The good and bad smells of flowers
Plants rely on pollinating insects to visit their flowers and spread their pollen to other flowers. That's how they reproduce -- with help from visiting insects. But a plant must first look and smell good enough to attract a pollinating insect to its flowers.
The nose's danger detector
Plants, fish, insects and mammals all emit chemical alarm signals to their fellow species members when they're in distress. These signals are molecules called "pheromones," and they're a real puzzle.
A lack of oxygen in the oceans
Imagine there was a room in your home that you could not breathe in. Or try to picture a neighborhood in your town that does not have enough oxygen. Whenever you went into that room or neighborhood, you simply could not take a breath.
Bend me, stretch me, connect me
Ever wish you could roll up your TV or computer and carry it in your backpack? Play with a robot that moves its limbs like a human does? Researchers are thinking about how to build all kinds of bendy, stretchy electronic devices, but first they're going to need a bendy, stretchy material that can conduct electricity.
The best place to live underwater
New York City has a population of more than 8 million people. The region of Japan known as Tokyo metropolis has almost 13 million people living in its different neighborhoods. It seems like certain areas of the world just naturally attract large numbers of people, for one reason or another.
Space weather mystery solved?
Near the north and south pole, you can sometimes see colorful light displays in the sky, called the aurora borealis in the northern hemisphere (also known as the northern lights) and the aurora australis in the southern hemisphere.
Grunt, growl and channel your inner fish
Scowls perpetually, communicates with grunts and growls, spends lots of effort attracting mates and defending territory -- no, it's not the human teenager, it's the toadfish!
The makings of an avalanche
One of the most serious dangers you could face in the mountains is an avalanche of snow coming towards you. These destructive forces of nature present a serious risk to both life and property, often demolishing everything in their path.
Parks can help the people they keep out
Creating nature preserves, where elephants, gorillas and other endangered animals and plants can live without being killed or disturbed by humans, is probably our best bet for keeping these species alive. But, what happens to the people who lived on or used the land before it was turned into a preserve? Some people worry that creating parks or preserves is basically saying that wildlife is important than people.
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How birds of a feather flock together
The bird family tree has some surprises tucked away in its branches, according to a new study by Shannon Hackett of Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History and her fellow researchers. For instance, would you believe that parrots and pigeons are kind of bird-sisters?
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History lessons from a volcano
Volcanic eruptions are constantly changing the face of our planet, as well as other rocky planets scattered across the universe. Underneath the solid earth, hot magma, or liquid rock, stirs about, sometimes rising to the surface or blasting out of a volcano. The expelled lava then covers the ground and eventually cools to form new rocks and crystals -- a brand new solid surface on top of the old one.
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What do we need forests for?
This week, Science takes a closer look at the world's forests and how they influence the environment around us.
How mountains grow
Our planet's core is surrounded first by a layer of Earth known as the mantle, and then by the outermost layer, called the crust. The Earth's mantle and crust are constantly shifting around beneath our feet, and over long periods of time those underground movements can actually shape the landscape around us, forming things like mountains and rivers and islands.
Infant supernova reveals details of its birth
About 300 years ago, a nearby star in our galaxy became a supernova and exploded in a bright flash of light. The light from that explosion is still traveling through space, and it's helping researchers answer many questions about the details of the actual supernova.
Megafloods carved land in Idaho -- and on Mars?
A new study of Idaho's Box Canyon, which is similar to canyons on Mars, may shake up our view of how water sculpted the landscape on the Red Planet. For a long time, geologists have assumed that Box Canyon was formed through gradual erosion, as groundwater seeped through the canyon walls and wore the rock away. They also figured this was true for other canyons that are made of volcanic rock and shaped like Box Canyon – which includes many of the canyons on Mars.
Birds defy gravity to eat
Have you ever wondered how some birds with long beaks eat and drink? Well, researchers have discovered a new way that some shorebirds get their food, and it's more complicated than you might have thought!
Seaweed a staple for early Americans
You are an archaeologist excavating a site that was inhabited by some of the earliest people to live in the Americas, about 14,000 years ago. You find ancient fragments of preserved seaweed scattered across the floors and stuck to an ancient cutting tool.
Tiny metal pine trees with a twist
Some things -- like iPods and laptop computers -- just keep getting smaller and smaller. And scientists are trying to shrink these kinds of gadgets even further, using parts that can be as tiny as the width of a human hair. But as researchers are finding out, it can be tricky to create building blocks that stack into neat patterns at this small size.
Family history of Mastodon and T. rex
Mastodon and Tyrannosaurus rex now have a place on the vertebrate family tree, thanks to a new study.
Don't eat the spiders!
Mercury in polluted rivers doesn't just affect aquatic life. Scientists have discovered that spiders, moths and grasshoppers living near the water can deliver mercury to the food chain on land when they become tasty treats for birds.
Seizing an opportunity in Madagascar
Approximately 50 percent of plant and over 70 percent of vertebrate species are crammed into biodiversity "hotspots" that make up only 2.3 percent of Earth's land surface. Madagascar is one of these hotspots, and its government is planning to triple the amount of the protected land where the plants and animals can live without interference from humans.
Bats eat as many bugs as birds do
Insects are fast food for birds flying through tropical forests, which munch on them all day long. But things aren't much safer for the bugs at night, two groups of scientists found out recently. It turns out that bats eat lots of insects when the sun goes down in the forests. In fact, they may eat as many insects as the birds do during the day.
Mystery of the squid beak solved
A squid's mouth has a sharp beak that it uses to slice through the spinal cord of fish and tear them into pieces for an easy-to-eat meal. The squid beak is made out of some of the hardest material found in nature.
Colossal blasts from ancient volcanoes
When Mt. Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines, in June of 1991, it blasted enough gas and dust into the air to block some of the sunlight in the atmosphere, causing the Earth's global climate to cool for a few years.
The story of the earliest Americans
Before 30,000 years ago, there wasn't anyone living anywhere in North or South America. These continents were some of the last places on Earth to be filled with people. But, the story of who those people were, how they got there and what they did when they came is becoming less of a mystery.
Funding provided by the William T. Golden Endowment Fund for Program Innovation at AAAS.