Shreya Murthy

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Leaves In Chernobyl Area Are Decaying Unusually Slowly

They just linger in a thick layer on the forest floor.<p>Strange to say, fallen logs, leaf litter and other forest debris doesn't decay as quickly around Chernobyl's most affected areas as it does elsewhere, <i>Smithsonian</i> reports. When scientists set out to study the phenomenon, they found that lingering …

Yellowstone National Park

Forgetting Is An Actively Controlled Process In The Brain

A study of genetically-modified roundworms has turned up a protein that is involved in eroding memory.<p>When it comes to maintaining sanity, forgetting is at least as important as remembering. Without it, the constant stream of stimuli--faces on the street, words read, items glanced at--would quickly …

The Brain

Flour Experiment Helps Explain Strange Lights Preceding Earthquakes

There are now several theories to explain the existence of pre-earthquake lights.<p>Scientists have recently shown that strange lights, such as those described as "glowing orbs," have indeed appeared before major earthquakes, for example in Japan and L’Aquila, Italy. But how?<p>U.S. scientists propose a …

Penn State

Not-So-Objective Scientists Cling To Accepted Wisdom

Overturning scientific dogma is tricky. Reporter Joe Palca tells NPR's Rachel Martin that one astronomer learned that lesson when he calculated that the universe was younger than colleagues believed.<p>Transcript<p>RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:<p>Scientists are usually portrayed as highly rational seekers of the …

Do Small Satellites Make For More Space Junk?

It depends on how they're deployed.<p>Over the past 15 years, we've been sprinkling space with eensy satellites. Universities, startups and national space programs have all launched fit-in-your-hand satellites that, variously, study life in space, flash Morse code and snap smartphone photos. This …

Space Exploration

Gravitational Waves: Einstein Was Right, Again, Maybe

Cosmologists hope for a field-rocking announcement next week.<p>What's the latest cosmology gossip? According to the Guardian, the field is awash with rumors that next week, American scientists will announce the detection of gravitational waves: incredibly small ripples carrying energy across the void …

Physics

Scientists Track a Great White Shark Across the Atlantic for the First Time

Tagged off Florida, the mature female is now closing in on the U.K.'s Cornish coast.<p>Ever since researchers tagged a great white shark nicknamed Lydia off Jacksonville, Florida, in March 2013, they've been keeping a close eye on her. Their vigilance was rewarded this past weekend when the 14-foot …

The Week In Numbers: Google's Robot Army, A Beautiful View Of Pi, And More

<b>3.14159265358979323846264338327</b>: the first 30 digits of pi. Happy Pi Day! (see how science artist Martin Krzywinski turned the irrational number into colorful circular diagrams here)<p><b>1,315 times the diameter of the sun</b>: the size of this yellow hypergiant star, one of the 10 largest stars ever …

Are Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 Hours of Practice Really All You Need?

Practice makes perfect, but mastery might require something more than 10,000 hours of trying.<p>Keep practicing, and you might become an expert. Or maybe you won't. Who knows? Not the experts, suggests a raging debate.<p><b>Made famous by Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell, the 2008 book's</b> …

Robotic Fish and Inflatable Tentacles: How MIT is Solving Hard Problems with Soft Robots

In the interest of not burying the lead: MIT is developing inflatable robotic tentacles, motor-free limbs that are able to flex and grip in response to targeted bursts of air. But the inspiration for those undulating components is a fish. And that’s the more appropriate bot to start with.<p>As robots …

Robotics

Were Volcanoes Ice Age Refuges for Life?

Geothermal havens may have sheltered continent's organisms, study says.<p>Named after Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, volcanoes are best known for their destructive power.<p>But a new study bolsters the idea that they can also be havens for life, as refuges for plants and animals during ice …

Why'd The Scientist Cross The Road? To Figure Out Why You're Laughing

Here's a joke: A man is sitting on the porch with his wife one night when, out of the blue he says, "I love you." His wife says, "Was that you? Or was that the beer talking?" The man says, "That was me — talking to the beer."<p>Maybe you laughed at that and maybe you didn't, but either way, cognitive …

You're Old. You're a Rock. You Can See

I want to tell you the story of three rocks, starting with the oldest one ever found. That one is so small, if you put it in the palm of your hand you'd need a magnifying glass to spot it. It was found buried inside a hunk of sandstone near a sheep ranch in a remote part of Western Australia ...<p>... …

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