Discover (42)

Why Do Meteoroids Explode in the Atmosphere?

On February 15, 2013, a near-Earth asteroid with a diameter of 66 feet entered Earth's atmosphere traveling at around 40,000 miles per hour . Within a few seconds, the cosmic projectile detonated 12 miles above the Chelyabinsk region of Russia, releasing as much energy as about 30 Hiroshima atomic ...

Amber Preserves Tick On Dinosaur Feather

Turns out even dinosaurs got ticked off. A nearly 100 million-year-old piece of amber has preserved a tick latched onto a dinosaur feather, the oldest such preserved specimen of the parasite everyone loves to hate. Additional ticks found in related pieces of amber provide more evidence that the ...

Star Wars Droids Top Sci-Fi Robots Survey

Disney seems to have a lock on many of the more popular science fiction robots between owning Lucasfilm's Star Wars franchise and the beloved animation studio Pixar. A recent survey of Americans found that the Star Wars robot duo of R2-D2 and C-3PO topped the choices of people's ...

What Do the Last Words of Death Row Inmates Tell Us?

Any last words? It's a question prisoners on death row hear before their execution begins. Along with last meals and long cell block walks, the opportunity to give a final statement has become deeply ingrained in the highly ritualized process of executing prisoners. Most prisoners take the ...

Poison Frog's Homing Skills Baffle Scientists

When researchers deposited the little fanny-pack-wearing amphibians deep in the jungle, they were already planning a rescue mission. The poison frogs were disoriented, half a mile from home, and in dense underbrush they'd never seen before. Yet, impossibly, the frogs turned themselves in the ...

Was The Thylacine Doomed Even Before Humans Arrived in Australia?

The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, went extinct in the 1930s after a concerted eradication campaign by humans. But a new study suggests that the marvelous marsupial native to Australia may have been in trouble long before then. Among recently extinct animals, few capture the imagination quite like ...

Indigenous People are Deploying Drones to Preserve Land and Traditions

Indigenous tribes from the Pacific Northwest to the Amazon Basin face a similar set of challenges: How to manage their lands, defend against corporate encroachment and document historic and religious sites for future generations. Often working with limited resources, many indigenous groups are ...

The secret to getting your cat to poop out its hairballs? Beet pulp.

Here's a paper with a title that reads like poetry: "Beet pulp intake and hairball faecal excretion in mixed-breed shorthaired cats". Laugh if you want, but if you've ever had a cat with hairballs, anything that gets them to poop them out instead of puke them up is pure poetry. Let's just hope the ...

This is among the most appalling satellite images of a wildfire that I've ever seen

The obscuring smoke from the Thomas Fire — now 70 percent as large as L.A. — smothers a large swath of SoCal's coast. I've seen my share of satellite images of wildfires. And whether it has been the size, the intensity, or the massive spread of billowing smoke, quite a few have horrified me. ...

Stay warm with winter projects from home!

This week we are highlighting projects that help advance research on penguins, seals, the Antarctica and more. Cheers! The SciStarter Team FjordPhyto Maria Stenzel This one involves a little travel to an unexpected biodiversity "hot" spot: Antarctica. This project connects you with teams of ...

Never Pop a Zit With Woodcarving Tools

Let's preface this whole story with a disclaimer: It's never really a good idea to pop a pimple. But, if you must, absolutely do not use a dirty woodworking blade. How do we know? Because a 23-year-old man from Chicago did exactly that, and paid a gruesome price. According to a case report published ...

We Can Do Better Than Road Salt

Marshes, streams and lakes lie alongside many of the roads and highways that zigzag across North America. Plants and animals inhabit these water bodies and can be exposed to many of the substances we put on those roads, including road salt. Rock salt helps keep roads safe when winter storms hit, ...

Why Does Gravity Travel at the Speed of Light?

The dead cores of two stars collided 130 million years ago in a galaxy somewhat far away. The collision was so extreme that it caused a wrinkle in space-time — a gravitational wave. That gravitational wave and the light from the stellar explosion traveled together across the cosmos. They arrived ...

Let's Talk About the Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom Trailer

First off, don't get me wrong, I love crazy geo-related films. I'm not going to pull a Neil DeGrasse Tyson here and take all the fun out of a movie because it is horribly, fantastically wrong when it comes to the science ... but maybe we need to have a few words about Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. ...

For Homo Sapiens, This Is as Good as It Gets

Well, that's it. Pack it in, boys. Show's over for us as a species: We've peaked. At least, we might have, according to a paper in Frontiers in Physiology. If anything, it looks like we might be going downhill, with climate change and other environmental effects taking our bodies away from their ...

An animation of nighttime satellite images shows the start and breathtakingly rapid spread of the first SoCal wildfires

A second animation shows the giant smoke plume from the Thomas Fire illuminated by this week's supermoon as it streams over the Pacific Carl Engelking, Discover's online editor, has put together a gallery of scarily dramatic images of the SoCal wildfires as seen from space. With that in mind, I ...

Flashback Friday: The scientifically-proven method for getting your bartender's attention.

We've all been there: waiting at the bar, dying for a drink, but unable to catch the bartender's attention. It's easy to assume that we are being served by a crappy bartender. But maybe it's us. Maybe we're the ones not giving the right signals that say Beer me! Now!'. This is actually the best-case ...

The Remarkable "Curvature Blindness" Illusion

A new optical illusion has been discovered, and it's really quite striking. The strange effect is called the 'curvature blindness' illusion, and it's described in a new paper from psychologist Kohske Takahashi of Chukyo University, Japan. Here's an example of the illusion: A series of wavy ...

Smoke billowing from rampaging California wildfires streams across ~1,000 miles of the Pacific Ocean

As I'm writing this post on Thursday night, tens of thousands of homes in Southern California are threatened by raging wildfires. And with a forecast calling for bone dry humidity and gusty winds through Sunday, relief is not yet in sight. The total acreage burned so far in Southern California is ...

We're Throwing Away Too Many Viable Kidneys, Study Suggests

Researchers found that thousands of potentially usable kidneys have gone to waste across the United States in recent years, leaving many patients waiting unnecessarily for transplants. The study, published Thursday in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, highlights ...

Aliens in the Mist

What would happen if we found an intelligent alien civilization that was less advanced than our own? I posed this as a hypothetical question in a recent blog post. But really, it doesn't need to be posed as a hypothetical. The answer is playing out right now in the forests of Africa, and it doesn't ...

Why Does Coffee Make You Poop?

You may consume coffee to get your day started, as a pick-me-up, or to get you through a lengthy meeting. You may also drink it to, perhaps, get things moving along on schedule. About 29 percent of people claim they felt the urge to poop after drinking coffee, according to a commonly cited study ...

It's Official: Timeline For Human Migration Gets A Rewrite

The wealth of new paleoanthropological, archaeological and genetic evidence has passed the tipping point: In a review published today in the prestigious journal Science, researchers acknowledge that the conventional timeline of human migration out of Africa "can no longer be considered valid." The ...

Mark Your Calendars for a Superb Geminid Meteor Shower

The stars — or at least the Moon — will align this month for a terrific display of meteors. The Geminid shower ranks as both the richest and most reliable of the annual meteor showers. It peaks the night of December 13/14 under a slim crescent Moon, whose feeble light won't interfere even after ...

Large-scale Genetic Study Helps Untangle Male Sexuality

While the discussion of nature versus nurture' dominates many areas of scientific research, the debate is particularly contentious when it comes to the origin of sexual preference. However, multiple studies have found links between DNA and homosexuality. Building on this foundation, a new ...

Wrinkled Fingers Might Be Your Body's Rain Treads

Pruny fingers, they're an unavoidable byproduct of a long bath or a turn washing the dishes. Though they may seem like little more than the puzzling cost of getting our hands wet, the phenomenon could actually be helping us keep a tight grip on those wine glasses. If you've never thought about it, ...

The bad news: your ice cubes are full of bacteria. The good news: we know how to kill it!

Yup, you read that right: according to this study, the ice you make in your freezer is full of bacteria, and some of it is the bad kind. Store-bought ice isn't too bad, but you might want to be suspicious about the ice from your local watering hole. The good news is that many drinks we pour over ...

The Dreadful Enormity of Southern California's Wildfires

Space imagery reveals the scale of wildfires raging in SoCal.

Saving Sea Turtles Through Community Litter Cleanups

By: Christi Hughes In January 2016, a young sea turtle named Grace was found floating cold and listless next to a dock in Awendaw, South Carolina. She was rescued by compassionate locals to the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Care Center™ for life-saving medical treatment. Grace, who was the ...

Plate Tectonics on Europa Boost Odds for Finding Life

On Earth, the theory of plate tectonics describes the way large pieces of the planet's crust move and interact. These pieces, or plates, slide over the mantle, the malleable outer layer of Earth's core. Now, new research indicates that the frozen surface of Europa, one of Jupiter's four largest ...

Scientists Crack the Mystery of an Exploding Egg

Scientists had an explosive mystery on their hands. A man suing a restaurant claimed an egg he bit into detonated loudly enough to damage his hearing. Was this a legit complaint, or an attempt to capitalize in a litigation-happy culture? Well, after a scientific investigation, the man's story is ...

Duck, Duck, Dinosaur! Meet Halszkaraptor, A Mongolian Mash-Up

If it looks like a duck...it may be a curious new dinosaur, Halszkaraptor escuilliei. The Mongolian maniraptor is a mouthful to say and a, uhm, glory to behold. But the most interesting thing about it is how it apparently lived. Fossiliferous Mongolia has given dinosaur enthusiasts a trove of ...

Love at First Sight? Nah

Cynics rejoice — the oft-reported phenomenon of love at first sight is more akin to lust at first sight. Psychologist Florian Zsok and colleagues from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands recently published a study that found even though people generally do believe they're experiencing ...

Can One Eruption Trigger More? My Top 5 Volcano Myths

Whenever volcanoes are in the news, I see a lot of wild rumors roaming the interwebs. The worst kind are those that try to sow panic and fear amongst the people living near an erupting or potentially erupting volcano by either spreading false news or sensationalizing the events. Sometimes it is more ...

Predicting Suicide: Return of a Scandal

In the first post in this series, I looked at the work of Swedish psychiatrist Lars Thorell, who has developed a test which, he claims, is able to predict suicides in depressed patients. Thorell's test is called electrodermal orientation reactivity , and while Thorell's work on the technique goes ...

All Things Iron from the Bronze Age Had Cosmic Origins

Looks like King Tut's space dagger wasn't so special after all. The legendary Egyptian pharaoh was found last year to have been buried with a dagger forged from a meteorite, a truly cosmic artifact fit for a king. Well, as it turns out, pretty much everything made of iron from that period came from ...

Do Robots Deserve Human Rights?

When the humanoid robot Sophia was granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia—the first robot to receive citizenship anywhere in the world—many people were outraged. Some were upset because she now had more rights than human women living in the same country. Others just thought it was a ridiculous PR ...

Good News! Worms Make Babies in 'Martian' Soil

Worms can not only survive in faux Martian soil — they can start a new generation. That's the conclusion from biologist Wieger Wamelink who recently discovered two baby worms in his simulated Mars soil experiment. Since 2013, scientists from Wageningen University & Research have been growing ...

If You Stuck Your Head in a Particle Accelerator...

What happens when you stick your head inside a particle accelerator and get hit with a beam of trillions of protons? Well, if you're Anatoli Bugorski, you go on to finish your PhD. Bugorski is the only person known to have been exposed to a particle accelerator beam, the result of an accident that ...

If Your Pet Has This Tapeworm, It Could Kill You

Dogs are sending us an early warning signal about the spread of a potentially deadly tapeworm in North America. The tapeworm, Echinococcus multilocularis, is normally found in rodents and other wild animals, including coyotes and foxes, but can spill over into cats and dogs — and even humans. In ...

Artificial Intelligence Gives Drones Abilities We've Only Dreamed About

George Matus was still in high school when he began raising millions for his startup, Teal. The former quad drone racer's pitch to investors was a wish list of what he thought a drone should be. More than just an aerial camera, his quad would be freaky fast and easy to use — even fly in the rain. ...

In the Ocean, a Preview of Life on Enceladus?

Unexplored deep waters in the Atlantic Ocean could offer a preview of life—if it exists—on other moons and planets.