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60-Second Science

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 3:00am
NSF-funded Rouzbeh Shahsavari is working on increasing the strength and toughness of concrete to help cut back on its ecological price tag

Microanalytical methods for investigation of the inflammatory response

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 3:00am
Microanalytical methods for investigation of the inflammatory response

Not such a harebrained idea

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 3:00am

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In California tide pools, slithery sea hares like this one create ink-laden smoke screens for protection. In the lab, they create opportunities for discovery. As a model system, the humble sea hare’s brain is relatively simple, composed of about 20,000 neurons that grow throughout its lifetime. Researchers are using the sea hare model to learn about individual cells function, discover the chemical pathways controlling various brain activities and to study how memories are processed and stored.

Image credit:

Genny Anderson, Santa Barbara City College

It's a fish-eat-tree world

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 3:00am

Moisture derived from underground water sources keeps Africa's Namib Desert ecosystem going

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 3:00am

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The ocean is not the sole source of the fog that sustains life for numerous plants and animals living in Africa's coastal Namib Desert. Ecohydrologists conducted research in one of the world's oldest and most biologically diverse deserts and found the fog also comes from groundwater and other sources. Surprisingly, non-ocean-derived fog accounted for more than half the total fog in the Namib over the period of the study.

Image credit: Lixin Wang

People Behind the Science

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 3:00am
World Meteorological Day: NSF-funded geophysicist Mike Bevis discusses his life in science and how he uses 'GPS meteorology'

Women's History Month: Ellie Fini is road testing a new swine bioadhesive as a possible replacement for petroleum

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 3:00am
Women's History Month: Ellie Fini is road testing a new swine bioadhesive as a possible replacement for petroleum

Thunderhead on central plateau of Baffin Island, Canadian Arctic

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 3:00am

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A thunderhead formed on the central plateau of Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic north of the Barnes Ice Cap. Scientists from the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, who were in the area working on a National Science Foundation-supported study at the time of the storm, said it produced cloud-to-ground lightning strikes and extensive thunder. Weather such as this was unheard of 50 years ago, when researchers from the institute spent four years in the same area, and is due to the increase in summer temperatures in those intervening years to the point that thunder and lightning are now a frequent occurrence.

Image credit: Gifford Miller, INSTAAR, University of Colorado Boulder

Transparent silver: Tarnish-proof films for flexible displays, touch screens, metamaterials

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 3:00am

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The thinnest, smoothest layer of silver that can survive air exposure has been laid down, and it could change the way touch screens and flat or flexible displays are made. By combining the silver with a little bit of aluminum, researchers found that it was possible to produce exceptionally thin, smooth layers of silver that are resistant to tarnishing. It could help improve computing power, affecting both the transfer of information within a silicon chip and the patterning of the chip itself through metamaterial superlenses.

Image credit: Joseph Xu/Michigan Engineering

Pulse of the Planet

Wed, 03/22/2017 - 3:00am
How resilient is "The Cloud" to cybersecurity threats?

Why waste water? These solar panels recycle greywater, produce energy

Wed, 03/22/2017 - 3:00am
Why waste water? These solar panels recycle greywater, produce energy

Studying free-living marine nematodes

Wed, 03/22/2017 - 3:00am

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These free-living marine nematodes from the Gulf of Mexico were preserved and stained for taxonomic analysis. A team of researchers from the University of California, Davis, collected samples here to study the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on microbial eukaryote species. Microbial eukaryote species, which are largely invisible to the naked eye, include groups such as nematode worms, protists and fungi. These microscopic species are often overlooked during environmental disasters, but they play important ecological roles. They represent the base of the food chain in marine ecosystems, and are additionally responsible for recycling nutrients, such as carbon, in the environment.

Image credit: Dr. Holly Bik, University of California, Davis

From black holes to helium

Wed, 03/22/2017 - 3:00am

During learning, neurons deep in brain engage in a surprising level of activity

Wed, 03/22/2017 - 3:00am

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An international team of researchers has learned something surprising about the cerebellum, a region of the brain which despite its small size, contains roughly half of all the neurons in the brain. These neurons, which were thought to fire only rarely as they take in information from the senses, are in fact far more active than previously suspected. The finding may signal a major shift in our understanding of how the cerebellum encodes information.

Image credit: Image courtesy of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute