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How to Search for Life as We Don’t Know It

In my freshman seminar at Harvard last semester, I mentioned that the nearest star to the sun, Proxima Centauri, emits mostly infrared radiation and has a planet, Proxima b, in the habitable zone around it. As a challenge to the students, I asked: “Suppose there are creatures crawling on the surface of Proxima b? What […]

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China Says It Will Stop Financing Coal Power Abroad

China will stop building coal-fired power projects in other countries, President Xi Jinping said yesterday in an announcement that’s expected to accelerate the global shift away from fossil fuels. The pledge, made at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, comes as other industrialized nations are reversing economic policies that fueled the construction of coal […]

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Astronomers Should be Willing to Look Closer at Weird Objects in the Sky

When purchasing a new phone or tablet, it is common practice to select the best technology that fits your needs within the available budget. This is also the strategy adopted by our research team at the Galileo Project, a new initiative to image unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) like those reported by the Office of the […]

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Misophonia Might Not Be about Hating Sounds After All

To a chef, the sounds of lip smacking, slurping and swallowing are the highest form of flattery. But to someone with a certain type of misophonia, these same sounds can be torturous. Brain scans are now helping scientists start to understand why. People with misophonia experience strong discomfort, annoyance or disgust when they hear particular […]

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Why So Many Young People Hate STEM Courses

Ever since I can remember, I was constantly asking questions. My parents called me “Miss Inquisity” because of it. I was that quirky kid on the playground who played with butterflies and spied for ladybugs. After I came home from school, I binged How It’s Made on the Science Channel. Oh, that’s what makes my […]

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NASA Investigates Renaming James Webb Space Telescope after Anti-LGBT+ Claims

NASA is considering whether to rename its flagship astronomical observatory, given reports alleging that James Webb, after whom it is named, was involved in persecuting gay and lesbian people during his career in government. Keeping his name on the US$8.8-billion James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)—set to launch later this year—would glorify bigotry and anti-LGBT+ sentiment, […]

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Heat Wave Death Toll Will Rise With Thorough Count

When the Washington State Department of Health said this week that the recent heat wave in the Northwest had killed 117 people, many people missed an important word in the announcement. Preliminary. The death tallies being released by state and county officials are early estimates based on records that the officials acknowledge typically undercount heat-related […]

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Western Drought Has Lasted Longer than the Dust Bowl

It has lasted longer than the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. It’s dropped water levels perilously low at two of the nation’s largest reservoirs, forced ranchers to sell off herds and helped propel scorching wildfires. And worst of all, the drought blanketing the western United States is not going away. A group of experts featuring […]

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To Save Bats and Their Habitats, We Must Protect the Land Rights of Indigenous People

In the spring of 2020, as COVID was ravaging communities across the globe, word spread to the village of Culden, Peru, that the virus that causes COVID originated in bats. Mistakenly believing that the animals spread the virus to humans, inhabitants of the village burned a nearby colony of mouse-eared bats, intent on extermination. During […]

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Drought Threatens to Close California Hydropower Plant for First Time

A California power plant likely will shut down for the first time ever because of low water during a prolonged drought, squeezing the state’s very tight electricity supplies, state officials said yesterday. The Edward Hyatt power plant, an underground facility next to Oroville Dam in Butte County, is expected to close in August or September, […]