You might be aware of one of Uranus’ complexities: It spins on its side, and its moons orbit on that same rotated plane. New evidence strengthens the case that Uranus was smashed in a giant collision, resulting in its sideways orientation to its orbital plane and perhaps explaining some of the planet’s other mysteries. Continue reading Did Something Massive Smash Into Uranus?
Thanks to a quirk of astrophysics, astronomers were able to observe features just tens of kilometers apart near a spinning neutron star located 6,500 light-years away from Earth. This is like using a telescope in your backyard to see DNA strands on the moon. Continue reading Scientists Observe ‘Black Widow’ Pulsar in Mind-Boggling Resolution
An ongoing outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in Africa has become much more worrying, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported Thursday. While previous cases of the often fatal viral disease had been found in rural areas during this most recent outbreak, the first urban case of Ebola was recently confirmed in Mbandaka, a city in the northwestern region of the DRC with 1.2 million residents. Continue reading The Latest Ebola Outbreak Has Reached a Major African City
American women had fewer children in 2017 than in any year since 1987, according to a new report released by the Centers for Disease and Prevention Thursday. And the overall birth rate was the lowest ever recorded in the US. While there are some positive trends in the report, such as fewer teen pregnancies, there are also plenty of worrying ones, like more premature births. Continue reading The US Had Its Lowest Birth Rate Ever Last Year
Proxima b, our nearest neighboring exoplanet, is almost 25 trillion miles away. Even one of our fastest spaceships—the 31,600-mile-per-hour New Horizons—would take hundreds of thousands of years to get there. Assuming we can’t figure out how to warp space-time (seems unlikely, but fingers crossed), we’re still looking at a couple-hundred-year trip in the best-case scenario, which leads to the real problem: No human crew could survive the entire ride. Science-fiction writers have long floated so-called generation ships as a solution. Designers would outfit these interplanetary cruise vessels to support a community of adults and their children, and their children’s children, and their children’s children’s children…until humanity finally reaches a new celestial shore. Here’s our best guess for what it would take to sow the seeds of an extrasolar species.
Depression is a tricky beast. Symptoms vary widely from person to person, as does the response to treatment. But there’s no question that genetic makeup plays an important role, and understanding the genetic architecture of depression could help us better understand how to treat it. Continue reading Largest Study of Its Kind Identifies 44 Genetic Risk Factors for Depression
The discovery of DNA as a double helix is a hallowed story of scientific triumph—the work of four researchers merging together to solve one of science’s biggest mysteries, giving birth to what we know as the field of modern genetics. But decades later, we’re still learning that DNA is a more furiously complicated piece of biological machinery than we ever knew. Continue reading Scientists just discovered a strange new DNA shape lurking in human cells