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Heat in Jupiter’s Moon Europa Might Have Made Its Oceans Habitable

Heat in Jupiter’s Moon Europa Might Have Made Its Oceans Habitable

Europa is Jupiter’s sixth-largest moon, but it's smaller than Earth’s moon and hosts an ocean that may be twice the volume of Earth’s own. Now, presented at the suggests that, based on how the Jovial moon’s ocean formed, Europa may have been capable of supporting life.Researchers at the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) developed a new computer model to demonstrate how radioactive heating inside of Europa could have caused the ocean to form, Will Dunham reports for . The ocean—positioned above the moon's layered interior—is blanketed with ice about sits on top of the ocean.The computer...

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Theresa Machemer
6d ago
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Painted Bronze Age Monkeys Hint at the Interconnectedness of the Ancient World

Painted Bronze Age Monkeys Hint at the Interconnectedness of the Ancient World

As far as archaeologists know, Asian monkeys weren’t trotting the globe during the Bronze Age. That’s why a millennia-old Greek painting of a gray langur—a primate native to the Indian subcontinent—was surprising enough to stop researchers dead in their tracks.Archaeologists and primatologists re-analyzing wall paintings found in Akrotiri, a Minoan settlement on Thera (modern-day Santorini) buried by volcanic ash around 1600 B.C., have uncovered evidence that Bronze Age Greek artists knew of—and may have even seen—monkeys whose native habitat was thousands of miles away. Their findings,...

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Katherine J. Wu
Dec 16
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The True Story of Kudzu, the Vine That Never Truly Ate the South

The True Story of Kudzu, the Vine That Never Truly Ate the South

As a young naturalist growing up in the Deep South, I feared kudzu. I’d walk an extra mile to avoid patches of it and the writhing knots of snakes that everyone said were breeding within. Though fascinated by the grape-scented flowers and the purple honey produced by visiting bees, I trembled at the monstrous green forms climbing telephone poles and trees on the edges of our roads and towns.Introduced from Asia in the late 19th century as a garden novelty, but not widely planted until the 1930s, kudzu is now America’s most infamous weed. In a few decades, a conspicuously Japanese name has...

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Bill Finch
Aug 24
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The History of D.C.'s Epic and Unfinished Struggle for Statehood and Self-Governance

The History of D.C.'s Epic and Unfinished Struggle for Statehood and Self-Governance

Editor's Note, June 25, 2020: As the U.S. Congress prepares to vote on the question of statehood for Washington, D.C., we are resurfacing this story from our archives detailing the long history of this effort.Across the 68-square-mile city, nestled on the banks of the Potomac River between Maryland and Virginia, a debate continues over , control of the city’s affairs, and fair representation—a single, non-voting represents its nearly 706,000 citizens in Congress. That struggle dates to a 12-year period from the early 1960s to mid-1980s, a time of uprising, protest and seismic change that...

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Roger Catlin
Dec 23
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Botched Art Restoration Renders Virgin Mary Unrecognizable

Botched Art Restoration Renders Virgin Mary Unrecognizable

In the past decade, tales of art “restorations” gone wrong have alternatively delighted and horrified social media users. Many of these fiascos have happened in Spain: Take, for instance, a disfigured fresco of Jesus, now known as the , that went viral in 2012, or a that underwent “unrestoration” after a failed attempt left its subject looking more like than a legendary dragon slayer.Now, another ill-fated artistic endeavor has surfaced in Spain. As Spanish news agency reports, a private collector in Valéncia paid €1,200 (around $1,350 USD) to have a painting of the Virgin Mary cleaned and...

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Nora McGreevy
Jun 25
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What Will Happen to Stone Mountain, America’s Largest Confederate Memorial?

What Will Happen to Stone Mountain, America’s Largest Confederate Memorial?

Baltimore uprooted General Lee . New Orleans removed its to mixed reactions—some voicing relief, others, disapproval. And with the violence that followed the events in Charlottesville, when white nationalists  killed one counter-protestor and , the question of how America deals with its history of racism has continued to grow in urgency.But what’s a state to do when the monument in question is carved 42 feet deep and 400 feet above ground into a granite mountain, with figures of General Lee, General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and President of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis larger than the...

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Lorraine Boissoneault
Aug 22
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A Brief History of Anti-Fascism

A Brief History of Anti-Fascism

traveled across the Atlantic in 1937 to fight fascists in the Spanish Civil War, where he became known as “El Fantastico” for his prowess with a grenade. As a platoon sergeant with the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion of the International Brigades, the 25-year-old African American from Mississippi commanded white troops and led them into battle against the forces of General Franco, men who saw him as less than human. It might seem strange for a Black man to go to such lengths for the chance to fight in a white man’s war so far from home—wasn’t there enough racism to fight in the United...

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James Stout
Jun 24
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Bright Patches on Saturn’s Largest Moon Are Dried-Up Lake Beds

Bright Patches on Saturn’s Largest Moon Are Dried-Up Lake Beds

New research suggests mysterious bright spots seen at the equator of ’s moon may be dried up lake beds, reports Lisa Grossman for . The new research, published this week in the journal , offers an explanation for a phenomenon first observed in 2000.is the ringed planet’s and is the second largest moon in the entire solar system. The mega-moon is also the only one known to have a substantial atmosphere.Between 2000 and 2008, radio telescopes at the in Puerto Rico and the in West Virginia identified roughly a dozen spots at Titan’s equator that were bouncing anomalously bright radio signals...

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Alex Fox
Jun 19
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Green Glow Detected in Mars' Atmosphere

Green Glow Detected in Mars' Atmosphere

The Red Planet’s atmosphere glows green, scientists announced this week.Scientists have long known that Earth’s upper atmosphere glows a bright emerald shade and have photographed the phenomenon, known as airglow, from the International Space Station. But spotting the airglow on Mars is the first time the phenomenon has been detected on a planet other than Earth, reports Jonathan Amos for .The European Space Agency’s spotted Mars’ upper atmosphere emitting a greenish glow, it announced this week in a statement. The team published a study featuring their discovery in the journal this...

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Nora McGreevy
Jun 18
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NASA Releases Rainbow-Colored Images of Martian Moon Phobos

NASA Releases Rainbow-Colored Images of Martian Moon Phobos

Three newly released images of Mars’ moon Phobos resemble brightly colored candies—and could lead to some sweet discoveries, too.NASA’s spacecraft captured these new images, with rainbow hues indicating temperature variations on the planet, according to a from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Using Odyssey’s infrared camera—a device known as is Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS)—scientists took three pictures of the small moon in December 2019, and February and March 2020.The December image captures Phobos at full-moon phase, when a large part of its surface is exposed to the sun and...

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Nora McGreevy
Jun 19
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The International Space Station Just Became a Powerful Tool for Tracking Animal Migration

The International Space Station Just Became a Powerful Tool for Tracking Animal Migration

In 2018, scientists launched an antenna into space dedicated solely to tracking the world’s animals. From its perch 240 miles above Earth on the International Space Station, the antenna receives signals from tiny transmitters attached to more than 800 species of animal ranging from elephants to bats, reports Katharine Gammon for . After some early setbacks, the tracking system was switched on in March. Data from the project may be available to researchers on Earth as early as this fall, according to a ."The sensors allow animals to be our eyes and ears and noses in the world, and we are...

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Alex Fox
Jun 11
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Watch This Black Hole Spew Gas and Energy Into Space

Watch This Black Hole Spew Gas and Energy Into Space

Researchers have recorded a black hole spewing enormous amounts of hot gas and energy into space, according to a . As Dennis Overbye reports for the , the video created by researchers resembles a black hole blowing bubbles—except the reality is much less whimsical.Led by Mathilde Espinasse from the University of Paris, a team working with NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory conducted four observations of the black hole in November 2018 and in February, May, and June 2019. From those four recordings, they were able to piece together a time-lapse sequence of images that shows massive quantities...

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Nora McGreevy
Jun 11
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Astronaut Kathy Sullivan Becomes First Woman to Reach Deepest Part of the Ocean

Astronaut Kathy Sullivan Becomes First Woman to Reach Deepest Part of the Ocean

In 1984, NASA astronaut Kathy Sullivan made history as the . Now, 36 years later, Sullivan has made history again as the first woman to travel to the deepest part of the ocean floor.After completing her trip Monday, Sullivan is now the first person ever to both walk in space and make the 35,810-foot descent to Challenger Deep, the lowest part of the Marianas Trench, as Heather Murphy reports for the . According to a from EYOS Expeditions, the company who operates the submersible Sullivan traveled in, she has become just the eighth person ever to travel to Challenger Deep.The 68-year-old...

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Nora McGreevy
Jun 10
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The Sun Produced Its Biggest Solar Flare Since 2017

The Sun Produced Its Biggest Solar Flare Since 2017

Last month, the massive, hot ball of glowing hydrogen and helium at the center of our solar system—otherwise known as our —released its largest solar flare since October 2017. Although it’s too early to know for certain, NASA says in a that this new activity might indicate that the sun is “waking up” from its cyclical slumber.As Hannah Osbourne reports for , activity on the sun’s surface increases and decreases according to a roughly 11-year cycle, although that can vary. During the period known as the solar minimum, the sun has few sunspots and decreased surface activity; during the solar...

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Nora McGreevy
Jun 9
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The Last Person to Receive a Civil War Pension Dies at Age 90

The Last Person to Receive a Civil War Pension Dies at Age 90

As protests against and continue, Confederate monuments across the nation have been with spray paint, by crowds and even .The weathered, oxidized surfaces of these monuments seemingly suggest that the battle over slavery is a distant chapter in American history. But until May 31, the United States government was still paying out a Civil War pension, reports Michael M. Phillips for the .Irene Triplett, who died last month at the age of 90, received a check for $73.13 every month. Her father, Mose Triplett, served as a private in the Confederate Army before deserting and shifting his...

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Alex Fox
Jun 8
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Cicadas Are Delightful Weirdos You Should Learn to Love

Cicadas Are Delightful Weirdos You Should Learn to Love

Around this time of year, hosts dozens of houseguests in her basement. Far from using camping equipment or cots, they sleep upside-down, clinging to a curtain. The entomologist at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has collected cicadas, those bizarre and misunderstood cyclical insects, for four years.“In Illinois, we have 20 species, and hardly anything is known about them,” Alleyne says. “We know very little about what they’re doing underground.”Cicadas have a longstanding reputation as loud, swarming pests that keep obnoxiously particular schedules. In the United States, they...

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Jun 3
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Bald Eagle Nest With Eggs Spotted on Cape Cod for the First Time in 115 Years

Bald Eagle Nest With Eggs Spotted on Cape Cod for the First Time in 115 Years

For the first time in 115 years, wildlife officials have spotted a nest with eggs on Cape Cod. This find marks an exciting development as the bald eagle population continues to soar to new heights in the Massachusetts area, officials say in a .As Caroline Enos reports for the , officials from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife spotted the nest in the town of Barnstable. The new nest is the first sighting since 1905, when a nest with eggs was spotted in nearby Sandwich.MassWildlife announced in the statement that it had documented more than 70 active bald eagle nests in...

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Nora McGreevy
Jun 2
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The Great Koala Rescue Operation

The Great Koala Rescue Operation

A young koala recovers at the wildlife park hospital.ByI ​arrived on Kangaroo Island bracing myself for the sight of acres of blackened trees and white ash, but I had not expected the parasitic bright green vines wrapped around almost every charred trunk, glowing phosphorescent in the sunlight. This was no parasite, I learned. It was epicormic growth, bursting directly from the burnt trunks themselves, a desperate bid for photosynthesis in the absence of a leaf canopy.The growth looks nothing like a eucalyptus tree’s normal adult leaves. It’s soft and waxy, with rounded edges instead of...

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Ceridwen Dovey
May 27
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Copper’s Virus-Killing Powers Were Known Even to the Ancients

Copper’s Virus-Killing Powers Were Known Even to the Ancients

When researchers reported last month that the novel coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic survives for days on glass and stainless steel but dies within hours after landing on copper, the only thing that surprised Bill Keevil was that the pathogen lasted so long on copper.Keevil, a at the University of Southampton (U.K.), has studied the antimicrobial effects of copper for more than two decades. He has watched in his laboratory as the simple metal slew one bad bug after another. He began with the bacteria that causes Legionnaire's Disease and then turned to drug-resistant killer...

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Jim Morrison
Apr 14
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Ancient Roman Mosaic Floor Unearthed Beneath Italian Vineyard

Ancient Roman Mosaic Floor Unearthed Beneath Italian Vineyard

Archaeologists conducting excavations at a vineyard in northern Italy have unearthed a well-preserved mosaic floor thought to date to the third century A.D., reports Angela Giuffrida for the . The swath of multi-colored, intricately patterned tiles once formed part of the foundation of a Roman villa.Officials first discovered traces of the ancient residence in a hilly area above the town of Negrar di Valpolicella, near , in 1922. But it took nearly a century for researchers to return to the site, according to Camilla Madinelli of local newspaper . A team from the Superintendent of...

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Nora McGreevy
May 27
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In 1919, the Mayor of Oakland Was Arrested for Failing to Wear a Mask

In 1919, the Mayor of Oakland Was Arrested for Failing to Wear a Mask

Starting in 1918, as the Bay Area suffered through the flu pandemic, Californians crafted masks of gauze, an open-weave fabric perhaps hard-pressed to stop microscopic particles, even when folded to a thickness of six, as the Oakland Red Cross advised. As a hub for soldiers returning from war, Oakland and San Francisco were targeted by influenza. By the end of the pandemic in 1920, around had died of the disease.The city’s mayor, John L. Davie, was in his second stint of an eventual five in the executive office when the pandemic struck. The walrus-mustached gentleman (in photos he resembles...

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May 21
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Why Immunity to the Novel Coronavirus Is So Complicated

Why Immunity to the Novel Coronavirus Is So Complicated

Just weeks before, the 27-year-old from Toronto had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The symptoms hit him hard: headache, cough, sore throat and fatigue that relegated him to his bed 15 hours a day. “It didn’t matter how many times I napped,” he says. “I was tired until the next time I napped again.”Valleteau, a researcher coordinator at a pharmaceutical company, spent two weeks self-isolating and recovering, then decided he wanted to help others do the same. He contacted a local researcher and offered up his blood—along with the disease-fighting...

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Katherine J. Wu
May 26
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Blue Bee Feared to Be Extinct Is Found in Florida

Blue Bee Feared to Be Extinct Is Found in Florida

As soon as the blue calamintha bee arrived on the scene, scientists worried it might be gone for good.The indigo insect was in central Florida in 2016, five years after it was first identified. But this spring, just as Americans began to hunker down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rare blue bees, known scientifically as Osmia calaminthae, were rediscovered in the same region foraging on , a dainty violet flower that blooms in certain scrub habitats.Chase Kimmel of the Florida Museum of Natural History confirmed the bees’ survival in March. At first, he couldn’t believe his own eyes....

smithsonianmag.com
May 26
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Cold-Blooded, but Not Cold-Hearted, Garter Snakes Form Friendships

Cold-Blooded, but Not Cold-Hearted, Garter Snakes Form Friendships

Garter snakes are some of the snakes in North America. As the weather warms up, they can be spotted slithering across lawns or sunning on rocks. Their range spans from Canada to Costa Rica, and new evidence suggests they don’t go it alone. Instead, garter snakes seem to form social bonds.The research, published last month in the journal , looked at the behavior of 40 garter snakes—30 of them wild-caught, 10 captive-bred. When placed in an enclosure with a limited number of hiding places, the snakes not only formed groups, but returned to the same cliques after they were scrambled around....

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Theresa Machemer
May 18
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How Historic Preservation Shaped the Early United States

How Historic Preservation Shaped the Early United States

In the middle of the 19th century, the homes of two founding fathers, John Hancock and George Washington, were in danger of being torn down. For the Massachusetts patriot with the famous signature, it was his house just off of Boston Common in the city’s urban center. For the nation’s first president, it was his rural Virginia estate, Mount Vernon.The press covered the potential destruction of the two sites with horror, and according to historian Whitney Martinko, the divergent fates of these homes encapsulates the history of historic preservation in the United States. While the Mount...

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Karin Wulf
May 14
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