Discover Magazine: Latest Blog Posts

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Views expressed in this science and technology news update are those of the reporters and correspondents.

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Accessed on 08 November 2019, 0555 UTC.

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LATEST BLOG POSTS

D-BRIEF

A Rocky Planet in This Oddball Solar System Would Have Stunning Skies

By Erika K. Carlson | November 7, 2019 5:09 pm

(Credit: Teo Mocnik)

Over the past couple of decades, astronomers have discovered thousands of alien planets and solar systems. These worlds come in a wide variety of arrangements, many of which are quite different from what we see in our own solar system.

Some have giant planets that swing through the planetary systems in stretched-out, or “eccentric,” elliptical orbits, unlike the nearly circular orbits of planets like Jupiter and Saturn.

Astronomers think that many of these e …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: SPACE & PHYSICSTOP POSTS

D-BRIEF

DNA Analysis of Ancient Rome Reveals a Cosmopolitan Megacity

By Leslie Nemo | November 7, 2019 4:15 pm

(Credit: leoks/Shutterstock)

A new collection of DNA from ancient Romans spanning 12,000 years shows how the population of the empire’s capital shifted along with its politics. Published in Science, the timeline is one of the first to examine what genetic information from archaeological digs says about the region after the time of hunter-gatherers and early farmers.

The analysis found that ancient Romans were from all over Europe, the Near East and northern Africa. “Rome was a cosmop …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: LIVING WORLDTOP POSTS
MORE ABOUT: ARCHAEOLOGY

D-BRIEF

‘Super-Emitters’ In California Release A Third Of The State’s Methane

By Leslie Nemo | November 6, 2019 2:55 pm

A landfill in Italy with a methane capture system. (Credit: newphotoservice/Shutterstock)

A new analysis finds that 0.2 percent of all California methane emitters — individual pipes emitting or leaking the greenhouse gas — account for more than a third of the state’s methane production.

Nearly half of these methane sources, dubbed super-emitters, come from landfills. Dairies and the oil and gas industry account for a quarter of discharge sites each. Ideally, pinpointing these  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: ENVIRONMENTTOP POSTS
MORE ABOUT: CLIMATE CHANGEPOLLUTION

D-BRIEF

Modern Apartments Have More Fungi Than a Jungle Hut

By Leslie Nemo | November 6, 2019 1:34 pm

Rural residences have less bacteria and fungi than their urban counterparts. (Credit: Elise Lefran/Shutterstock)

Moving to the city might mean gaining some unexpected roommates. New research finds that urban dwellings host more fungi and bacteria than their rural counterparts. This is despite the fact that city homes use more cleaning and antifungal products.

The finding, published yesterday in Nature Microbiology, could provide clues about why urban residents have higher rates of health  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: HEALTH & MEDICINETOP POSTS
MORE ABOUT: PERSONAL HEALTH

D-BRIEF

No, Houseplants Won’t Purify the Air in Your Home

By Nathaniel Scharping | November 6, 2019 12:39 pm

Your houseplants look nice, and they might even make you happier, but they’re unlikely to clean the air. (Credit: Anatolii Mikhailov/Shutterstock)

If you go for a walk in the forest, the air feels fresh. People often attribute that to trees’ and plants’ air-purifying abilities. They suck up C02 and exhale oxygen, removing pollutants from the air. So it seems the same should go for the air inside our houses as well.

Humans have tried to bring the forest to their homes for decades, installi …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: HEALTH & MEDICINETOP POSTS

D-BRIEF

A New Robotic Instrument Will Map Millions of Galaxies and Reveal Dark Energy’s History

By Erika K. Carlson | November 5, 2019 5:02 pm

Kitt Peak National Observatory, home to the new Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument. (Credit: NOAOAURA/NSF)

A powerful new astronomical instrument got its first view of the sky from an Arizona mountaintop two weeks ago. Once the device officially gets to work in early 2020, it will capture the light from thousands of galaxies each night — up to 5,000 galaxies every 20 minutes, in ideal conditions. With this instrument, researchers will make a deep-space map of where galaxies lie to study  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: SPACE & PHYSICSTOP POSTS
MORE ABOUT: DARK ENERGYGALAXIES

D-BRIEF

Hubble Catches One Galaxy Floating in a Cosmic City

By Alison Klesman | November 5, 2019 3:55 pm

(Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, A. Bellini et al.)

The universe is vast, with galaxies containing gas, dust, stars, and planets sprinkled throughout. But this sprinkling isn’t random; although some galaxies are indeed truly alone, most are not congregating through gravity.

NGC 1706, captured in this stunning Hubble Space Telescope image, is one of about 50 galaxies bound together in a group that lies in the direction of the southern constellation Dorado the Swordfish. The brilliant, face-o …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: SPACE & PHYSICSTOP POSTS
MORE ABOUT: GALAXIES

D-BRIEF

SpaceX, Boeing Complete Crucial Tests for Crew Capsules

By Hailey Rose McLaughlin | November 5, 2019 3:42 pm

Boeing’s Starliner performing the abort pad test on November 4. (Credit: NASA)

Boeing and SpaceX, both leaders in the aerospace industry, have completed crucial tests of their crew capsules, which the companies hope will bring American astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) in the near future.

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner completed a pad abort test on November 4. The test is intended to verify astronauts can get away from the launch site if there’s an emergency pr …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: SPACE & PHYSICSTOP POSTS
MORE ABOUT: HUMAN SPACEFLIGHT

D-BRIEF

To Help Fidgety Kids, Researchers Made a Brain Scanner That Fits in a Bike Helmet

By Jennifer Walter | November 5, 2019 3:34 pm

A young child wearing the MEG scanner, created using a modified bike helmet and several sensors. Credit: Rebeccah Slater, University of Oxford

A simple bike helmet may be the answer for researchers looking to study the brains of fidgety kids. With a few extra holes drilled in the top and a pile of chunky cables ballooning outward, the common piece of headgear could offer an alternative to stationary brain scans.

With a few tweaks, researchers from the U.K. equipped a commercial bike helme …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: TECHNOLOGYTOP POSTS
MORE ABOUT: MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY

THE CRUX

Voracious and Invasive Lionfish Are Tearing Through Florida’s Coral Reefs

By bioGraphic | November 5, 2019 3:26 pm

A young lionfish photographed during a dive in Palm Beach, Florida. (Credit: Steven Kovacs)

Descending into pitch-black open ocean under the cover of inky skies can unnerve even experienced divers, but for underwater photographer Steven Kovacs, it’s a surprisingly addictive activity. “It’s like a treasure hunt. You never know what amazing creature will drift by or come up from the depths.”

While Kovacs has documented the strange and beautiful larval forms of many species during s …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: LIVING WORLDTOP POSTS
MORE ABOUT: ECOSYSTEMSOCEAN
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Until next time,
Russ Roberts
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