Category: Science

Butterfly swarm shows up on Denver radar system

A colourful, shimmering spectacle detected by weather radar over the US state of Colorado has been identified as swarms of migrating butterflies. Scientists at the National Weather Service (NWS) first mistook the orange radar blob for birds and had asked the public to help identifying the species. They later established that the 70-mile wide (110km) mass was a kaleidoscope of […]

In pictures: Solar challenge race begins in Australia

Teams from around the world are competing on solar cars in an epic transcontinental race. ALLSPORT/GETTY IMAGES Solar-powered cars from more than 30 countries around the world have begun a biennial 3,000km (1,865-mile) race from Darwin to Adelaide, north to south across the centre of Australia. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the competition. ALLSPORT/GETTY IMAGES Teams in the […]

‘Sooty birds’ reveal hidden US air pollution

Soot trapped in the feathers of songbirds over the past 100 years is causing scientists to revise their records of air pollution. US researchers measured the black carbon found on 1,300 larks, woodpeckers and sparrows over the past century. They’ve produced the most complete picture to date of historic air quality over industrial parts of the US. The study also […]

Can we make fashion greener?

We continue to buy new clothes at an incredible rate. How can manufacturers reduce fashion’s environmental footprint? According to the Valuing Our Clothes report analysing the contents of British wardrobes by the Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP), we purchased 1,130,000 tonnes of new clothing last year in the UK. Meanwhile, an estimated £30bn worth of our clothing hangs about gathering dust because […]

Trump team kicks the Clean Power Plan into the long grass

In California and the western US, wildfires made more likely by climate change, continue to rage in the vineyards and forests. In President Trump’s Washington, a bonfire of climate regulations is also burning brightly. “The war on coal is over,” EPA administrator Scott Pruitt told an audience in Kentucky yesterday, as he announced his intention to sign a rule rolling back […]

The way poison frogs keep from poisoning themselves is complicated

For some poison dart frogs, gaining resistance to one of their own toxins came with a price. The genetic change that gives one group of frogs immunity to a particularly lethal toxin also disrupts a key chemical messenger in the brain. But the frogs have managed to sidestep the potentially damaging side effect through other genetic tweaks, researchers report in the […]

Gene variant linked to Alzheimer’s disease is a triple threat

A genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease is a double, make that triple, whammy. In addition to speeding up the development of brain plaques associated with Alzheimer’s, a gene variant known as APOE4 also makes tau tangles — another signature of the disease — worse, researchers report online September 20 in Nature. APOE4 protein also ramps up brain inflammation that kills brain cells, neuroscientist David […]

Scientist who claims playing the didgeridoo can stop snoring wins Ig Nobel award

Scientists taking on the deep questions of whether cats are liquid or solid, how holding a crocodile influences gambling and whether playing the didgeridoo can help cure snoring were honoured at the Ig Nobel Prize spoof awards. The prizes are the brainchild of Marc Abrahams, editor of the Annals of Improbable Research, and are intended not to honour the best or worst in […]

A museum of blood-sucking nightmares: the US National Tick Collection

To get to the US National Tick Collection, visitors to the campus of Georgia Southern University must descend into the bowels of the Math/Physics Building, where sunlight is absent and locked doors with unpronounceable signs prohibit entry. Curator Dr. Lorenza Beati, a smiling woman in wire-rimmed glasses and blue jeans, a woman who radiates the same vibe as a kindly, […]