science

Italian archaeologists discovered the plundered tomb of Queen Nefertari in Egypt's Valley of the Queens in 1904, and amid the debris, they found a pair of mummified knees. Now, for the first time, researchers have conducted a broad array of tests on the knees and say they are confident they belong to Nefertari, who was the wife of Pharaoh Ramses II and one of the most famous of Egypt's queens. The knees, which are housed at the Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy, have long been presumed to be...

Pandemic flu, Ebola, Nipah virus. Emmie de Wit has held all of them in her hands (with three layers of gloves in between, of course). She's a virologist working at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Montana. The 450-person facility, which is part of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is nestled in a town of 4,000. It's surrounded by mountains and national forests. Only one road passes through. This is where de Wit, who is originally from the Netherlands,...

A single tornado can cause a lot of damage. But even worse are tornado outbreaks. Just this week, a cluster of at least 18 tornadoes struck the Southeast over two days . Scientists are seeing bigger clusters in recent years, and they're struggling to figure out what's happening. When weather conditions are just right — lots of rising heat and moisture, and vertical wind shear — sometimes you get more than just a tornado. Mathematician Michael Tippett at Columbia University, who tracks these...

You may not remember what you were doing a few minutes ago. But your dog probably does. A study of 17 dogs found they could remember and imitate their owners' actions up to an hour later. The results, published Wednesday in Current Biology, suggest that dogs can remember and relive an experience much the way people do. That's probably not a big surprise to people who own dogs, says Claudia Fugazza , an author of the study and an animal behavior researcher at Eotvos Lorand University...

When the asteroid believed to have killed off the dinosaurs smashed into Earth some 66 million years ago, its sheer force made the planet's surface momentarily act like a liquid. The asteroid ripped open a 60-mile-wide hole. From miles deep in that abyss, rock hurtled upward to a height twice that of Mount Everest and then collapsed outward to form a ring of mountains. And it all happened within 5 minutes — 10 tops, as Sean Gulick , a geophysicist at the University of Texas, Austin, tells The...

A bloody Taj Mahal . A haunted Colosseum . A toxic Capitol Hill . Welcome to the "Nightmare Machine," a horror-imagery project created by three researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Pinar Yanardag, Manuel Cebrian and Iyad Rahwan used artificial intelligence algorithms "to learn how haunted houses, or toxic cities look. ... Then, we apply the learnt style to famous landmarks and present [to] you: AI-powered horror all over the world!" The project website is up just in time...

Next month, there's a world chess championship match in New York City, and the two competitors, the assembled grandmasters, the budding chess prodigies, the older chess fans — everyone paying attention — will know this indisputable fact: A computer could win the match hands down. They've known as much for almost 20 years — ever since May 11, 1997. On that day, IBM's Deep Blue defeated the great Garry Kasparov who, after an early blunder, resigned in defeat. "I am ashamed by what I did at the...

When an 8-year old boy showed up at his school's clinic in rural Haiti with a low-grade fever and abdominal pain, he was told he had typhoid and given medicine to treat it. But blood tests showed something else: Mayaro, a mosquito-borne virus that may now be circulating in the Caribbean. The Haitian boy remains an isolated case. Still, the new finding, reported in the November issue of a CDC journal, suggests the need for vigilance — along with more research into why viral epidemics seem to...

We talk about war and human violence every day on the news program I host, The World. But, as experimental psychologist Steven Pinker reminded me recently, "You don't say where things are going right. What about all the parts of the world that used to be in flames, just consumed by war, but which are now at peace?" Pinker and his Harvard colleague, the primatologist Richard Wrangham , joined me at a science media summit in Boston last week to examine whether humans are on track to build a...

Many Americans are familiar with the astronaut heroes of the 20th century space race — names like Gus Grissom and Neil Armstrong. But who did the calculations that would successfully land these men on the moon? Several of the NASA researchers who made space flight possible were women. Among them were black women who played critical roles in the aeronautics industry even as Jim Crow was alive and well. "When the first five black women took their seat in the office in 1943, it was in a...

The largest radio telescope in the world officially opened on Sunday, according to China's official Xinhua News . The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, is named after its diameter, which at 500 meters makes it 195 meters wider than the second largest telescope of its kind, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico . Xinhua reports the telescope cost $180 million, and displaced 8,000 people from their homes to create the necessary 3-mile radius of radio silence around the...

Congratulations are in order, kind of, for a few exemplary researchers and one massive multinational corporation. This year's Ig Nobel awards — the rather-less-noble-than-the-Nobel awards for "improbable" research and accomplishments — were announced Thursday night. The honorees included a man who lived as a goat, a man who lived as a badger, a man who put tiny pants on rats and tracked their sex lives, a team who investigated the personalities of rocks, and Volkswagen. The prizes are given...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcU-sZJkh_U A group of nano-scientists has discovered a way to arrange individual atoms to store and rewrite data 500 times more efficiently than the best hard drives on the market. A team of researchers from the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain has made a major breakthrough in so-called atomic memory — an approach that stores one bit of data on each atom with a goal of creating a new kind of tiny data storage device of the future. With this technology, little...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3M75f4D9pwg Researchers are developing a system to teach robots how to feel pain. That might seem counterintuitive, as IEEE Spectrum points out . After all, "One of the most useful things about robots is that they don't feel pain." That means "we have no problem putting them to work in dangerous environments or having them perform tasks that range between slightly unpleasant and definitely fatal to a human." But the researchers from Leibniz University...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VopaBsuwikk NASA called off today's effort to inflate an expandable module attached to the International Space Station after its first attempt fell flat. The module is called BEAM, Bigelow Expandable Activity Module . It's a prototype of what could be a new kind of living quarters in space. The advantage of an expandable module is that it can be folded so it takes up less room in a cargo rocket, and then expanded once it reaches space. Folded up, BEAM looks like...

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