Astronomers Trace Fast Radio Burst to Extreme Cosmic Neighborhood

Astronomers Trace Fast Radio Burst to Extreme Cosmic Neighborhood

On Christmas Eve 2016, Andrew Seymour, an astronomer at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, kissed his 4-year-old daughter, Cora Lee, goodnight, telling her he was off to track Santa. He walked to the well-worn telescope, occasionally passing revelers riding horses through the empty streets—a common sight in Arecibo during the holidays. Sometimes a lonely […]

A Robot That Tugs on Pig Organs Could Save Human Babies

The pig looks like any other pig, only it’s been wearing a backpack for a week—in the name of science. Just behind its head sits a control box, with a battery and processor, from which runs a cable that enters through the pig’s flank. Once inside, the cable attaches to a very special robot clamped […]

Can an Arrow Fired Straight Up Fall Fast Enough to Kill You?

Can an Arrow Fired Straight Up Fall Fast Enough to Kill You?

In a recent episode of Mythbusters, Brian and Jon (the new MythBusters) wanted to see what happens when you shoot an arrow straight up into the air. It will obviously come back down—but would it still be moving fast enough to kill you? If you are a MythBuster, the best option is to actually shoot […]

Is SpaceX’s Covert Zuma Payload Missing in Action?

After months of launch delays, the clandestine spacecraft built by Northrop Grumman finally launched on Sunday evening on board a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The mission, code-named Zuma, lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 8:00 PM Eastern, headed toward an unknown destination in low Earth orbit. But it may not have made it there. On […]

Scientists Figure Out How to Make Muscles from Stem Cells

For the past several years, Nenad Bursac has been trying to make muscles from scratch. A biological engineer at Duke, Bursac came close in 2015, when his lab became the first to grow functional human skeletal muscle in culture. “Functional” being the operative word. Like the muscle fibers in, say, your bicep, the tissues could […]

The Feathers of Planet Earth’s Bird of Paradise Literally Eat Light

The Feathers of Planet Earth’s Bird of Paradise Literally Eat Light

The mating dance of the male superb bird of paradise is like nothing else on Earth. To win the affection of a female, he forms a sort of satellite dish with his body, revealing an entrancing band of blue. He jumps about like this, clicking in the face of the rather drab female, who appears […]

Scientists Figure Out How to Make Muscles from Scratch

For the past several years, Nenad Bursac has been trying to make muscles from scratch. A biological engineer at Duke, Bursac came close in 2015, when his lab became the first to grow functional human skeletal muscle in culture. “Functional” being the operative word. Like the muscle fibers in, say, your bicep, the tissues could […]

Scientists Just Solved a Major Piece of the Opioid Puzzle

When it comes to tackling the opioid crisis, public health workers start with the drugs: fentanyl, morphine, heroin. But biochemists have a different focus: Not the opioids, but opioid receptors—the proteins the drugs latch onto within the body. These receptors embed themselves in the walls of cells throughout the brain and peripheral nervous system. There, […]

Salvia Leads Chemists on a Psychedelic Existential Journey

On August 2, synthetic organic chemist Ryan Shenvi stood before 300 people at the Natural Products and Bioactive Compounds conference and told them something he knew was sacrilegious: He’d synthesized salvinorin A, the active ingredient in the wildly intense hallucinogen salvia, and he hadn’t just copied a molecule, as synthetic organic chemists are wont to […]

Mathematicians Second-Guess Centuries-Old Fluid Equations

Mathematicians Second-Guess Centuries-Old Fluid Equations

The Navier-Stokes equations capture in a few succinct terms one of the most ubiquitous features of the physical world: the flow of fluids. The equations, which date to the 1820s, are today used to model everything from ocean currents to turbulence in the wake of an airplane to the flow of blood in the heart. […]