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Updated: 2 hours 57 min ago

The Discovery Files

16 hours 16 min ago
People who can experience the sensation of touch simply by observing it

Hands-on learning research that benefits the economy, environment

16 hours 16 min ago
Hands-on learning research that benefits the economy, environment

3.3 million-year-old fossil reveals origins of the human spine

16 hours 16 min ago

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Analysis of a 3.3 million-year-old fossil skeleton reveals the most complete spinal column of any early human relative, including vertebrae, neck and rib cage. The findings indicate that portions of the human spinal structure that enable efficient walking motions were established millions of years earlier than previously thought. The fossil, known as “Selam,” is a nearly complete skeleton of a 2-and-a-half-year-old child discovered in Dikika, Ethiopia, in 2000. Selam, which means “peace” in the Ethiopian Amharic language, was an early human relative from the species Australopithecus afarensis--the same species as the famous Lucy skeleton.

Image credit: Zeray Alemseged, University of Chicago

Plant root battles microbes

16 hours 16 min ago

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This image shows part of a plant root amid the diverse microbes inhabiting the rhizosphere, the region of soil surrounding plant roots. Below the soil surface, plant roots navigate a world teeming with microbes--both helpful and hostile. Complex interactions between roots and their soil-dwelling neighbors are critical to plant health and productivity.

Image credit: Illustration by Joel Brehm, Office of Research and Economic Development, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Science Talk

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 3:00am
Building a resilient business inspired by biology

Icy ring around young planetary system suggests chemical kinship to comets in our solar system

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 3:00am

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An international team of astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has made the first complete millimeter-wavelength image of the ring of dusty debris surrounding the young star Fomalhaut. This remarkably well-defined band of rubble and gas is likely the result of exocomets smashing together near the outer edges of a planetary system 25 light-years from Earth. The new ALMA observations offer a stunningly complete view of this glowing band of debris and also suggest that there are chemical similarities between its icy contents and comets in our own solar system.

Image credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), M. MacGregor; NASA/ESA Hubble, P. Kalas; B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF)

Powerful medical imaging

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 3:00am

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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a now-common medical imaging technique, advanced because of National Science Foundation-funding over several decades. New MRI systems using magnets made of materials like these golden superconducting strands are increasing the power and precision of this important clinical tool.

Image credit: Etched and imaged in a FESEM by Maxime Matras; color processing by Peter J. Lee, National High Magnetic Field Laboratory Applied Superconductivity Center

Glass windows change color at the flick of a switch

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 3:00am
Glass windows change color at the flick of a switch

Arctic sea-ice loss impacts beluga whale migration

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 3:00am
Arctic sea-ice loss impacts beluga whale migration

People Behind the Science

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 3:00am
A particle physicist's view on communicating science to the public

New tools safeguard census data about where you live and work

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 3:00am

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In October 2012, as Hurricane Sandy bore down on the densely populated U.S. East Coast, the state of New Jersey needed information fast. State planners and emergency managers turned to U.S. Census Bureau data about the people living and working in the affected area to identify the communities that would be hardest hit, and came up with a plan for recovery in the months that followed. A team led by Duke University, in collaboration with the Census Bureau, has developed new methods that enable people to learn as much as possible from census data and other government workforce statistics for things like disaster management, policymaking and funding decisions, while guaranteeing that no one can trace the data back to your household or business.

Image credit: Best-Backgrounds/Shutterstock

Searching for endemic Philodoria micromoths in paradise

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 3:00am

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University of Florida researcher Chris A. Johns traverses a ridge on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai in search of endemic micromoths in the genus Philodoria. These moths only feed on endemic Hawaiian plants, many of which are threatened or endangered. The goal of this research is to lay the foundation for future conservation work that protects both the moths and their Hawaiian host plants.

Image credit: Chris A. Johns, McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida

Documenting supervolcano eruptions

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 3:00am