beauty

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Week's Best Space Pictures: Mars Dust Blows, Stars Glow, and Volcano Explodes

Wintry views of the stars lead to vistas of volcanoes, clouds, and contrails in the week's best space pictures.

New Bird Species Confirmed in Indonesia, 15 Years After First Sighting

The Sulawesi streaked flycatcher was first spotted by bird-watchers in 1997.<p>An Indonesian bird first observed 15 years ago is a species previously unknown to science, a new study confirms.<p>An elusive bird, spotted on the island of Sulawesi (map) in 1997, now has an official name: the Sulawesi …

My GMO Journey: From Skeptic To Supporter

The Plate<p><i>Anna Sumi, George Washington University</i><p>A few weekends ago I made the four-hour drive from my hometown of Madison, Wisconsin to Northfield, Minnesota to visit my best friend. As I drove mindlessly past the cornfields of anywhere-that’s-not-a-city, Wisconsin, across the Mississippi River, I …

8 Sky Events This Week: Comet Visits Galaxy, Jovian Eclipses

Starstruck<p>December diamonds crown the night sky, lovely sights for stargazers as the solar system's royalty dances.<p>Jam-packed skies offer plenty of celestial treats this week for stargazers, from a comet snuggling with a galaxy to the moon courting a maiden.<p><b>Jovian shadows.</b> Night owls will see a …

Saving the Colorado River Delta, One Habitat at a Time

A trickle of water is being returned to a few parts of the dried-out delta—and those parts are blooming.<p>San Luis Río Colorado, Mexico—Hector Patiño leaned against his shovel, taking a break from weeding. The sun beat down on his straw hat. His three friendly dogs flopped down in the shade.<p>Behind …

Pictures: Alaska's Wondrous Bristol Bay, Now Off-Limits to Gas and Oil Drilling

Photographer Michael Melford is celebrating the announcement that the U.S. government will protect the area's waters from oil and gas development.

New Image of Blue Diamond Cluster Is a Cosmic Showpiece

Sky-watchers can catch their own glimpse of Messier 47, a group of hot, blue baby stars.<p>Astronomers are getting an early holiday treat: a stunning new portrait of a well-known cluster of hot blue and red stellar jewels known as Messier 47.<p>The spectacular image of the sparkling cluster—visible also …

For Orphaned Elephant Calf, Harrowing Rescue Ends in Hope

In Kenya, baby elephant fights to survive after poachers poisoned her mother.<p>One day last October, a mother elephant and her ten-month-old calf were seen playing together on the plains of the Masai Mara National Reserve when a passing tourist photographed the tranquil scene.<p>Twenty-four hours later, …

'Bag of Chips' Effect: Bats Eavesdrop on Other Bats to Find Food

Weird & Wild<p>The calls of other bats tell them there's food nearby, much like opening a bag of chips in a movie theater draws the interest of one's seatmates.<p>When I hear my husband rummaging in the pantry, I often walk over to see if he's found anything good. It turns out bats do something similar …

Climate Mission Impossible: Scientists Say Fossil Fuels Must Go Untapped

New study says vast amounts of coal, oil, and gas must be left untouched to limit global warming.<p>Canada's tar sands need to stay in the ground, the oil beneath the Arctic has to remain under the sea, and most of the world's coal must be left untouched in order to prevent global temperatures from …

A New Antibiotic That Resists Resistance

Science & InnovationNot Exactly Rocket Science<p>The British chemist Lesley Orgel had a rule: Evolution is cleverer than you. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria have repeatedly proven him right.<p>Since humans started making antibiotics for ourselves in the 1940s, bacteria have evolved to counteract our …

Can Borneo's Tribes Survive 'Biggest Environmental Crime of Our Times'?

Book Talk<p>An innovative mapping project could help indigenous people claim ancestral lands—and protect ancient forest.<p>Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called the deforestation of Sarawak, a sliver of rain forest on the island of Borneo, in Malaysia, "probably the biggest environmental …

Movement to Take Down Thousands of Dams Goes Mainstream

A dam in Delaware comes tumbling down; last year 71 others did too.<p>This spring, for the first time in more than two centuries, American shad, striped bass, and river herring may spawn in White Clay Creek, a tributary of the Delaware River in northern Delaware. Early one morning last month, a …

Is Pollution Weakening Polar Bears' Ability to Mate?

Weird & Wild<p>A new study finds a link between chemicals and bone loss that could damage males' penises, potentially harming reproduction.<p>In the Arctic, pollutants banned from the U.S. in 1979 but still floating around the environment seem to be affecting the strength of polar bear penile bones, …

Polar Bears

A New Way to Explode a Star?

Science & InnovationNo Place Like Home<p>Among the most contentious unsolved mysteries in astronomy is the question of how, exactly, a white dwarf star explodes. Now, as described at the American Astronomical Society’s winter meeting, a team of scientists has come up with an idea that just might solve …

University of Illinois

How 40,000 Tons of Cosmic Dust Falling to Earth Affects You and Me

Book Talk<p>Our bodies are made of remnants of stars and massive explosions in the galaxies, authors say.<p>Astrophysics and medical pathology don't, at first sight, appear to have much in common. What do sunspots have to do with liver spots? How does the big bang connect with cystic …

How the Scorpion Lost Its Tail (And Its Anus)

Science & InnovationNot Exactly Rocket Science<p>Many lizards can break off their tails when they’re in danger. Many spiders can do the same to their legs. This is called autotomy. The body parts have in-built lines of weakness that can easily tear, and the wounds tend to rapidly close and heal. …

What Obama's Drilling Bans Mean for Alaska and the Arctic

With state revenues declining, Alaska wants more oil. Obama is pushing back—a little.<p>President Barack Obama has effectively banned oil exploration, at least for the time being, on some 22 million acres of federal land and waters in Alaska: 12 million acres on land in the Arctic National Wildlife …

Oil

Extremely Rare Fox Seen in Yosemite—First Time in 100 Years

Weird & Wild<p>It's too early to say if the Sierra Nevada red fox is rebounding, experts say.<p>One of the rarest animals in North America, the Sierra Nevada red fox, has been caught on camera in California's Yosemite National Park for the first time in nearly a century.<p>Motion-sensitive cameras stationed …

National Parks

To Save Coral Reefs, First Save the Mangroves

Coastal forests are a refuge for corals at risk of bleaching in a warming climate.<p>With coral reefs in decline and NOAA calling for a larger protected area for reefs in the Gulf of Mexico, U.S. Geological Survey scientists are pointing out another strategy to save reefs: First save the …

Alps

Summer Cloud

Winter Morning

Daisys

Caribbean Beach II