive black hole’s violent past

    Echoes of a quasar survive in the glow of a nearby gassy cloud. Belinda Smith reports.

    A composite image of galaxy IC 2497 (top object) and the Green Blob (bottom), which shows a remarkable change in the ...

    August 12, 2016
  • Dental plaque bacteria hitch a ride in blood to fortify colon cancer

    Mouth microbes travel through the circulatory system to give tumours at the other end of the gast...

    Fusobacteria (in red) that are instrumental in dental plaque make their way to the colon not through the stomach, but...

    August 11, 2016
  • New traps ooze human body odour to lure malaria mosquitos

    The odour-baited trap may also curb diseases such as dengue fever and the Zika virus. Belinda Smi...

    The World Health Organisation aims to stamp out malaria by 2030 – and odour-baited traps may be form of their offensi...

    August 10, 2016
  • Ancient bacteria store signs of supernova smattering

    Thanks to single-celled organisms that sequester iron in sediment, scientists have more evidence ...

    Blasts of bits from exploding stars millions of years ago may have triggered extinction events on Earth.Oliver Bursto...

    August 9, 2016
  • Search for fourth type of neutrino turns up none

    It looks as though the hypothetical 'sterile neutrino' – the Elvis of particle physics – doesn't ...

    Even data captured by the IceCube laboratory in Antarctica failed to uncover the 'sterile neutrino'.Erik Beiser / Ice...

    August 9, 2016
  • ‘Designer’ materials found deep in Siberian permafrost

    We've just discovered natural metal-organic frameworks – but scientists have been making them in ...

    Synthetic zhemchuzhnikovite. The mineral's structure is similar to that of MOFs.Igor Huskić, Friščić Research Group, ...

    August 8, 2016
  • Three types of vaccine protect monkeys from Zika virus

    Promising immunisation candidates for humans have been shown to provide full immune defences agai...

    As human trials begin, scientists are determining how much protection vaccines afford – and how much is needed – agai...

    August 5, 2016
  • Metabolic boost puts new sea otter mums at risk of death

    When lactating, a sea otter's metabolism can more than double – and this is behind their dispropo...

    Sea otters pay a hefty price for motherhood – their metabolic rate shoots up more than 50% while suckling a pup.Joe T...

    August 4, 2016
  • This is how brain cells die after concussive trauma

    Researchers snapped 3-D images of rat neurons following traumatic injury. Belinda Smith reports.

    Between head trauma – such as a punch – and permanent damage to brain cells, there may be a window when the injury ca...

    August 3, 2016
  • First chlamydia vaccine could be a jab in the nose

    A study in mice has found a promising candidate to prevent infection by the common but dangerous ...

    Colour-enhanced scanning electron micrograph of chlamydia, the most common bacterial sexually transmitted disease in ...

    August 2, 2016
  • Feeling sick at work? Your replacement is at risk

    Switching unwell staff members for healthy, fresh workers helps the flu spread faster. Belinda Sm...

    PeskyMonkey / Getty ImagesCaught a colleague surreptitiously sneezing into their sleeve, or noticed another hacking u...

    August 1, 2016
  • This is your brain under hypnosis

    The power of a hypnotic trance changes the brain in three ways.

    As your breathing slows, your arms go limp and you feel weightless under the gentle lull of a hypnotic trance, your b...

    August 1, 2016
  • Songbirds’ epic migration routes are etched in genes

    A single cluster of around 60 genes in the Swainson's thrush mostly accounts for different migrat...

    A Swainson's thrush wearing a geolocator.Kira Delmore / University of British ColumbiaThe route a tiny songbird takes...

    August 1, 2016
  • Great Red Hotspot: mega storm heats Jupiter’s upper atmosphere

    Gravity waves and sound waves coursing up from the gas giant's massive hurricane may be a solutio...

    Turbulence produced by the Great Red Spot produces gravity waves and sound waves. They combine to heat the atmosphere...

    July 27, 2016
  • A more efficient lithium-air battery

    'Solid oxygen' chemistry could overcome current drawbacks – and the researchers say they'll have ...

    In a new concept for battery cathodes, nanometre-scale particles made of lithium and oxygen compounds (depicted in re...

    July 26, 2016
  • All life today descended from a microbe, four billion years ago

    It adapted to survive in warm, oxygen-free, mineral-rich environments, perhaps similar to hot spr...

    All life on Earth is descended from single-celled, hot-water-loving organisms, similar to these Pyrococcus furiosus a...

    July 26, 2016
  • Bushfire clues dribble through cave dripwater

    Scientists can analyse stalactite layers to trace climate changes over millennia – but must watch...

    Researchers discovered stalactites, such as these in the Jenolan Caves in Australia's Blue Mountains, carry signature...

    July 25, 2016
  • New brain map unearths 97 new areas

    Powerful software helps scientists pick out specific grey matter regions – and all without openin...

    A new map of the brain based on scans of 420 people has defined 97 new functional parts of the cortex – the wrinkled ...

    July 22, 2016
  • Moon basin gouged by pieces of proto-planet

    The moon rolled with bigger punches over its life than we thought, copping a 250-kilometre-wide o...

    Imbrium Basin, the circular feature in the top half of this image, is the largest basin on the near side of the moon....

    July 21, 2016
  • Why supervolcanoes erupt with cataclysmic explosions

    Earthquake data and modelling suggest their rare but powerful outbursts may be controlled by larg...

    Russian geophysicist and artist Ivan Koulakov and colleagues have modelled magma reservoirs beneath supervolcanoes. H...

    July 20, 2016
  • Humans can see a single photon at a time

    How good are your eyes? A new study shows healthy subjects are capable of detecting as little lig...

    Science Photo Library / Getty ImagesHumans are capable of super-sight, it seems, with a new study showing subjects in...

    July 20, 2016
  • Room temperature quantum computing on the way

    Easy to make and stable enough at room temperature, are carbon nanosphere qubits the future of qu...

    Hooray for chemistry: naphthalene crystals, snapped in this polarised light micrograph, can be burnt to create carbon...

    July 19, 2016
  • Supercontinents tore apart ‘like a thick piece of dough’

    After millions of years under strain, land masses ripped apart quickly (in geological terms, that...

    Around 175 million years ago, the ancient supercontinent Pangea began to break up. New research shows how the contine...

    July 19, 2016
  • Carbon nanotube implant guides spinal nerve growth

    Artificial 'sponge' directs cellular growth between severed sections of mouse spinal cord. Belind...

    Scanning electron micrograph detailing the structure of the carbon nanotube sponge. Cells are visible invading the ar...

    July 18, 2016
  • Ironing out the mysteries of Earth’s deepest rocks

    An experiment shows the mineral bridgmanite, thought to comprise the deepest mantle, is stable at...

    An artist's impression of the Earth's layers ... but we don't have a clear idea of what's happening down there.Scienc...

    July 18, 2016
  • Ducklings: not the bird brains you thought they were

    A new study shows baby ducks can recognise concepts of 'same' and 'different' – a feat previously...

    A duckling approaches a cube and cuboid, having previously imprinted on a cone and cylinder, recognising that both pa...

    July 14, 2016
  • Star blast gives astronomers a first-time look at baby solar system ‘snow line’

    The dramatic brightening of a young star could help shape how we think planets formed. Belinda Sm...

    An artist’s impression of the water snow line around the young star V883 Orionis, as detected with ALMA.A. Angelich (...

    July 14, 2016
  • For lizards, looking good can be lethal

    Painted dragons have a trade-off between beauty and a longer life. Belinda Smith reports.

    The more vibrant Australian painted dragons tend to die younger than their duller counterparts.Martin Cohen Wild Abou...

    July 13, 2016
  • Poo transplants transfer much more than bacteria

    Viruses, fungi – even sloughed colon cells – may affect how well a faecal transplant works. Belin...

    The hodge-podge of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other bits and pieces you poo out could confer benefits to others. Ex...

    July 13, 2016
  • Did supernova radiation showers accelerate evolution?

    Muons and other particles raining from exploding stars had long-lasting effects on Earth, modelli...

    This supernova remnant – called G1.9+0.3 – exploded just 110 years ago. Earth was showered with the remains of such e...

    July 11, 2016
  • Bacteria gene may help crops soak up more sun

    Plants could boost photosynthesis with the introduction of just one gene. Belinda Smith reports.

    Synechococcus cyanobacteria – a photosynthesising bacteria – contains a gene that allows it to make molecules that ab...

    July 11, 2016
  • Does a shifty lens help octopuses see colours?

    It's a cephalopod conundrum – if they can't see it, why the lavish use of colour? Belinda Smith r...

    Octopuses, cuttlefish and squid, such as this Sepioteuthis lessoniana, can put on a colourful show, despite their eye...

    July 10, 2016
  • Introducing robo-ray: part animal, part machine

    The tiny artificial stingray is the first step to bigger, more complex tissue-engineered robots, ...

    A tissue-engineered, soft robotic ray that can be steered through obstacle courses.Karaghen Hudson and Michael Rosnac...

    July 8, 2016
  • Volcanoes weakened dinosaurs while asteroid dealt knock-out blow

    Gases spewing from inside Earth triggered a mass extinction 66 million years ago – not the meteor...

    Long, sustained outpourings of lava and gases from what is now India put ecosystems under stress before the asteroid ...

    July 6, 2016
  • Does grass hold the secret to more efficient crops?

    The more efficient leaf openings called stomata in grasses share underlying genes with broad-leaf...

    Why is Brachypodium distachyon, a relative of wheat, and other grasses so successful? It's in their genes – and when ...

    July 5, 2016
  • Where did Mars’ moons come from?

    Phobos and Deimos once had a bigger sibling, but today they're sole survivors of a huge collision...

    Colour-enhanced images of Phobos (bottom) and Deimos – the last remaining Martian moons. Phobos measures around 20 ki...

    July 4, 2016
  • Our primitive solar system was a mixed bag of ice and rock

    'Time capsules' in stony meteorites show evidence of low-velocity collisions. Belinda Smith reports.

    Magnetite-bearing chondrules – the small, round 'droplets' found in the stony meteorites that are among the oldest so...

    July 4, 2016
  • Scientists discover new ‘dark’ state of hydrogen

    The most abundant element in the universe comes in metallic and molecular forms ... and now, a th...

    A cutaway of gas giant Jupiter, which is thought to comprise a rocky core surrounded by metallic hydrogen and a layer...

    June 30, 2016
  • The ambitious missions to bring asteroid rocks to Earth

    Pieces of the early solar system are locked away in asteroids but getting to them – and back – is...

    An artist's impression of the Japanese Hayabusa 2 spacecraft sampling the surface of asteroid Ryugu.JAXAFive billion ...

    June 30, 2016
  • Asteroid barrage warmed young Earth and encouraged life

    Modelling suggests giant impacts topped up the planet's atmosphere to keep it warm under a weak s...

    An artistic illustration showing how the early Earth might have looked under bombardment, with circular impact featur...

    June 28, 2016
  • Opal found in Antarctic meteorite

    Planetary scientists show, for the first time, the gemstone in a chunk of asteroid. Belinda Smith...

    An image of a narrow opal rim surrounding a bright metallic mineral inclusion in a meteorite found in Antarctica. The...

    June 27, 2016
  • Juno’s epic journey to probe Jupiter’s secrets

    It's been a 2.8-billion-kilometre trip to Jupiter for NASA's Juno spacecraft. Belinda Smith expla...

    Jupiter, king of the Roman gods, wanted to hide a few indiscretions. So, the story goes, he shrouded himself in cloud...

    June 27, 2016
  • Hair and feathers evolved from reptile scales: study

    You can thank a distant reptilian ancestor for your luscious locks. Belinda Smith reports.

    A normal bearded dragon, showing a full array of pointy scales.Michel C. Milinkovitch 2016What can naked lizards teac...

    June 27, 2016
  • Does this exercise protein boost your brain power?

    Cathepsin B, a molecule released by muscles during exercise, appears to be linked to new cell gro...

    After exercising in a running wheel, month-old neurons (green) are seen in the hippocampus of an adult mouse.Henriett...

    June 23, 2016
  • Colliding black holes were once stellar giants

    Astrophysicists predict we'll learn something new with each gravitational wave detection – and we...

    An artist's impression of a binary star system – perhaps like the stars that produced the colliding black holes and g...

    June 22, 2016
  • Aircraft vapour trails beef up – and brighten – clouds

    Soot dropped from exhaust may 'seed' ice crystals and cool the planet below. Belinda Smith reports.

    Josef P. Willems / Getty ImagesThat aircraft zooming overhead may be helping cool the planet by making clouds bright,...

    June 22, 2016
  • How to build a diamond factory

    Scientists unravelled a Botswanan diamond's history – all the way to its birth. Belinda Smith rep...

    Diamonds such as this 100-carat beauty are the most prized gemstones in the world, but exactly how they form deep in ...

    June 21, 2016
  • Giant baby planet found orbiting an infant sun

    A two-million-year-old star has been discovered already with a close 'hot Jupiter' companion. Bel...

    A newborn giant planet, such as this illustrated here in an artist's impression, has been found closely orbiting the ...

    June 20, 2016
  • How stars blossomed after the baby universe’s ‘dark ages’

    A clear signal of oxygen 13.1 billion light-years away gave astronomers a glimpse of the early co...

    An artist's concept of SXDF-NB1006-2. Bright young stars in the galaxy ionise surrounding gas. Green indicates ionise...

    June 20, 2016
  • Slick new surface wicks oil in one direction

    Clogged nozzle? This new surface may mean no more blockages. Belinda Smith reports.

    Completely self-cleaning and lubricating machinery could benefit from a new surface developed in Finland.Christian La...

    June 20, 2016
  • Mystery meteorite found fossilised in quarry rocks

    This space rock, unlike any other, gives planetary scientists a glimpse at the early solar system...

    The Oesterplana 065 fossil meteorite (dark grey) lodged in red limestone. The pale grey halo is where oxygen in the l...

    June 16, 2016
  • More gravitational waves as black holes clash

    It seems we really are awash with gravitational waves, with a second detection just three months ...

    Two black holes, crashing into each other 1.4 billion light-years away, sent gravitational waves which hit us late la...

    June 16, 2016
  • ‘Handed’ molecule found in space – what’s the big deal?

    For the first time, a molecule that can exist left or right-handed has been detected outside our ...

    The "handed" molecule propylene oxide was detected in our galaxy, the Milky Way, in Sagittarius (Sgr) B2. Sgr A* poin...

    June 15, 2016
  • Curiosity uncovers Mars’ explosive volcanic past

    Drill samples from Gale Crater show the Red Planet's history wasn't all slow, blobby lava flows. ...

    Olympus Mons – the solar system's tallest volcano.NASAIt boasts a volcano more than twice the height of Mount Everest...

    June 14, 2016
  • Planning a trip? Scans show how your brain plots the route

    Magnetic resonance imaging reveals the multitude of brain regions involved in navigation – from t...

    'So ... which way now ... ?'Westend61 / Getty ImagesDo you get frustrated retracing your steps to the car in a multi-...

    June 10, 2016
  • Carbon emissions turn to stone after two years underground

    An Icelandic power plant has an effective, safe and permanent way to store carbon underground. Bu...

    Solidified carbonate, precipitated from carbon dioxide, in basalt rock.Kevin Krajick / Lamont-Doherty Earth Observato...

    June 10, 2016
  • Supermassive black hole found guzzling cold clumpy gas

    Contrary to traditional theories, black holes don't survive on hot meals alone. Belinda Smith rep...

    An artist's impression of a small cluster of giant gas clouds raining on the black hole in the heart of the Abell 259...

    June 9, 2016
  • Space-based gravitational wave detector one big step closer

    The LISA Pathfinder exceeded expectations – and after only a couple of months. Belinda Smith repo...

    An artist's impression of LISA Pathfinder, which just successfully tested a key technology needed to build a gravitat...

    June 8, 2016
  • High-fat Mediterranean diet does not lead to weight gain: study

    Low-fat diets have been extolled by dieticians and doctors for decades, but obesity rates keep cl...

    Olive oil is loaded with 'good fats' which, according to a new study, don't automatically translate to weight gain.DE...

    June 7, 2016
  • Galactic ‘superwinds’ fling heavy metals into deep space

    It turns out galaxies throw out star-building and planet-producing materials. Belinda Smith reports.

    Spiral galaxies such as the Milky Way are shown in the centre, surrounded by the circumgalactic medium (black). But t...

    June 6, 2016
  • Magma chamber grows beneath New Zealand

    Yes, there seems to be a massive reservoir of hot rock building up below the North Island, but it...

    Champagne Pool in Rotorua, New Zealand. Beneath the area lies a growing reservoir of magma, new research suggests.PIS...

    June 6, 2016
  • Core conundrum: how old is Earth’s magnetic field?

    Without its iron core's geodynamo, Earth's magnetic field wouldn't exist. But exactly how long it...

    Convection currents in the liquid iron outer core (yellow) transport heat to the mantle (orange) and produce the plan...

    June 2, 2016
  • Pluto’s icy heart churns like a lava lamp

    Two studies calculate that the dwarf planet pumps out enough heat to produce the polygon pattern ...

    The shapes tiling the surface of Pluto's heart-shaped patch are produced by fresh nitrogen ice churning up from benea...

    June 2, 2016
  • Asteroids, not comets, delivered most water to the Moon

    'Dirty snowballs' ferried less than 20% of lunar water – carbonaceous chondrites did the bulk of ...

    An artist’s illustration of what the lunar magma ocean may have looked like shortly after the formation of the Moon.N...

    June 1, 2016
  • Ancient crops tell Madagascar’s history of colonisation

    Archaeologists finally have physical evidence that settlers from Southeast Asia colonised the Afr...

    Analyses of rice from Madagascar and surrounding islands showed it probably came with Southeast Asian settlers, while...

    May 31, 2016
  • Algal ‘dirty blizzard’ helped scrub Deepwater Horizon fallout

    Contaminants from the 2010 disaster remained in waters of the Gulf of Mexico months afterwards – ...

    The oily waters of the Gulf of Mexico sported an iridescent rainbow sheen from the dispersant used to break up the cr...

    May 31, 2016
  • Rosetta finds ingredients for life in Comet 67P’s halo

    Glycine and phosphorus, key components of DNA and cell membranes, have been discovered at Comet 6...

    Pre-biotic chemicals – that is, those needed for life – have been detected in the coma of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasim...

    May 30, 2016
  • How Zika virus infiltrates the placenta

    It causes birth defects including microcephaly, but how Zika manages to make the jump from mother...

    Zika virus causes microcephaly in foetuses with an infected mother. How the virus crosses the placenta, though, has b...

    May 30, 2016
  • Monster black holes may be behemoths from birth

    Exactly how supermassive black holes became so big so quickly has had astronomers stumped. Italia...

    Artist’s impression of a possible supermassive black hole seed.NASA / CXC / M. WeissMonster black holes may have rece...

    May 27, 2016
  • Icy moons cracked by short sharp tidal tugs: study

    Simulations show a close call with a similar object can tear an icy moon's crust. Belinda Smith r...

    The New Horizons spacecraft snapped this image of Charon, Pluto's largest moon, as it flew by in July 2015.NASACracks...

    May 26, 2016
  • Hot winds from supermassive black holes stunt star growth

    'Red geysers' heat surrounding galactic gas, putting the brakes on stellar birth. Belinda Smith r...

    An artist's rendition of galaxies Akira (right) and Tetsuo (left) in action. Akira's gravity pulls Tetsuo's gas into ...

    May 26, 2016
  • Groovy light-absorbing films could boost night vision

    Infrared technology may become a lot cheaper and easier to use. Belinda Smith reports.

    Thin grooves, etched in a film, direct light sideways. The end result? Almost all light is absorbed. A smooth layer, ...

    May 26, 2016
  • ‘Fresh’ craters spotted on the Moon’s bottom

    An instrument that sees in the dark using UV light from distant stars has uncovered some recent a...

    Some parts of the Moon are in perpetual darkness. Now scientists can inspect those regions using starlight.NASA / BIL...

    May 25, 2016
  • Solar ‘superflares’ fostered life on Earth: study

    NASA scientists propose an answer to the 'faint young Sun' paradox. Belinda Smith reports.

    A daily dose of particles sprayed from the young Sun could have produced molecules necessary for life on early Earth ...

    May 24, 2016
  • Recipe for 5,000-year-old Chinese beer unearthed

    Researchers suggest the amber liquid was a social lubricant all those millennia ago too. Belinda ...

    TETRA IMAGES / GETTY IMAGESIt’s not quite the simple German recipe of hops, barley, water and yeast, but 5,000-year-o...

    May 23, 2016
  • Why is Antarctica’s sea ice spreading as the Arctic’s shrinks?

    The health of sea ice between the poles couldn't be more different. The extremes, US researchers ...

    Older, rougher and thicker Antarctic sea ice in the Bellingshausen Sea in October 2007, within the sea ice shield sur...

    May 23, 2016
  • Meteorites whipped up mega-tsunamis on Mars

    Catastrophic floods, triggered by comets and asteroids smashing into young Mars, helped shape the...

    Part of the Chryse Planitia, an ancient section of Mars' surface. This image was snapped by the Mars Reconnaissance O...

    May 19, 2016
  • Chemists sniff out fake Parmesan cheese

    Italian researchers found a way to spot the dodgy stuff. Belinda Smith reports.

    Wheely tasty: true Parmesan must meet certain requirements and now, chemists can analyse samples to see if they're th...

    May 19, 2016
  • How supernovae get a boost of brilliance

    Astronomy's "standard candles" appear to have a bit of slow-burning fuel to keep them brighter, l...

    Remnant of Kepler's supernova, a Type Ia supernova, discovered by Johannes Kepler in 1604. NASA / CXC / NCSU / M.BURK...

    May 19, 2016
  • Haumea’s mysterious moons

    Does the dwarf planet host tiny satellites – and if so, where are they? Belinda Smith reports.

    An artist's concept of Haumea and its moons, Hi'aka and Namaka.NASADwarf planet Haumea is a strange little object. Li...

    May 18, 2016
  • Rise of the Pleiades dates ancient Greek poem

    Greek poet Sappho left cosmological clues in her famous Midnight Poem. Now 2,500 years after her ...

    The Pleiades, a star cluster 436 light-years away, viewed by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer. NASA / JPL-C...

    May 16, 2016
  • How microbes gain a foothold in mucous

    Some bacteria have evolved nifty tricks to stick to slippery surfaces. Belinda Smith reports.

    Upon infection with bacteria (red), mucosal cells usually lift away. Some bacteria, though, force them to stick.P. Mu...

    May 13, 2016
  • Dancing dung beetles capture mental maps of the sky

    With a twirl, a dung beetle trundles off in a straight line with its precious meal. But how does ...

    How do these dung beetles know which direction to roll their meal?Karine Aigner / Getty ImagesA dung beetle's twirl a...

    May 13, 2016
  • Bacteria, not fungi, behind dandruff severity: study

    It's long been thought a fungal disease, but evidence is starting to point at a bacterial imbalan...

    Half the population gets dandruff. New research shows bacteria might shoulder some of that blame.powerofforever / Get...

    May 12, 2016
  • Lava and meteorites unveil ancient Earth’s atmosphere

    Contrary to widespread belief, our planet's atmosphere 2.7 billion years ago contained oxygen – a...

    One of 60 micrometeorites extracted from 2.7-billion-year-old limestone from the Pilbara region in Western Australia....

    May 12, 2016
  • NASA tracks microbial tenants on the Space Station

    Geneticists explore how bacteria, fungi and viruses change in microgravity. Belinda Smith reports.

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    May 10, 2016
  • Turbulent mantle nudges Earth’s crust up and down

    How the thickness of the sea floor changed over time has shown geophysicists that the planet is m...

    Computer artwork of a section through the Earth, showing the movement of molten rock in the mantle. New research show...

    May 10, 2016
  • Silky sheen keeps fruit firm and fresh

    Shelf-life of strawberries and bananas can be dramatically extended – all thanks to silk. Belinda...

    Imagine if they tasted as fresh two weeks after being picked? – TAYLOR DAVIDSON / EYEEMFruit dipped in edible silk pr...

    May 9, 2016
  • Astronomers precisely ‘weigh’ a supermassive black hole

    Cold gas provides a handy and accurate way to size up monster black holes in the centre of distan...

    Combined image of NGC 1332 shows the central disk of gas surrounding the supermassive black hole at the centre of the...

    May 9, 2016
  • White blood cells fix busted blood vessels

    Chinese scientists watched macrophages 'glue' severed arterioles to stop microbleeds in the brain...

    White blood cells are the janitors of your circulatory system. They mop up debris and invading pathogens – and now, a...

    May 6, 2016
  • Watch a robot operate more competently than a surgeon

    The STAR surgeon can minimise human error and boost surgical safety, its inventors say. Belinda S...

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    May 5, 2016
  • Starspots seen on zeta Andromedae

    The star's internal processes are different from our Sun's. Probing them may provide glim...

    A close-up timelapse image of the fast-rotating star zeta Andromedae. Starspots can be seen clearly. – Rachael Roette...

    May 4, 2016
  • Introducing inkjet-printed disposable lasers

    Inkjet printers can be adapted to a whole host of uses outside the office. Now, they've been ...

    The humble inkjet printer can create organic laser components so cheaply, easily and efficiently, the parts can be sw...

    May 4, 2016
  • Ultracool dwarf hosts three planets – and they might be habitable

    Our best bet for finding life outside our Solar System lies with a recently spotted planetary tri...

    This artist’s impression shows an imagined view from close to one of the three planets orbiting an ultracool dwarf st...

    May 3, 2016
  • Boiling water may trigger dry avalanches on Mars

    Rather than trickling streams, salty streaks on Mars may be caused by the explosive effects of ev...

    Dark salty streaks that grow on slopes on Mars in warmer months might be helped along by evaporating water causing mi...

    May 2, 2016
  • How peacocks hypnotise the ladies with tail shakes

    The eyes of a peacock's magnificent tail seem to hover in place while the rest of the feather...

    Roslyn Dakin / YouTube A courting peacock's eye spots are a captivating sight, seemingly floating in pl...

    May 2, 2016
  • Being asleep or awake may hinge on brain salts

    How brain cells regulate waking and snoozing is still mostly a mystery. A new study shows decidin...

    When this mouse wakes, its brain will flood with calcium and magnesium ions. – Oktay Ortakcioglu / Getty Images ...

    May 2, 2016
  • Bearded dragons have REM sleep – and may even dream

    No longer the domain of just birds and mammals: slow-wave and rapid eye movement sleep have been ...

    Do lizards dream? They very well might – rapid eye movement (REM) and slow-wave sleep, once thought only to be found ...

    May 1, 2016
  • Carbon nanotube ‘wires’ self-assemble in electric field

    Introducing 'Teslaphoresis', where a Tesla coil and antenna remotely force powdered carbo...

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    April 28, 2016
  • NASA juggles 22 drones in the air at the same time

    A traffic management platform built by NASA engineers has passed this test with flying colours. B...

    Jacob Moschler, operations and data analyst at the University of Maryland Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site, launch...

    April 27, 2016
  • Fighting tooth and nail? Kinetic energy is key to a successful strike

    How the tiniest stings can puncture flesh comes down to simple physics. Belinda Smith reports.

    Some snakes, such as this sedge viper, rely on their speed to pierce the skin of their prey. But they're not the fast...

    April 27, 2016
  • Hubble spots tiny moon orbiting dwarf planet Makemake

    A dark satellite's been hiding in the glare all along. And now it's discovered, it can te...

    An artist's concept of Makemake and its moon, nicknamed MK 2. They are more than 50 times farther away than Earth is ...

    April 27, 2016
  • New imaging technique brings Mars into focus

    Drone-quality images of the Martian landscape from 24,000 kilometres above are now possible, than...

    Mars' surface area is 145 million square kilometres. Now a new technique can scrutinise that surface to five-centimet...

    April 26, 2016
  • Ancient stars whiz haphazardly around Milky Way bulge

    They're more than 10 billion years old, but RR Lyrae stars' non-conformist behaviour can ...

    The Milky Way galaxy, shown here in an artist's impression, houses some of the oldest stars in the Universe – more th...

    April 26, 2016
  • How to cook up asteroids on Earth for space mining gear tests

    The OSIRIS-REx mission to return samples from an asteroid will cost nearly $1 billion, and to mak...

    The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will head to an asteroid in September – but first, it needs to see how it fares on asteroid...

    April 24, 2016
  • Watch a solar flare unfold in high resolution

    They have the power to knock out GPS and communications systems on Earth, but solar flares are tr...

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    April 24, 2016
  • Venus Express unveils surprising polar atmosphere

    A few months before losing contact, the Express spacecraft dipped into Venus' polar atmospher...

    An artist's impression Venus Express during the aerobraking manoeuvre, during which the spacecraft orbited Venus at a...

    April 21, 2016
  • How bright can a supernova shine?

    Ultraluminous supernovae, which blaze hundreds of times brighter than a standard exploding star, ...

    Exploding stars can blaze with the fire of a trillion Suns, but do have a limit to their brightness, according to a p...

    April 20, 2016
  • Fossilised hearts found in prehistoric fish

    Scans of ancient fish suggest vertebrate hearts were more complicated back then than they are tod...

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    April 20, 2016
  • The chameleon’s ballistic tongue, unravelled

    Mathematicians modelled the mechanics of the lizard's super-speedy tongue flick. Belinda Smit...

    The blisteringly quick flick of a chameleon's tongue can accelerate to 100 kilometres per hour in one hundredth o...

    April 20, 2016
  • Were dinosaurs already on the way out when the asteroid hit?

    A new study shows there were fewer dinosaur species evolving prior to their extinction 66 million...

    Dinosaurs were well past their prime when a meteorite hit Earth 66 million years ago and finished them off, new resea...

    April 19, 2016
  • Cassava’s genetic map hints at cyanide secrets

    Cassava is a staple crop for many countries but is susceptible to pests and disease, and without ...

    Cassava grows well in nutrient-poor, dry soils. But its genome has been largely ignored by the research world – until...

    April 19, 2016
  • High-energy neutrino nabbed by Antarctic detector

    They're the most high-energy particles in the Universe, but neutrinos also incredibly elusive...

    The IceCube laboratory at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. Buried detectors picked up the most powerful neutrin...

    April 18, 2016
  • Composite metal foams shield against bullets, radiation and heat

    It's a simple concept – a layer of metal dotted with hollow spheres – but composite metal foa...

    Hollow spheres in metal foams can be embedded in a couple of ways: encasing pre-made spheres with a powdered version ...

    April 18, 2016
  • How to kill Zika mosquitos with old tyres

    Hitting mosquitos where it hurts – their eggs – is one way of controlling pesticide-resistant ins...

    The traps are made from two 50-centimetre pieces of tyre and fluid valve. – Daniel Pinelo A simple, cheap t...

    April 17, 2016
  • Parasitic worms remodel human gut microbiome – for the better

    It appears the humble roundworm can calm an irritable bowel and influence its microbial populatio...

    In a parasitic paradox, intestinal worms might actually be good for you. A new study shows roundworm infection promot...

    April 15, 2016
  • Flexible lenses for printable, elastic cameras

    A team of engineers in the US envisions huge cameras printed like plastic sheets. First, though, ...

    The new lens array is made from silicone and automatically adjusts when curved. – Columbia Computer Vision Laboratory...

    April 14, 2016
  • Thick-skinned bed bugs beat insecticides

    New research shows insecticide-resistant bed bugs have a natural shield. Belinda Smith reports.

    Bed bugs with thicker exoskeleton seem to be most resistant to insecticides, according to new research. – David Lilly...

    April 14, 2016
  • Supernova scraps found on the Moon

    More research emerges suggesting the Solar System was sprinkled with fallout from a nearby explod...

    Moon rocks collected by Apollo missions hint at a neighbouring star exploding two million years ago, showering the So...

    April 14, 2016
  • Why are these supermassive black holes aligned?

    Jets blasting from 64 supermassive black holes in a distant patch of the Universe appear to be li...

    A deep radio map covering the ELAIS-N1 region with aligned galaxy jets circled in white in the image on the left. – R...

    April 12, 2016
  • Most sea-level rise since 1970 due to greenhouse gas emissions

    In the first half of the 20th century, our effect on sea levels was outweighed by natural variati...

    Humans are responsible for around 70% of sea-level rise since 1970, new research shows.Climate scientist Aimée Slange...

    April 12, 2016
  • Planet Nine takes shape

    The Solar System is huge – it extends way past Pluto into light-year territory. So if a planet or...

    Simulated structure of Planet Nine: a rocky core surrounded by ice and gas. – Esther Linder / Christoph Mordasini / U...

    April 11, 2016
  • Fifth time lucky: SpaceX lands rocket on ocean platform

    A historic landing for reusable rockets, but it's not been a smooth ride. Belinda Smith reports.

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    April 11, 2016
  • Crude oil blasted into space to study Earth’s depths

    An experiment in the sky will unpick the apparently gravity-defying behaviour of oil reservoirs k...

    The Soret Coefficient in Crude Oil experiment, consisting of six sturdy cylinders, each containing a millilitre of cr...

    April 7, 2016
  • Lonely monster black hole lurking in cosmic backwaters

    A sleeping giant has been uncovered in a galaxy four million light-years away. So how did it get ...

    The massive elliptical galaxy NGC 1600 in the centre of this image, taken by the Digitized Sky Survey, is in an unclu...

    April 7, 2016
  • How exploding stars shape life – and death – on Earth

    Studies show our planet copped a smattering of supernova shrapnel twice in the past few million y...

    Scraps flung from nearby exploding stars rained down on Earth twice in the past 10 million years, a pair of studies i...

    April 6, 2016
  • Doctors trial an alternative to statins

    A new class of cholesterol-lowering drugs called PCSK9 inhibitors is showing promise. But don&#39...

    Muscle symptoms are most commonly linked with simvastatin, which is marketed as Zocor (among other names). – Photo R...

    April 6, 2016
  • Comet and asteroid barrage may have given Martian life a leg-up

    Where Earth nurtured life, Mars (as far as we know) has not. But a seemingly destructive event so...

    Young Mars' blitz by comets and asteroids hundreds of kilometres in diameter likely made the planet more habitabl...

    April 6, 2016
  • Calcium: expanding the chemical repertoire for grid-scale batteries

    Rechargeable liquid-metal batteries, suitable for large-scale power storage, are yet to hit the m...

    An artist’s rendering of a calcium liquid battery. – Christine Daniloff / MIT Large-scale power storage is...

    April 4, 2016
  • Giant lasers could cloak Earth from alien eyes

    While we actively search for signs of life on other planets, who says ET isn't doing the same...

    To render Earth invisible to extraterrestrial eyes, powerful lasers may do the trick, say astronomers from Columbia U...

    April 4, 2016
  • Play hide and seek with these masters of camouflage

    The animal world never fails to amaze – particularly when it comes to hiding in plain sight. Beli...

    We may marvel at the brilliantly changing hues of an octopus and the subtleties of the stick insect, but camouflage i...

    April 4, 2016
  • No Moon, no magnetic field, no life on Earth: study

    The Earth's core should have dropped 3,000 ºC, but the Moon's kept it warm for the past f...

    More than four billion years ago, the Moon and Earth were both molten rock. The Moon has since solidified, but may be...

    April 1, 2016
  • How butterflies control their twisty-turny flight

    Don't be fooled by the seemingly drunken flight of a butterfly – it's all under control. ...

    Butterflies are master flight manipulators. Their erratic bobbing and weaving has a purpose – to shake off predators ...

    April 1, 2016
  • A better beer filter, thanks to fish mouths

    How filter-feeding fish avoid getting clogged has, until now, been a mystery. Belinda Smith reports.

    Filter-feeding fish tend to cruise around, letting water flow in their mouths and pass over special structures that p...

    March 31, 2016
  • Big brown bats hear perfectly well after noisy blasts

    Bats' hearing can cut through the chatter. In fact, it seems to improve with increased backgr...

    The noisy big brown bat's hearing is remarkably resilient. – G Ronald Austing / Getty Images We've all ...

    March 31, 2016
  • Spaceflight turns up genes that stunt hair growth

    Living in zero gravity while being bombarded with radiation can be a real drain on astronauts&#39...

    NASA astronaut and mission specialist Tracy Caldwell, brushing her hair on the mid-deck of the Space Shuttle Endeavou...

    March 30, 2016
  • Ocean temperatures predict US heat waves seven weeks ahead

    Warm water sloshing across the tropical Pacific Ocean can spell the difference between deluge and...

    American heat waves can be predicted up to 50 days in advance, simply by taking the temperature of the North Pacific ...

    March 30, 2016
  • Fracking behind most earthquakes in Western Canada

    Only around 10% of earthquakes in oil-rich Western Canada are due to natural causes, and scientis...

    Hydraulic fracturing – injecting fluid under high pressure to break rock and release trapped oil and gas – is respons...

    March 30, 2016
  • Enceladus’ plumbing explains ‘tiger stripe’ geysers

    The Cassini spacecraft watched ice and vapour gushing from scratches on the bottom of Saturn'...

    Enceladus' distinctive pattern of continuous, slightly curved and roughly parallel faults within the moon’s southern ...

    March 29, 2016
  • Ancient faint galaxy is a heavy element factory

    The heaviest elements, such as gold and lead, aren't made by nuclear fusion – they're pro...

    The ultra-faint Reticulum II galaxy with its nine brightest stars circled in red. The insets show the very strong pre...

    March 29, 2016
  • A hot mess: mathematically mapping the Sun’s magnetic field

    The Sun's magnetic field is a giant mess of loops on a small scale, with large-scale poles th...

    There's no other way to phrase it: at first glance, the Sun's magnetic field is a mess.Unlike Earth's rel...

    March 27, 2016
  • Handheld biopen can ‘draw’ stem cells in 3-D

    Good news for people with dicky knees: a new surgical device fills in cartilage gaps with a mix o...

    Orthopaedic surgeon Claudia Di Bella said the biopen 'was comparable to handling any other surgical instrument'. – Ca...

    March 24, 2016
  • Mould power might build better batteries

    When you need electrochemically active materials, why not get nature to do the hard work? Belinda...

    A light micrograph of a type of red bread mould, Neurospora crassa. – Robert Knauft / Biology Pics / Getty Images ...

    March 23, 2016
  • Supernova shockwave caught in visible light for the first time

    Astronomers snapped the initial blast of an exploding star in visible light – a sight previously ...

    A shockwave blasted from a giant exploding star has been spotted in visible light for the first time.The Kepler space...

    March 23, 2016
  • ‘Smell of fear’ part of the brain found

    Scientists engineered and injected viruses into brains of mice to see how sniffing a predator tri...

    A mouse creeps through a field under the cover of darkness. Suddenly, the unmistakable whiff of a fox wafts by. Insta...

    March 22, 2016
  • ‘Twin’ comets will brush past Earth this week

    Get set for the third-closest comet flyby in recorded history. Belinda Smith reports.

    Telescopes at the ready: stargazers are treated to a double delight this week as two comets brush past Earth in one o...

    March 21, 2016
  • Young star caught cooking up planets

    Astronomers peered at a young star and, for the first time, saw the earliest stages of planet for...

    This image compares the size of the Solar System with HL Tauri and its surrounding protoplanetary disc. Although the ...

    March 20, 2016
  • New Horizons exposes Pluto’s quirks

    In this latest slew of data, we learn more about the dwarf planet's eclectic geology, atmosph...

    The more we discover about Pluto, the weirder it gets. New research shows the dwarf planet is home to tall mounds tha...

    March 17, 2016
  • Global warming will dump rain on dry areas – but not in a helpful way

    With global warming comes extreme weather – we've known this quite some time. But while wette...

    Desert areas can expect more days of extreme rainfall this century. – Dave and Les Jacobs / Getty Images Ne...

    March 17, 2016
  • Right-leg amputee athletes may have an edge over left-leg amputees

    Which leg a sprinter is missing could spell the difference between a medal and a non-podium finis...

    Paralympians with a right-leg "blade" may have a 0.2-second advantage over a 200-metre race compared to those with le...

    March 17, 2016
  • Snapping shrimps silenced as seas acidify: study

    If you've ever heard crackling while underwater in the sea, you've probably heard the cho...

    Snapping shrimp use their oversized claw to communicate and stun – even kill – prey. But as oceans acidify, their sna...

    March 16, 2016
  • Red flashing black hole bit off more than it could chew

    Black holes, like us, occasionally binge-eat. Analysing the scraps can hint at cosmological secre...

    An artist's impression of a black hole, similar to V404 Cyg, devouring material from an orbiting companion star. – E...

    March 16, 2016
  • First liquid fuel rocket launched 90 years ago

    On his Aunt Effie's farm in 1926, Robert Goddard launched the first liquid-fuelled rocket – a...

    Robert Goddard stands next to his first liquid-fuelled rocket prior to its launch on 16 March 1926. – Clark Universit...

    March 16, 2016
  • ExoMars blasts off to seek life on the Red Planet

    With a flash of orange under an overcast sky, a rocket blasted off from a Kazakhstan cosmodrome y...

    ExoMars 2016 lifts off on a Proton-M rocket at Baikonur cosmodrome on March 14, 2016 in Kazakhstan. – Stephane Corvaj...

    March 15, 2016
  • Rare gene variant found turns ‘good’ cholesterol bad

    Good cholesterol scoops damaging, bad cholesterol out of the bloodstream, but for some people unl...

    'Good' cholesterol – shown here as the smaller molecule – latches onto and drags its bigger, 'bad' counterpart to the...

    March 11, 2016
  • The incredible – and bizarre – spectrum of animal colour vision

    A common butterfly has five times as many types of colour-sensing cells in their eyes as us. Why ...

    The natural world is awash with colour – the dazzling plummage of parrots, vast fields of wildflowers. But we humans ...

    March 11, 2016
  • World Go champ beaten twice by AI – can he redeem himself?

    Google Deepmind's AI program AlphaGo triumphed over the European Go champion last year and is...

    All smiles before the match: Google Deepmind head Demis Hassabis (left) shakes hands with South Korean professional G...

    March 10, 2016
  • Particles bouncing off Solar System edge give clues of magnetic fields beyond

    Astrophysicists get a peek at the magnetic forces that press against our part of the galaxy, than...

    Far beyond the orbit of Neptune, the solar wind and the interstellar medium interact to create a region known as the ...

    March 10, 2016
  • Why are crows so smart?

    In fact as smart as a seven-year-old human.

    They can recognise faces, use tools – even drop nuts on a road for cars to crack (then pick them up with the safety o...

    March 9, 2016
  • To change a violin’s tone, fiddle with its varnish

    Traditional violin varnishes mixed up by German master crafters include amber, dragon's blood...

    Applying varnish to a violin alters the vibrations absorbed by the wood, therefore affecting the instrument's sound q...

    March 9, 2016
  • Bionic fingertip lets amputee feel texture

    It's easy to take our super sensitive, nerve-rich fingertips for granted. But for amputees, b...

    "Yeah. That was amazing."These are words from amputee Dennis Aabo Sørensen, the first person to feel texture using a ...

    March 8, 2016
  • Mercury’s dark secret: an ancient carbon-rich crust

    It's the smallest planet in the Solar System but home to a massive mystery: why is Mercury so...

    This enhanced-colour image highlights Mercury’s low-reflectance material, which appears blue, and its association wit...

    March 8, 2016
  • Work in a big team? You’re doing less than you think

    When your manager asks you and your colleagues to give 110%, this is not what she means. Belinda ...

    Can you accurately judge how much you contribute to group work? A study has found that members of bigger groups infla...

    March 8, 2016
  • How to have a long, hot shower – without the guilt

    Love standing under a scorching shower for ages but hate wasting water and power? A new device re...

    Robin Skjoldborg / Getty Images Hot jets of water blasting your scalp and massaging the back of your neck w...

    March 7, 2016
  • What’s behind Titan’s mysterious bright ‘magic island’?

    Eight years of Cassini photography has uncovered a strange region brightening and growing on Satu...

    Changes in the 'magic island', a feature in a hydrocarbon sea on Saturn's moon Titan, is likely caused by waves, scie...

    March 6, 2016
  • Tapeworms protect sea monkeys from arsenic poisoning

    In the 'survival of the fattest', tiny crustaceans infected by tapeworm larvae grow blobs...

    Artemia shrimp infected by tapeworm larvae contain carotenoid-rich lipid droplets, induced by the parasite. – Marta S...

    March 4, 2016
  • Octopus-inspired colour-changing skin that can sense touch

    Octopuses have truly incredible skin, capable of changing colour within a fraction of a second. N...

    Octopus skin is pretty amazing stuff, and researchers have tried to emulate its colour-changing capabilities. – Alexa...

    March 4, 2016
  • Manmade noise pollution reaches the deepest ocean

    Scientists eavesdropping on the deepest part of the world's oceans were surprised by a cacoph...

    Looking for a silent spot to get away from it all? You might think the deepest ocean is a good contender, but that&#3...

    March 3, 2016
  • Watch: the slo-mo ‘pogo’ flight of a water lily beetle

    These little insects hoon across water's surface at a blistering pace. Now researchers have d...

    .embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed...

    March 3, 2016
  • Five new uses for miracle material graphene

    Graphene – a single-layer lattice of carbon atoms – is yet to make the jump from laboratory to da...

    Graphene has been described as a revolutionary material, and when you know what it can do, it's not hard to see w...

    March 2, 2016
  • Study plucks out genes for monobrow and grey hair

    Pesky grey hair got you down? Hairline receding? Got a monobrow to rival Bert from Sesame Street?...

    Stressheads, your hair colour is one less thing to worry about: a new study shows that going grey is at least partly ...

    March 2, 2016
  • Gas giants and mini meteoroids relieve gravitational tension

    When it comes to a stable Solar System, size – or a variety of sizes – does matter. Belinda Smith...

    Our Solar System is a mixed bag of objects whizzing round the Sun, varying from the mega gas giants to miniature mete...

    March 1, 2016
  • Squid sucker ‘teeth’ are strong, stretchy

    They melt when heated and harden when cool ... but aren't synthetic plastics. They're pro...

    They look as though they belong in a B-grade horror film, but the rows of "teeth" in squid suckers do have a purpose....

    March 1, 2016
  • How droplets bead on ultra-waterproof surfaces

    Researchers have imaged water drops rolling along a super-waterproof surface in unprecedented det...

    A bead of water, almost completely spherical, sits on a superhydrophobic surface. These surfaces can be used for any ...

    February 29, 2016
  • Supernova ‘standard candles’ not so standard after all

    They're used in astronomy to measure the expansion of the Universe and probe dark energy, but...

    Kepler’s supernova remnant, shown here in a combination of X-ray and optical wavelengths, is a remnant from a Type Ia...

    February 29, 2016
  • The art and beauty of mathematics

    Why couldn't high school mathematics be more like this? Basic concepts and equations produce ...

    9,000 Ellipses (1) – Hamid Naderi Yeganeh These delicate shapes aren’t whimsical penstrokes on a canvas han...

    February 29, 2016
  • Want to learn to fly like a pro? Zap your brain

    Running a low-level electric current through your brain might not sound like the smartest idea, b...

    Recording what goes on under a pilot's helmet and transmitting those brain signals to a novice can increase learning,...

    February 26, 2016
  • Pluto’s scarred north pole laid bare

    New Horizons' snapshots of the dwarf planet's pole shows an ancient cracked landscape bla...

    The cracks and canyons traversing Pluto's northern pole were snapped by New Horizons' Ralph/Multispectral Visible Ima...

    February 26, 2016
  • Black holes stash matter in cosmic voids

    Vast vacant slabs of space, stretching millions of light-years wide, comprise around 80% of the U...

    Supermassive black holes are responsible for banishing almost a fifth of "normal" matter into intergalactic voids, co...

    February 25, 2016
  • Nothing but the tooth: a simple rule for our ancestors’ molar size

    You might not think you could extract much about a whole species from a single tooth, but a new s...

    From the size of an isolated hominin tooth (in white), the sizes of the remaining primary teeth (in green) can be pre...

    February 25, 2016
  • Holy crab! Fear can be used to restore ecosystems

    Putting the fear of dog into raccoons has effects that trickle all the way down the food chain. B...

    A raccoon foraging on red rock crabs in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia. All native large carnivores have been r...

    February 24, 2016
  • Space-time warping black holes may be twins

    When two black holes collided 1.3 billion light-years away, the force of the explosion sent gravi...

    They're the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen of astronomy circles. The black holes that literally made waves in space-t...

    February 24, 2016
  • No gears, no gasoline, no problem: check out this hydrogen-powered car

    With only 18 moving parts, the Riversimple Rasa is simple to say the least ... but a little hydro...

    Riversimple Rasa A Welsh startup last week unveiled a working prototype of a zero-carbon-emission, hydrogen...

    February 23, 2016
  • Fuel from the air using the power of the Sun

    Scientists made hydrocarbons in one step using carbon dioxide and steam – and a little help from ...

    Oil platforms, such as this in Alaska, might one day make way for Sun-powered fuel production. Thanks to new research...

    February 23, 2016
  • Russian missiles to blow asteroids to bits

    A few tweaks to intercontinental ballistic missiles in time for a close flyby of asteroid Apophis...

    With nearly 13,000 asteroids hurling around our part of the Solar System, one will hit us eventually. Will we be read...

    February 22, 2016
  • Bat-inspired morphing drone takes wing

    You may have read about robotic whiskers inspired by seals and turbine-silencing coatings, thanks...

    Bats are able to change the shape of their wings – and now a drone can too. – VICTOR HABBICK VISIONS / getty images ...

    February 22, 2016
  • Not full of hot air: the physics of blowing bubbles

    A brainwave in a park led to a complete theory of bubble-blowing. Belinda Smith explains.

    Eugenio Marongiu / Getty images Blowing soap bubbles is, quite literally, child’s play – but the physics un...

    February 22, 2016
  • Drones learn to search forests for lost hikers

    Each year, thousands of hikers and bushwalkers go missing in the wilderness. Now Swiss and Italia...

    With the new drones, missing persons can be found and rescued quickly in forests and mountain areas. – UZH/USI/SUPSI ...

    February 19, 2016
  • Pluto’s moon Charon busted out of its skin

    New analysis of Pluto's largest moon adds weight to the idea that Charon once contained an oc...

    This image focuses on a section of the feature informally named Serenity Chasma, part of a vast equatorial belt of ch...

    February 19, 2016
  • Four ways to make money from gravitational wave tech

    The instruments that detected gravitational waves were so sensitive, they could measure a stretch...

    There's no doubt the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) L-shaped detectors that pick...

    February 18, 2016
  • Humans and Neanderthals – long-term lovers

    We know the Neanderthals interbred with humans – their DNA lives on in us. But a new study shows ...

    More than 100,000 years ago, modern humans ventured out of Africa and proceeded to bump uglies with Neanderthals as t...

    February 17, 2016
  • Watch a brain-hijacking parasite sneak its way in

    Toxo infects up to half the world's population, but exactly how it breaches the fort separati...

    That bold mouse might be riddled with Toxo ... and now we have some idea how the parasite attains its mind-controllin...

    February 17, 2016
  • Finding gravitational waves in space

    We've picked up gravitational waves on Earth, now astrophysicists intend to do the same from space.

    Overnight, a spacecraft 1.5 million kilometres from Earth quietly released two metal cubes – and in doing so, passed ...

    February 16, 2016
  • Secrets of Australia’s marsupial lion revealed

    The marsupial lion could hunt down and tear apart a rhinoceros-sized mammal. Now, a new study sho...

    Australia’s largest and most ferocious land predator just got scarier.Thylacoleo carnifex, the "marsupial lion" that ...

    February 16, 2016
  • How to send a satellite abroad and prepare it for launch

    When a satellite is built in France but launched in Russia, moving it can be a logistical nightma...

    The first of the European Sentinel-3 Earth-observation satellites, Sentinel-3A, will be shot into Earth orbit tomorro...

    February 15, 2016
  • ‘The success is very sweet’: gravitational wave triumph in quotes

    The team behind the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in the US announce...

    The collision of two black holes holes – a tremendously powerful event detected for the first time ever by the Laser ...

    February 12, 2016
  • Gravitational waves – your questions answered

    Rumours abound that elusive gravitational waves have been detected. But what are they, and why sh...

    An image produced by researchers who crunched Einstein's theory of general relativity on the Columbia supercomputer a...

    February 11, 2016
  • How sperm become disease-causing selfish mutants

    The older the father, the higher chance of having a child with a rare disease – and a lot comes d...

    Dr. David Phillips / Getty Images If you're a man reading this, chances are you have mutant sperm. Mayb...

    February 10, 2016
  • Sleep deprivation tied to false confessions

    Drowsier people are more likely to put their name to something they've not done, but individu...

    KatarzynaBialasiewicz / Getty Images Ever put salt in your tea instead of sugar after a sleepless night?In ...

    February 10, 2016
  • Hundreds of hidden galaxies spotted behind the Milky Way

    On a clear night, our own galaxy is a brilliant streak of stars across the sky. But it’s a right ...

    Our galaxy is hurtling through space at two million kilometres per hour, inexorably drawn to a mysterious region with...

    February 10, 2016
  • How much ice can Antarctica afford to lose?

    The belt holding in Antarctica's ice stocks is slowly loosening, but a new study has identifi...

    The ice front of Fleming Glacier, which fed the former Wordie Ice Shelf, and broke up towards the end of the 1990s. P...

    February 9, 2016
  • How a ‘little’ ice age shaped civilisation

    Abrupt climate cooling, thanks to volcanic eruptions, accompanied widespread societal changes acr...

    A cluster of volcanic explosions in the sixth century didn’t just shake up the climate – they also brought on massive...

    February 9, 2016
  • Damage maps could help in future earthquake relief

    NASA technology designed to deliver emergency assistance where it is needed the most. Belinda Smi...

    This image shows street-level photos in the Bhaktapur area of Nepal overlaid on a damage proxy map derived from satel...

    February 8, 2016
  • Not all trees are equal in the fight against carbon

    Europe’s replacement forests aren't half as good at cooling the planet as the old broad-leafe...

    Planting a spruce tree – it's better than nothing but not so good as broad-leafed forests. – Avalon_Studio / Getty Im...

    February 8, 2016
  • Why do some people go bald?

    The jury's still out, but a new study adds weight to damaged genes. Belinda Smith reports.

    SensorSpot / Getty Images Losing your luscious locks is, for many men and women, an unavoidable part of age...

    February 5, 2016
  • Is Antarctica gaining or losing weight?

    Scientists have come up with vastly different measures of Antarctica’s ice sheets. Belinda Smith ...

    Icecap on the Wohlthat Mountains in Queen Maud Land. – Keith Ladzinski / Getty Images Antarctica keeps thr...

    February 4, 2016
  • Real culprit behind deep earthquakes found

    For decades, the mineral antigorite has been blamed for ‘intermediate depth earthquakes’. Now res...

    The mineral lawsonite undergoes brittle failure at high temperature and pressure, as evidenced by the cracks seen in ...

    February 4, 2016
  • Saturn’s rings perplex astronomers – again

    The gas giant’s brightest ring is lighter – and younger – than first thought. Belinda Smith reports.

    Saturn's B ring is the most opaque of the main rings, appearing almost black in this Cassini image taken from the unl...

    February 4, 2016
  • Ship noise may muffle killer whales’ chatter

    Noise in shipping lanes overlaps with orcas’ hunting clicks, writes Belinda Smith.

    As if endangered southern resident killer whales didn’t have it tough enough already, new research shows the noise fr...

    February 2, 2016
  • Burps from the Earth to predict volcanic blasts

    Nailing down the timing of a volcanic eruption is tricky, but gases hissing from vents might be t...

    The Solfatara, a shallow volcanic crater in the Phlegraean Fields in Campania near Naples. – DEA/ARCHIVIO J. LANGE/G...

    February 2, 2016
  • Could plastic pollution spell the end of the oyster?

    Microplastics are wreaking havoc with reproduction. Belinda Smith reports.

    Get 'em while you can. Pacific oysters are delicious but the plastic waste we're slinging into the oceans meddles wit...

    February 2, 2016
  • Abigail Allwood: Tooling up for Mars

    Abigail Allwood has designed an instrument that will search for life on the Red Planet. Belinda S...

    Abigail Allwood sat in her stiflingly hot car and screamed with joy. Parked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pa...

    February 1, 2016
  • Did a lack of culture kill off the Neanderthals?

    New model suggests faster development put Homo sapiens at an advantage, leading to their ultimate...

    The evidence suggests that Neanderthal culture remained static. – Lambert / ullstein bild / Getty Images Wh...

    February 1, 2016
  • Timeline: a stroll through 50 years of weather satellites

    Weather emergencies can quickly become weather catastrophes on a densely populated, warmer Earth....

    The blizzard that clobbered the eastern United States two weeks ago dumped more than a metre of snow in parts with 11...

    January 31, 2016
  • All systems Go! But what is it like to play against a computer?

    The artificial intelligence program that thrashed a human player at the complex strategy game Go ...

    Machines have bettered man at checkers and chess ... and now Go appears conquered. – Flickr/Reilly Butler C...

    January 30, 2016
  • Was the Moon born in a head-on collision?

    The high-speed crash that scientists think formed the Moon may have been less a side-swipe and mo...

    A close-up of lunar rock from the Apollo 17 mission. Its oxygen 'fingerprint' matches that of Earth rocks. – Paul War...

    January 29, 2016
  • Is this giant supernova a new type of cosmic object?

    Earlier this month, the biggest explosion ever recorded was dubbed a ‘superluminous supernova’. N...

    An artist's impression of the record-breakingly powerful superluminous supernova, as it would appear from an exoplane...

    January 25, 2016
  • How did the disastrous spread of feral cats begin?

    The mega moggies devouring Australia’s wildlife are part of the First Fleet’s legacy. Belinda Smi...

    Australian feral cats can reach two metres from head to tail and can fell a wallaby. They have a reputation for decim...

    December 18, 2015
  • Unravelling Jupiter’s giant storms

    The forces driving Jupiter's wild weather are better understood. Belinda Smith reports.

    Ever since Giovanni Cassini pointed his telescope at Jupiter in the mid-17th century and saw a massive red hurricane,...

    December 14, 2015
  • What happens if the permafrost disappears?

    If the Arctic permafrost thaws, the results could be catastrophic.

    Carbon levels are rising but things are starting to look a lot worse. Climate scientists such as Columbia Universi...

    December 14, 2015
  • Science portraits: biologists

    Three young scientists and what inspires them, by Belinda Smith.

    Vanessa Kellermann is studying how insects adapt to climate change. – Peter Tarasiuk Vanessa Kellermann, e...

    December 9, 2015
  • Mars is ripping its moon apart

    Phobos will eventually disintegrate and form a ring around the red planet. Belinda Smith reports.

    Naming the red planet for the god of war was a prescient move. But naming it for Hercules, the god who slaughtered hi...

    December 7, 2015
  • An early warning system for solar flares

    A solar flare can potentially knock out modern life. Belinda Smith reports on a way to save elect...

    In 1859, Earth was attacked from space. A solar flare burst from the Sun, hitting the Earth with such power, the nort...

    November 30, 2015
  • Where did Earth get its water?

    Did comets really fill our planet's oceans, or has Earth's water been here all along? Bel...

    NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman tweeted this photo from the International Space Station: "My favorite views from #space –...

    November 23, 2015
  • Can corals survive in warmer seas?

    Some corals are better adapted than others to live through a heat wave. Scientists wanting to sav...

    The diverse corals on Australia's Great Barrier Reef are endangered by climate change. Scientists are hoping to help ...

    November 16, 2015
  • Did a missing trace element trigger mass extinctions?

    Selenium shortages coincide with species collapse. Belinda Smith explains.

    The Himalayan mountains rise because two tectonic plates are grinding together. The activity leaves selenium traces i...

    November 16, 2015
  • Creating a blacker black

    A new dark material absorbs up to 99% of visible light, and could be used on stealth technology a...

    Black just got a whole lot darker. Researchers from Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology...

    November 9, 2015
  • Two stars locked in a cosmic kiss

    But what happens when the honeymoon is over? Belinda Smith reports.

    This artist’s impression shows VFTS 352 – the hottest and most massive double star system to date where the two stars...

    November 2, 2015
  • A new way of defining temperature?

    Tracking caesium atoms is a precise way of measuring heat. Belinda Smith explains.

    Australian scientists have suggested a new sophisticated means of determining temperature. – David Malan / Getty Ima...

    October 26, 2015
  • Dinosaurs fell victim to a one-two punch

    Volcanoes and an asteroid made for a deadly team that ended the era of giant reptiles. Belinda Sm...

    Flying reptiles watch a large asteroid slam into the Earth. The impact triggered a chain of events that ultimately wi...

    October 12, 2015
  • Using nature’s genius to fight malaria and river blindness

    Drugs that can outwit tropical parasites earned their discoverers the Nobel prize. Belinda Smith ...

    What do a Japanese golf course and an ancient Chinese remedy have in common? Not much, until the announcement of the ...

    October 12, 2015
  • Massive galaxies rob gas from little neighbours

    Astronomers discover why the biggest galaxies keep getting bigger. By Belinda Smith.

    At the heart of the Phoenix Cluster (shown), giant galaxies are growing at a prodigious rate, birthing hundreds of ne...

    October 5, 2015
  • Metal paint that reveals the rusty patches

    A new paint that glows to highlight metal corrosion could make flying safer. Belinda Smith reports.

    A molecular sensor in Vanessa Lussini's paint lights up when the metal underneath is corroding. – Vanessa Lussini ...

    September 21, 2015
  • Why do cats have slit-shaped eyes?

    Pupil shape reveals prey or predator in animals.

    Ever wondered why cats have vertical slit-shaped pupils, while sheep have horizontal bars? A recent study suggests it...

    September 21, 2015
  • Fire fountains on the Moon

    Moon rocks gathered by Apollo astronauts have been re-analysed and tell the story of a fiery yout...

    A 'fire fountain' at Hawaii's Volcano National Park gives an idea of what the Moon's fire fountains looked like in it...

    September 14, 2015
  • Ice shelves are disappearing

    The polar landscape is changing. Belinda Smith reports on shrinking ancient ice shelves.

    An ice-breaker in the Ross Sea, Antarctica. Sea ice is proliferating even as ice shelves are melting. – UIG-si-001 / ...

    September 14, 2015
  • Hunting for dark energy

    Dark energy causes the Universe to expand but nobody knows what it is. So how do you find out? Be...

    It seems an impossible task. How do you detect a force you know next to nothing about? But this is exactly what physi...

    September 7, 2015
  • The strange case of the speeding supernovae

    What causes a star to zoom across space and then explode? Belinda Smith explains.

    A merging galaxy, also known as NGC 6240. It is believed that rogue exploding supernovae can be flung out of these m...

    September 7, 2015
  • Captured: antimatter from the centre of the Earth

    Physicists are probing the secrets of the planet’s inner workings by capturing elusive antimatter...

    The middle layer of our planet is a mystery. It makes up 84% of the Earth’s volume, but we’ve little idea what’s in t...

    August 31, 2015
  • The Universe is slowly fading away

    Researchers have predicted how long we have until the last star in the Universe finally flickers ...

    Astronomers peering out into the deepest corners of the Universe have found its expiration date, stamped into the lig...

    August 24, 2015
  • Robotic whiskers to sniff out danger

    Robot researchers study seals to devise sensors that can track air or water flow. By Belinda Smith.

    Seals, like this South African fur seal, use their sensitive whiskers to help them track fish in murky waters. – Wes...

    August 17, 2015
  • Earth’s early magnetic field locked in 4.2-billion-year-old crystals

    Ancient zircon crystals suggest Earth’s protective magnetic field is much older than previously t...

    An artist's depiction of Earth's magnetic field deflecting high-energy protons from the Sun four billion years ago (n...

    August 10, 2015
  • A cure for the second-biggest killer of horses

    An equine physiologist identifies a marker for a deadly disease. By Belinda Smith.

    Martin Sillence with Dove, a pony participating in clinical trials to treat Equine Metabolic Syndrome and prevent lam...

    August 3, 2015
  • How the Texas horned lizard harvests water on its skin

    The spiky reptile has found a unique way to drink in the desert. By Belinda Smith.

    The Texas horned lizard has a network of micro-channels concealed in its skin, that funnel precious desert water into...

    August 3, 2015
  • The black hole that has outgrown its galaxy

    A distant ancient galaxy has been discovered with a freak black hole far bigger than it should be...

    An illustration of a feeding black hole. Most galaxies have a black hole at the centre, but one galaxy has been found...

    July 27, 2015
  • Awed by a magnetar

    Astrophysicists have detected one of the brightest and most enigmatic objects in the Universe. Be...

    An illustration of a gamma-ray burst (white line) and supernova (red cloud) powered by a magnetar. – European Souther...

    July 20, 2015
  • Turbine blades inspired by owls

    The owl's ability to fly silently makes it a formidable hunter. Engineers are now adopting fe...

    The owl's wing feathers are uniquely adapted for noiseless flight. – Universal Images Group/Getty Images O...

    July 13, 2015
  • Measuring the sixth mass extinction

    How can we trust recent claims Earth is on the brink of a sixth mass extinction, when we can’t sa...

    The Earth teeters on the edge of a sixth mass extinction – or so a recent study published in Science Advances has cla...

    July 6, 2015
  • Tracking the violence in the Sun

    Coronal mass ejections from the Sun can wreak havoc on Earth. Belinda Smith reports.

    A composite image of the solar corona on 7 January 2014, taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory. The brightly glowin...

    June 8, 2015
  • A lifelong flu shot moves closer

    Measles research helps scientists working on a universal flu vaccine. Belinda Smith reports.

    Immunologists hope their growing understanding of the flu virus might mean that one day we can have a flu shot that w...

    June 1, 2015
  • The most ancient evidence of life on Earth?

    Ancient bacteria in Pilbara rock are merely volcanic minerals, scientists say. Belinda Smith repo...

    The worm-like shapes in the rock are described in text books as the oldest form of life ever found on Earth. But not ...

    May 25, 2015
  • A leap forward in the hunt for Earth-like planets

    A new technique for studying distant worlds looks set to help scientists narrow the search. Belin...

    Artist's impressions of how exoplanets may appear are based on data that is difficult to collect. – NASA Tw...

    May 18, 2015
  • El Niño is back – better get used to it

    As a new El Niño event takes hold, Cosmos explains the mechanics of this extreme weather event an...

    Basic climate change science is simple: rising CO2 levels trap heat and warm the planet. The devil is in the detail –...

    May 18, 2015
  • Solving the global water crisis with bubbles

    Introducing a cheap, efficient way to clarify waste water. By Belinda Smith.

    This portable dissolved air flotation unit can clarify 500 litres of water an hour. – Belinda Smith By 2030...

    May 11, 2015
  • Radio interference wreaks havoc with telescopes

    Technology makes life easier for most – but not so much for radio astronomers. Belinda Smith expl...

    The Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia is the largest steerable radio telescope in the world. To protect the obser...

    May 4, 2015
  • From the frontline: stalking a feral predator

    There’s more to eradicating Australia’s feral cats than meets the eye. Belinda Smith reports.

    Feral cats have wiped out at least 22 mammal species in Australia. – Tim Doherty / ECU If you own one of th...

    April 27, 2015
  • Blue light to replace a little blue pill?

    A new therapy jump-starts male members. By Belinda Smith.

    A new blue light therapy for erectile dysfunction works in rats, but not all researchers are convinced humans will re...

    April 13, 2015
  • The secret signal in a peacock’s tail

    Peacocks use their tail feathers to emit a sound so low-pitched humans can’t hear it. Belinda Smi...

    The peacock’s shimmering blue and green tail plumage is one of the most dazzling sights in the animal kingdom – and t...

    March 30, 2015
  • Puzzles posed by a chilly northern winter

    Climate scientists are divided about what caused the massive winter snow storms in the US. Belind...

    A massive snowfall in February almost blocks access to this home in Kittery, Maine. – Derek Davis/Portland Press He...

    March 23, 2015
  • Chimps learn to grunt with a Scottish ‘accent’

    Dutch chimpanzees transferred to a Scottish zoo changed the pitch of their grunts to fit in with ...

    A study of chimpanzee vocalisations suggests a shared accent is important for forging and maintaining group relations...

    February 23, 2015
  • An immune system that grows with experience

    It turns out genes are not the reason some people are better than others at fighting infections. ...

    B-cells are one of the key fighting forces in the body’s immune army. Identical twins show differences in the types ...

    February 9, 2015
  • Chocolate: decadent, delicious… and good for your brain?

    Two human studies add to the evidence that flavanols are brain-boosters. Belinda Smith reports.

    As if we needed another reason to eat chocolate – two studies show that flavanols, a compound found in cocoa, reverse...

    January 29, 2015
  • ‘Lazy’ pitcher plants catch more ants

    Carnivorous plants lure more prey when they intermittently ‘switch off’ their traps. Belinda Smit...

    Nepenthes rafflesiana allows its pitchers to dry for part of the day, a finding that puzzled botanists. – istockphoto...

    January 27, 2015
  • The unbeatable poker-playing program

    Artificial intelligence knows when to hold ’em and fold ’em better than any human. By Belinda Smith.

    A royal flush is about the only way you are likely to beat the Cepheus program at poker. – istockphoto When...

    January 19, 2015

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