jessica gibson

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River of hydrogen flowing through space

A faint, tenuous filament of gas streaming into galaxy NGC 6946. It might help explain how some spiral galaxies keep up their pace of star …

Universe

What can Dick Swaab tell us about sex and the brain?

Controversy delights Dick Swaab; brains delight him; complexity delights him, though I don't know if you'd get that from reading his book, We Are Our Brains, in which causal links are made quite casually, like a man doing a crossword with a pencil.<p>The Dutch neurologist is, after a 50-year career, a …

When intensive care is just too intense

The treatment patients receive in intensive care usually works but many are left with deep psychological scars<p>I still remember the first patient I saw in intensive care. A naked man, covered by a white sheet, was plugged into banks of machines through cables that radiated from his body. His face …

The British amateur who debunked the mathematics of happiness

Nick Brown does not look like your average student. He's 53 for a start and at 6ft 4in with a bushy moustache and an expression that jackknifes between sceptical and alarmed, he is reminiscent of a mid-period John Cleese. He can even sound a bit like the great comedian when he embarks on an …

2 of the Most Common Substances on Earth Are Anomalies

Solids are heavier than liquids, as a rule—because they are denser, as a rule. Two exceptions to this rule are, incidentally, the most abundant …

The NSA Collects 200 Million Random Texts A Day

wtf so random<p>According to a report just released by <i>The Guardian</i>, the National Security Agency has been collecting and storing 200 million text messages a day--at random, according to leaked documents--in the hopes of tracking down undesireables.<p>Sinister PowerPoint? Yes, sinister PowerPoint! This …

Surveillance

Why Are These Stars Fleeing The Milky Way?

A new class of speedy rogue stars are accelerated by an unknown force.<p>Astronomers have discovered a new class of potential hypervelocity stars that could suggest an alternative escape route from the galaxy.<p>Hypervelocity stars are so called because, uh, they travel really fast—enough to break free …

Universe

This African Fish Can Catch and Eat Flying Birds

There were rumors that the African tigerfish could catch and eat flying birds, but it hadn't been proven until now.<p>Birds sometimes eat fish. This we know. In my mind's eye I can picture a bald eagle majestically scooping a salmon from the water. But this ain't that. This is about fish eating flying …

Environment: News & features

Scientists Baffled by Mysterious Force Tossing Stars Out of Our Galaxy

Something is hitting stars in our Milky Way galaxy with such force that they are reaching the million-plus mile-per-hour velocity needed to break …

Mystery Gas Cloud On Course To Enter Supermassive Black Hole At Milky Way's Heart

The result could be a boom or a sizzle.<p>Astronomers expect a mysterious gas cloud to cross paths with the black hole at the heart of the Milky Way galaxy in the next few months. Then, one of two things could happen. The cloud could plunge on in, throwing off intense X-rays as it goes. Or, if the …

Black Holes

Robotic probe to awaken for comet rendezvous, landing

(Reuters) - After a 10-year journey, Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft is due to end its hibernation on Monday and prepare for an unprecedented mission to orbit a comet and dispatch a lander to the surface.<p>Rosetta’s on-board alarm clock is due to go off at 5 a.m. EST (1000 GMT), but it will take the …

An Infection Turns Swarming Locusts Into Solitary Grasshoppers, Study Finds

It's as if eating an undercooked hamburger could transform a human hardcore partier into a hermit.<p>The difference between a locust and a grasshopper is at once great and maybe much, much less than you'd think. I'll let this <i>Aeon</i> magazine article explain:<p>At the front of the room, a bug-obsessed …

National Academy of Sciences

Hubble and Spitzer telescopes look deep into space to study early universe

Two venerable space telescopes, the Hubble and the Spitzer, have teamed up to study the very early universe, and here's what they see at the cosmic dawn: a wild and woolly party, with brilliant blue stars that aren't ready to settle down into anything so structured as a conventional spiral …

UCLA meteorite collection finally reaches the public

The track lighting has been installed, the pamphlets have been printed, and the 357-pound metal space rock that crashed to Earth 50,000 years ago has been bolted to its small display table.<p>UCLA's Meteorite Gallery is officially open to the public.<p>To the casual observer, this small room on the third …

How Dangerous Is The Chemical Spilled Into West Virginia Waters?

Prolonged exposure to high concentrations of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol can cause headaches, eye and skin irritation, and difficulty breathing.<p>At a chemical plant near Charleston, W.V., a 48,000-gallon tank of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or MCHM, was found to be leaking into the Elk River …

Everything you need to know: Camelopardalids could be the best meteor shower this year

North America is predicted to have the best view of a possible new meteor shower from Comet 209P/LINEAR Friday night through Saturday morning (May …

Animal Loses Head But Remembers Everything

When I first saw this," says cell biologist Alejandro Sanchez Alvarado, "it was with total amazement."<p>This is a worm. It's called a planarian. It's about an inch long, and you'll find it gliding along the bottoms of rivers and ponds all over the world. It's very flat, like a moving bit of pasta — …

Imaging technique could lead to RSV vaccine

A new imaging technique for studying the structure of a childhood disease, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), could provide scientists with the …

Healthy cholesterol levels may help brain, too

A healthy ratio of “good” to “bad” cholesterol is correlated with lower levels of amyloid plaque deposition in the brain—a hallmark of Alzheimer’s …

The Real Space Oddities: Super-Earths and Jumbo Neptunes

Science loves big sample groups. When you’re trying to run a good experiment, your results will be a lot more reliable if you have a couple thousand …

Vapor ‘nanobubbles’ detect malaria through skin

A noninvasive technology can accurately detect even low levels of malaria infection through the skin in seconds with a laser scanner that requires no …

August guide to the bright planets

In August 2018, 4 planets arc across the evening sky. From west to east as night falls, these bright worlds are Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. Late …

Astronomy

Hear the sound of the Earth moving from the deepest hole on the planet

For billions of years, the Earth has silently traveled through space, spinning around the sun without making a sound. Even here on the planet, there's been little to hear. But now with the right recording equipment and processing, we can get a sense of what it sounds like for the planet to spin and …

Supermoon Coming on January 1, 2014

A supermoon is coming on January 1, 2014.<p>The new moon is one of two in January, the other coming on January 30.<p>A supermoon is an unofficial term that …

Astronomy

Long-lost photos show Mt. St. Helens just before its devastating eruption

More than 33 years ago Mount Saint Helens blew its top, causing 57 deaths and forever changing the landscape of Washington state and its surrounding areas. One of those deaths was Reid Blackburn, a reporter on assignment for <i>The Columbian</i> — a local area paper — who was snapping photos inside what …

Sirius: At Midnight on New Year’s Eve, See the Brightest Star

Sirius, a star, will be visible at midnight on New Year’s Eve.<p>It’s the brightest star in the night sky. “Intrinsically, Sirius is over 20 times …

How To Save The Electrical Grid

Extreme storms such as Hurricane Sandy have pushed the U.S. electrical grid to its breaking point. The technology exists to keep the lights on—we just need to implement it.<p>The explosion lit up the Manhattan skyline. A sudden boom, a one-two punch of yellow light—then everything went black. After …

How Neuroscience Will Fight Five Age-Old Afflictions

Rewiring the brain to battle seizures, blindness, and more<p>1) SEIZURES<p><b>A device delivers targeted drugs to calm overactive neurons</b><p>For years, large clinical trials have treated people with epilepsy using so-called deep-brain stimulation: surgically implanted electrodes that can detect a seizure and …