Science

Your Inner Fish … An engaging look at our vertebrate ancestry

By Walter Gilberti, 22 April 2014

The three-part series on the evolution of vertebrates concludes Wednesday night at 10pm EST on public television.

Earth-sized planet in a star’s habitable zone confirmed

By Bryan Dyne, 21 April 2014

This is the first exoplanet detected that potentially has liquid water on its surface.

Cosmos reboot falls short of the mark

By Bryan Dyne, 14 April 2014

The remake of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, has its moments, but does not go far enough either in its exposition of science or its criticism of anti-science.

Imprint of primordial gravitational waves detected

By C. Frederick Graves, 24 March 2014

The finding by astronomers working at the South Pole provides confirmation of a key aspect of the Big Bang theory, called the inflationary hypothesis.

New fossil discovery sheds light on the evolution of the human hand

By Philip Guelpa, 26 February 2014

The discovery of a fossilized hominin metacarpal bone in Kenya demonstrates that the evolution of a key adaptation of the hand, thought to be associated with sophisticated tool production, occurred much earlier than had previously been known.

The puzzle of the proton radius

By Will Morrow, 21 February 2014

For four years, physicists have sought to explain the emergence of two apparently irreconcilable measurements of the radius of the proton.

The genetic legacy of the Neanderthals

By Matthew MacEgan, 6 January 2014

Scientists have, for the first time, sequenced the entire genome of a Neanderthal hominin.

Nearly a billion ocean-dependent people at risk because of global warming

By Henry Allan and Bryan Dyne, 29 November 2013

A recent study published in PLOS Biology has analyzed the chemical changes in the Earth’s oceans caused by excessive greenhouse gas emissions.

Evolutionary links between the development of language and stone tool technology

By Philip Guelpa, 19 November 2013

The use of sophisticated imaging techniques demonstrates that regions of the brain used in language production and stone tool manufacture overlap, suggesting an evolutionary link in the development of cognition.

New study estimates billions of Earth-sized planets orbiting Sun-like stars in the Milky Way galaxy

By Bryan Dyne, 9 November 2013

Data from the Kepler spacecraft has established that Earth-sized planets in the habitable zone of Sun-like stars are common in the Universe.

New fossil skull find may revolutionize view of early human evolution

By Thomas Douglass, 22 October 2013

A newly reported skull from the site of Dmanisi in Georgia demonstrates wide variation in brain size and morphology within an early Homo erectus population, with implications for other fossil species and ancient population structure.

Peter Higgs and François Englert awarded 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics

By Bryan Dyne, 21 October 2013

The theoretical prediction and subsequent discovery of the Higgs boson has provided a greater insight into the origin of mass of subatomic particles.

New research sheds light on a key dietary change in early human evolution

By Philip Guelpa, 14 October 2013

Multiple studies of carbon isotopes in fossil hominin teeth from southern and eastern Africa document the change from woodland to grassland diet which marked a major step in the evolution of early humans.

NASA scientists announce historic leap in human exploration

Voyager 1 spacecraft enters interstellar space

By Kevin Reed, 4 October 2013

Voyager 1 has done science continuously for 36 years and spanning a journey of 19 billion kilometers.

2001-2010 had the warmest temperatures globally

By Justin Knowels, 24 August 2013

A World Meteorological Organization report shows that the past decade was the warmest ever recorded, leading to more extreme weather events worldwide than ever before.

One year of the Mars rover Curiosity

By Bryan Dyne, 6 August 2013

During its mission so far, NASA’s Curiosity rover has found strong evidence that life similar to terrestrial microbes could have existed on ancient Mars.

Data storage in synthetic DNA

By Bryan Dyne and Shane Feratu, 25 July 2013

New research has combined genetics and computer science to develop a technique that allows any type of data to be reliably stored in synthetic DNA.

Scientific study confirms groundwater contamination by hydraulic fracturing

By Philip Guelpa, 9 July 2013

A newly published study refutes energy industry claims that hydraulic fracturing for natural gas does not cause ground water contamination with toxic chemicals.

Stephen Hawking and the academic boycott of Israel

By Chris Marsden, 15 May 2013

In a letter explaining his decision to pull out of Israel’s Presidential conference, noted theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking explained that Israeli government policy “is likely to lead to disaster.”

Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels reach new heights

By Bryan Dyne, 13 May 2013

Carbon dioxide levels are at the highest in human history, a further indication that human activity is driving global warming.

A decade of infrared space astronomy comes to a close

The end of the Herschel Space Observatory mission

By Don Barrett, 7 May 2013

On April 29, the Herschel Space Observatory exhausted its supply of ultra-cold liquid helium coolant, required to do its most sensitive observations.

Genome sequencing of “living fossil” fish sheds light on the evolution of land animals

By Philip Guelpa, 30 April 2013

Decoding of the full genetic sequence of the coelacanth, a member of a group known as lobe-finned fish, has helped to explain some of the key genetic mechanisms associated with the evolution of life.

Two planetary systems with potentially Earth-like conditions

By Bryan Dyne, 22 April 2013

Earth-like extra-solar planets have been found orbiting in the “habitable zone,” where radiation levels would permit the existence of the building blocks of life.

Thousands of scientists protest US cuts to medical research

By Nick Barrickman, 9 April 2013

Up to 15,000 scientists from around the country attended Monday’s rally, which was called by the American Association for Cancer Research.

Two cases of a “functional cure” for HIV/AIDS

By Shane Feratu, 30 March 2013

Researchers have been able to neutralize the HIV virus from causing harm in two separate studies.

CERN confirms Higgs discovery

By Bryan Dyne, 23 March 2013

The major collaborators in research at the Large Hadron Collider have jointly announced that the new particle discovered last year is the Higgs boson.

Australian court upholds patent for breast cancer gene

By Frank Gaglioti, 26 February 2013

The decision serves to entrench the rights of biotech companies as they scramble to obtain, enforce and profit from patents on genetic material.

Study finds mammals diversified only after the extinction of dinosaurs

By Philip Guelpa, 22 February 2013

A major study using both fossil and genetic data has produced a detailed reconstruction of the ancestral placental mammal and supports the interpretation that the great adaptive radiation of mammals took place only after the extinction of dinosaurs.

Science, society and the Chelyabinsk meteor

By Don Barrett, 18 February 2013

The meteor explosion over Chelyabinsk, Russia marks the first conjunction of a frequent and natural occurrence—the collision of the Earth with debris left over from the formation of the solar system—with a modern metropolis.

Astronomers confirm fundamental relationship in atomic physics

By Will Morrow, 4 January 2013

A team of astronomers has determined that the ratio of the mass of the proton to the mass of the electron has been stable for at least seven billion years.

Stone tools and the evolution of modern human cognition

By Philip Guelpa, 18 December 2012

A newly reported microlithic technology from a site in South Africa helps close the apparent temporal gap between the biological evolution of modern humans and the archaeological evidence of fully modern cognitive abilities.

The growing impact and dangers of global warming

By Bryan Dyne, 27 November 2012

The impact of climate change on all aspects of life has been more concretely analyzed in reports issued over the past decade.

The future study of hurricanes at risk

By Bryan Dyne, 6 November 2012

The end of the current generation of environmental satellites will likely produce a gap lasting up to four years, in which crucial data used in predicting the intensity of hurricanes will not be collected.

Earth-mass planet found orbiting the nearest star

By Bryan Dyne, 24 October 2012

A planet with similar mass to the Earth has been found orbiting α Centauri B, our closest interstellar neighbor.

Voyager spacecraft approaching interstellar space—35 years after launch

By Bryan Dyne, 28 September 2012

Voyager 1 and 2 have flown through the Solar System for 35 years and now Voyager 1 is on the verge of becoming humanity’s first interstellar spacecraft.

New fossils support a multiple-species view of early human evolution

By Philip Guelpa, 31 August 2012

Newly reported fossils from East Africa indicate multiple branches in early human evolution.

Curiosity rover lands on Mars: A milestone of space exploration

By Bryan Dyne, 7 August 2012

Curiosity, NASA’s latest Mars rover, has successfully landed on target at Gale crater.

Melting of Greenland ice shelf likely caused by global warming

By Bryan Dyne, 2 August 2012

The sudden melting of the Greenland ice shelf is an indicator that global warming is beginning to have a very widespread impact on human life.

Did Neanderthals create cave art?

By Philip Guelpa, 10 July 2012

It is possible that simple representations such as disks and negative hand prints, which new dating indicates were the earliest forms of cave art, were, in fact, originated by Neanderthals.

CERN discovers new fundamental particle

By Bryan Dyne, 5 July 2012

Results jointly released from the Large Hadron Collider have confirmed the existence of a new fundamental particle, which has the high possibility of being the long sought after Higgs boson.

The 2012 transit of Venus

By Don Barry, 5 June 2012

The Sun, the planet Venus and the Earth will line up so that Venus appears to pass across the disk of the Sun.

New search for life among Jupiter’s ice moons

By Aidan Claire, 17 May 2012

The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced a €1.1 billion unmanned mission to the ice moons of the planet Jupiter.

Extreme weather forebodes point-of-no-return for climate change

By Nicholas Russo, 20 April 2012

An unusual heat wave east of the Rocky Mountains has made March 2012 the warmest March on record for the contiguous United States.

Large Hadron Collider upgrade aids exploration of the origin of mass

By Bryan Dyne, 13 April 2012

What makes things heavy? How does the origin of mass connect with other physical theories? The Large Hadron Collider was built in Switzerland to experimentally test theoretical work that suggests an answer to these questions.

Obama’s 2013 budget to increase corporate influence over public research

By Nicholas Russo, 25 February 2012

Reprioritization of funding in the proposed budget, together with statements by Obama, indicates a decisive shift toward further subordination of public research to corporate interests.

A further reply on Thomas Kuhn

By William Whitlow, 17 February 2012

The following contribution from William Whitlow extends a discussion that began with his article last fall, Thomas S. Kuhn, post-modernism and materialist dialectics, and continued with a response by Philip Guelpa, A friendly response to William Whitlow’s comments on Thomas Kuhn.

Bird flu scientists respond to media hysteria, suspend critical research

By Nicholas Russo, 10 February 2012

The investigators discovered how a mutation of the deadly virus could lead to its airborne transmission between human beings.

Galapagos tortoise species, thought to be extinct, has survived

By Patrick Martin, 3 February 2012

A team of biologists from Yale University has found evidence that a species of Galapagos tortoise, believed extinct for more than a century, has survived in one of the remote parts of the Galapagos island chain.

A friendly response to William Whitlow’s comments on Thomas Kuhn

By Philip Guelpa, 30 January 2012

This commentary is written as a supplement to the WSWS article “Thomas S. Kuhn, post-modernism and materialist dialectics,” by William Whitlow.

Tantalizing evidence of the Higgs boson

By Bryan Dyne, 29 December 2011

Physicists are close to confirming detection of the last undiscovered particle predicted by the “Standard Model” of particle physics.

New research may show that Neanderthals did not go extinct

By Philip Guelpa, 27 December 2011

DNA derived from the Neanderthals has been found in many human populations around the globe

Exciting and engaging: Richard Dawkins’ The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True

By Christine Schofelt, 12 November 2011

In his latest book, written for young people, evolutionary biologist and author Richard Dawkins shows how—and why—to fall in love with reality.

Tentative evidence of particles travelling faster than light

By Margaret Bourne, 4 November 2011

Initial results from a group of scientists appear to indicate that neutrinos travel at a velocity greater than the speed of light.

Thomas S. Kuhn, post-modernism and materialist dialectics

By William Whitlow, 28 October 2011

William Whitlow replies to a reader’s inquiry about sociologist Thomas S. Kuhn, author of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

New hominin fossil finds in South Africa may fill a gap in the record of human evolution

By Philip Guelpa, 23 September 2011

A newly reported fossil discovery from the Malapa, South Africa may provide greater insight into the evolution of the genus Homo from our australopithecine ancestors. The fossils consist of remains of two individuals, an adult female and juvenile male, possibly a mother and son.

Mass Viking grave identified in southern England

By Joan Smith, 16 September 2011

Archaeologists have discovered a mass grave of decapitated Vikings on the southern coast of England dating from AD 910-AD1034. Scientists think they may have been caught and killed by locals.

CERN experiment weighs antimatter to unprecedented precision

By Bryan Dyne, 26 August 2011

The research provides further confirmation of quantum mechanics.

The end of the US space shuttle program

By Patrick Martin, 19 August 2011

The American manned space program is shutting down indefinitely, an event that has considerable historical significance.

A further advance in quantum computing

By Bryan Dyne, 12 August 2011

A team led by Susumu Takahashi has pioneered a new step forward toward the development of a fully functional quantum computer.

Herschel telescope discovered twisted ring of gas and dust at the centre of our galaxy

By William Whitlow, 5 August 2011

The Herschel Space Observatory has identified a twisted ring of dust and gas at the centre of the Milky Way galaxy. Parts of the ring have been seen before but this is the first time it has been observed as a whole.

Dawn spacecraft reaches the asteroid Vesta

By Patrick Martin, 20 July 2011

The NASA mission will study the two largest asteroids, first Vesta, then Ceres.

James Watt and Our World, an exhibition at the Science Museum, London

By William Whitlow, 23 June 2011

Anyone with an hour or two to spare in London over the next year will be rewarded by a visit to the James Watt exhibition at the Science Museum.[1] As befits an exhibition relating to this genius whose inventions were at the core of the Industrial Revolution, there are several steam engines on display, including the massive “Old Bess,” the second steam engine built by James Watt and his partner Matthew Boulton in their Birmingham “Manufactory,” in 1777.

New research sheds light on cognitive abilities of animals

By Frances Gaertner, 10 June 2011

Recent research has begun to investigate the cognitive abilities of animals and is helping to identify the evolutionary developments made by human beings that began to distinguish them from apes.

Extra-solar planet could sustain Earth-like life

By Bryan Dyne, 6 June 2011

The planet Gliese 581 d is believed to be twice the mass of Earth, and could sustain liquid water on the side that faces its star.

Scientists see increasing floods with changing climate

By Dan Brennan, 23 May 2011

Climate change is responsible for increasingly extreme weather events.

Einstein’s theory of gravity confirmed by NASA probe

By William Whitlow, 13 May 2011

NASA has just announced that Einstein’s theory of gravity has been verified with astonishing accuracy by its Gravity Probe-B.

Scientists find evidence of cannibalism in Palaeolithic Britain

By Joan Smith, 29 April 2011

The alternation of glacial and warmer periods conditioned the prehistory of what is now Britain.

US budget cuts threaten scientific research

By Nicholas Russo, 22 April 2011

Great international scientific advances are being undermined by cuts in funding.

Fifty years since the first manned spaceflight

By Patrick Martin, 16 April 2011

Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in orbit around the Earth, on April 12, 1961.

First spacecraft begins orbiting the planet Mercury

By Patrick Martin, 25 March 2011

MESSENGER is the first space mission to Mercury in more than three decades.

Large Hadron Collider will continue experiments into 2012

By Bryan Dyne and Don Barry, 18 March 2011

The physics research conducted in 2010 has allowed for the Large Hadron Collider to extend its operations through 2011 and 2012.

Planet formation viewed by astronomers

By Chris Talbot, 11 March 2011

Astronomical observation directly confirms the nebular hypothesis of Kant and Laplace.

Fossil discovery confirms “Lucy” walked upright

By Chris Talbot, 25 February 2011

A new 3.2 million-year-old fossil discovery at Hadar, Ethiopia shows that Australopithecus afarensis, an ancestor of modern humans, had arched feet and was “committed” to walking upright.

Stardust spacecraft gives second glimpse of comet Tempel 1

By a reporter, 18 February 2011

The fly-by took place on February 14, some 210 million miles from Earth

Amazon drought highlights impact of global warming

By Chris Talbot, 11 February 2011

Rain forest and the Arctic ice cap are being affected by rising temperatures.

Smallest rocky planet outside our solar system discovered

By Chris Talbot, 28 January 2011

NASA has confirmed this month that its Kepler space observatory has now identified the smallest yet planet outside our solar system, exoplanet Kepler-10b.

Evidence of intensifying climate change grows

By Dan Brennan, 26 January 2011

Global surface temperatures for 2010 matched record highs, with the past decade the hottest ever recorded.

Mars rovers mark seven years on the planet’s surface

By Patrick Martin, 22 January 2011

The two robot exploration vehicles have revolutionized scientific understanding of the planet.

The Denisova discovery: Ancient genomics shed new light on human origins

By Thomas H. Douglass, 17 January 2011

An international team of scientists made headlines last year when they used genetic evidence to show that an ancient people, once living in the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia, were distant cousins of the Neanderthals and contributed to the modern human genome before their extinction.

Recent developments bring quantum computers closer to implementation

By Bryan Dyne, 8 January 2011

Fundamental advances in recent research have led to the ability to more directly manipulate the building blocks of quantum computers.

The Artificial Ape: How humans invented themselves

By Philip Guelpa, 3 January 2011

The new book by Timothy Taylor proposes that a technological invention was critical to the biological evolution of modern humans.

The first spintronic transistor

By Chris Talbot, 31 December 2010

For the first time now, researchers have developed a new type of transistor―running at normal temperatures―that utilises a feature of electrons known as spin, rather than charge.

New species of lemur discovered in Madagascar

By Frances Gaertner, 24 December 2010

What is thought to be a new species of fork-marked lemur has been discovered in the forests of Madagascar.

Bacteria that consumes arsenic boosts search for “alien” life

By Chris Talbot, 10 December 2010

The new bacteria was discovered by a research team at Mono Lake, California.

Brain more complex than previously thought, research reveals

By Chris Talbot, 3 December 2010

Major advances have recently been made that have considerably advanced our understanding of the brain at the level of its cellular structure.

Experiment at CERN traps antimatter atoms

By Bryan Dyne, 27 November 2010

For the first time ever, physicists at CERN have captured antimatter for a long enough time for its properties to be studied.

Struggling California condor population suggests persistence of DDT

By Frances Gaertner and Kristina Betinis, 23 November 2010

Recent reports of a struggling California condor population indicate the persistence of DDT contamination, threatening animal life and human health.

Gamma-ray bubbles discovered around our galaxy

By Chris Talbot, 18 November 2010

A giant structure around our Milky Way galaxy has been discovered by the NASA Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.

LHC particle accelerator begins lead ion collisions

By Bryan Dyne and Don Barry, 13 November 2010

The week, scientists operating the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva shut down its proton-proton collisions to begin colliding lead nuclei.

Fractal visionary dies: Benoit Mandelbrot, 1924-2010

By Chris Talbot, 4 November 2010

Benoit Mandelbrot coined the word fractal in 1975 to describe the revolutionary approach to geometrical mathematics that he pioneered.

Nobel Prize physicists protest British immigration restrictions on scientists

By Chris Talbot, 20 October 2010

Russian-born physicists Konstantin Novoselov and Andre Geim, now based at the University of Manchester, joined six other Nobel Prize winners in opposing the cap on immigrants into Britain from outside the European Union.

Scientist awarded Nobel Prize for developing IVF treatment

By Chris Talbot, 13 October 2010

Robert Edwards has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in recognition of his pioneering work in the technique of in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Scientists directly image an extra-solar planet’s orbit around a young star

By Bryan Dyne, 19 July 2010

For the first time in the history of the search for planets outside the solar system, astronomers have observed a planet going from one side of its parent star to the other.

Large Hadron Collider accelerates particles to record energy level

By Bryan Dyne and Don Barry, 10 May 2010

Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider announced March 30 that the LHC had collided particles to 7 trillion electron-volts, the highest energy ever achieved in such a device.

“Strange Fruit” by Kenan Malik: A polemic against racism and identity politics

By Nancy Hanover, 8 May 2010

Kenan Malik has situated himself in the crosshairs of the dispute over the nature of race, arguing from the standpoint of Enlightenment rationalism and scientific objectivity.

Australia: Sacked workers rally over unpaid entitlements

By Margaret Rees, 3 May 2010

Sacked metalworkers owed unpaid superannuation, leave and other entitlements demonstrated last Friday in Melbourne.

Solar Dynamics Observatory―an eye on the Sun

By Bryan Dyne, 13 March 2010

One month after its successful launch, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory has begun capturing high-resolution images of solar phenomena at 10-second intervals.

Large Hadron Collider to resume operations at CERN

By Bryan Dyne, 22 February 2010

Operations resumed this month at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the huge new experimental device operated by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland. The largest and costliest apparatus ever built to conduct physical research, the LHC was shut down for repairs for a year after an accident.

Spacecraft Kepler discovers five extrasolar planets

By Bryan Dyne, 2 February 2010

NASA reported last month that Kepler, the first spacecraft dedicated to searching for planets beyond our solar system, has discovered its first five extrasolar planets. Though they are uninhabitable for Earth-like life—four of the five are even larger than Jupiter—their rapid discovery indicates that Kepler is fully capable of achieving its primary mission, finding a planet resembling Earth, in future years.

What does particle physics tell us about the nature of matter?

By Chris Talbot, 20 January 2010

Frank Wilczek’s book can be recommended as an attempt to explain to a lay person the implications of more than 50 years of particle physics. Wilczek is a Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist.