Insects navigate in much the same way that ancient humans did: using the sky. Their primary cue is the position of the sun, but insects can also detect properties of skylight (the blue light scattered by the upper atmosphere) that give them indirect information about the sun’s position. Skylight cues include gradients in brightness and colour across the sky and the way light is polarised by the atmosphere. Together, these sky “compass cues” allow many insect species to hold a stable course.
Most people assume if you’re unlucky enough to be bitten by a crocodile, then a severed limb or other severe trauma is all you have to worry about. But new research is emerging about serious infections you can catch from a bite that might kill you instead.
Wet weather at the end of the last ice age appears to have helped drive the ecosystems of large grazing animals, such as mammoths and giant sloths, extinct across vast swathes of Eurasia and the Americas, according to our new research.
The first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970, catalyzed a wave of laws to protect the environment and natural resources. Here Thomas Straka, a professor of forest economics and management and former industrial forester, answers questions about the current state of U.S. forests.
Twitter’s been on fire with people amazed by cats that seem compelled to park themselves in squares of tape marked out on the floor. These felines appear powerless to resist the call of the #CatSquare.
Around 250 million years ago, life on Earth nearly came to an end, in a mass extinction between the Permian and Triassic periods known as the Great Dying. Some 90% of the species in the oceans and 70% of vertebrate families on land were killed, and the great marine life experiment of the Palaeozoic era was brought to a halt.
If you took geology in high school, then chances you remember learning something about how the Earth’s crust = the outermost layer of Earth – is arranged into a series of tectonic plates. These plates float on top of the Earth’s mantle, the semi-viscous layer that surrounds the core, and are in constant motion because of convection in the mantle. Where two plates meet, you have what it is known as a boundary.
When we visit a friend or go to the beach, our brain stores a short-term memory of the experience in a part of the brain called the hippocampus. Those memories are later “consolidated” — that is, transferred to another part of the brain for longer-term storage.
Without knowing it, most Americans rely every day on a class of chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFASs. These man-made materials have unique qualities that make them extremely useful. They repel both water and grease, so they are found in food packaging, waterproof fabric, carpets and wall paint.
Severe water shortages already affect many regions around the world, and are expected to get much worse as the population grows and the climate heats up. But a new technology developed by scientists at MIT and the University of California at Berkeley could provide a novel way of obtaining clean, fresh water almost anywhere on Earth, by drawing water directly from moisture in the air even in the driest of locations.
The appearance of vivid bluebell carpets in British woodlands is a sure and spectacular sign of spring. Bluebells – Hyacinthoides non-scripta (L.) Chouard ex Rothm – are Britain’s favourite wildflower and particularly fine carpets attract visitors to well-known sites such as Kew Gardens in London and Coed Cefn in Powys, Wales.
What the hell is that? Scientists ask this question every day when trying to work out how different living things are related to each other. The answers aren’t easy or trivial. Biological affiliations are used not just to build a catalogue of life but also to understand how life has evolved into its many forms.
The natural structure found within leaves could improve the performance of everything from rechargeable batteries to high-performance gas sensors, according to an international team of scientists. The researchers have designed a porous, such as the veins of a leaf, and could make energy transfers more efficient. The material could improve the performance of rechargeable batteries, optimizing the charge and discharge process and relieving stresses within the battery electrodes, which, at the moment, limit their life span. The same material could be used for high performance gas sensing or for catalysis to break down organic pollutants in water.
One of the biggest modern myths about agriculture is that organic farming is inherently sustainable. It can be, but it isn’t necessarily. After all, soil erosion from chemical-free tilled fields undermined the Roman Empire and other ancient societies around the world. Other agricultural myths hinder recognizing the potential to restore degraded soils to feed the world using fewer agrochemicals.
More than a century of theory about the evolutionary history of dinosaurs has been turned on its head following the publication of new research from scientists at the University of Cambridge and Natural History Museum in London. Their work suggests that the family groupings need to be rearranged, re-defined and re-named and also that dinosaurs may have originated in the northern hemisphere rather than the southern, as current thinking goes.
A team of scientists at the University of Cambridge has developed a way of using solar power to generate a fuel that is both sustainable and relatively cheap to produce. It’s using natural light to generate hydrogen from biomass.
This view, acquired on Nov. 7, 2016, by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8, shows a portion of Canada's Mackenzie River Delta and the town of Inuvik, home to more than 3,000 people. A frozen highway -- 194 kilometers (120 miles) long -- runs between the remote outposts of Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk along the river’s East Channel. White, snow-and-ice covered waterways stand out amid green, pine-covered land. The low angle of the sunlight bathes the higher elevations in golden light.
Most of us take it for granted that the taps in our homes will deliver safe and clean water for drinking, cooking, showering and cleaning. This means there is usually little interest from the public in how the water gets there. However, it took less than a day for a story from Onoway, a small town in Alberta, Canada, with just over 1,000 residents, to make it from social media to global newsfeeds. “Bright pink water comes out of taps in Canada!” – suddenly we are all interested in water treatment methods.