China visits moon!

China visits moon!
As scientists find new surprises in Apollo’s 40-year-old rock collection, gravity studies by an over-achieving satellite duo provide a fascinating X-ray vision as big as the moon itself. More »

As snow goes, where go the animals?

As snow goes, where go the animals?
Animals like the wolverine evolved to live in the snow, and they excel in conditions that defeat most animals. How will they fare if (when?) snow continues to decline in their homes? And whassup with the balmy but hidden ecosystem under the snow? More »

Stimulation: Too much could hurt when you are young.

Stimulation: Too much could hurt when you are young.
Growing brains need blood. But persistent noise or activity both slow formation of new vessels in the brain of a mouse. Mice aren’t people, but this result might interest new parents! More »

Cholera strikes Haiti, spreads

Cholera strikes Haiti, spreads
As Haiti copes with thousands of deaths, scientists try to understand how weather affects cholera, and how to battle a feces-borne disease in a country lacking good sanitation and clean water. More »

First neutrinos from outer space

First neutrinos from outer space
Neutrinos are almost invisible, but a 1-kilometer cube of ice has found 28 from beyond the solar system. Some are from other galaxies. Neutrinos seldom interact with anything, so they are pristine messengers from deepest space. Next job: Reading that message. More »

Typhoon flogs Philippines

Typhoon flogs Philippines
As scientists try to understand the biggest storms in a warming earth, we try to make sense of what’s known, and what’s not. Does adding energy to the Earth system cause more titanic storms – or does it blow them apart before the real destruction begins? More »

Understanding the Russian asteroid

Understanding the Russian asteroid
The biggest asteroid to strike land in 105 years sheds light on where space rocks come from, how many more might hit us, and what we should do about them. Ready for a “cylindrical nuclear bomb”? More »

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!
Halloween is supposed to be fun, but there’s a disturbing undercurrent of real belief in unreal stuff. Wish The Why Files luck as we struggle to explain why so many people believe in spirits, zombies or communication with the dead! More »

Old and distant galaxy

Old and distant galaxy
A faint smudge — with the dark red insignia of super-old light — distinguishes the oldest galaxy ever seen. The old gal was active in a period when the universe was very different, but still looks a bit like a midget-size modern galaxy. More »

Dangerous viruses: New weapons against new foes

Dangerous viruses: New weapons against new foes
Old-style outbreak investigations can take years. Mammals may carry 320,000 viruses. Some can start an epidemic if they “jump” to people. Can ecological knowledge support new prevention strategies to block the “jumpers”? More »

Phosphorus + nitrogen: Let no good deed go unpunished

Phosphorus + nitrogen: Let no good deed go unpunished
First we focused on cutting nitrogen pollution. Then we switched to phosphorus. Now we hear that cutting the second raises the first. What does the law of unintended consequences say about dealing with surface water pollution? More »

Stopping the slaughter of the bats

Stopping the slaughter of the bats
In 7 years, white-nose syndrome has spread to 24 states and 5 provinces. Why is the fungus so deadly? Why don’t bats die in Europe? And where are the chinks in its armor? More »

Got gears? Let’s leap, says the leafhopper!

Got gears? Let's leap, says the leafhopper!

25 Simple machines are rare in biology, but gears create microsecond timing in one high-jumping insect. Quiz question: What other natural structure pivots at the rate of 550 times a second? More »

Weather: [More data + more computers = better forecasts]

Weather: [More data + more computers = better forecasts]

Weather forecasts improve, but who’s ever satisfied? Check some around-the-corner technologies that will paint a better picture of tomorrow — especially in hot, stormy summer days. What is the promise of GPS, better radar and “hyperspectral” instruments? More »