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5,000 Exoplanets! NASA Confirms a Cosmic Milestone

Our tally of strange new worlds just reached 5,000. Astronomers have added the 5,000th alien world to the NASA Exoplanet Archive, officials with the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California announced on Monday (March 21). The milestone comes amid a surge of recent discoveries and the promise of more insights to come, as NASA’s $10 billion James […]

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Snakes’ and Lizards’ Slow and Steady Evolution Won the Race

Earth is crawling with lizards and snakes. More than 10,000 species of these reptiles, called squamates, have adapted to thrive across almost every continent. But this vast assortment took a surprisingly long time to develop, according to University of Bristol paleontologist Jorge Herrera-Flores and his colleagues. Instead of trying new adaptations as quickly as possible, […]

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Florida Gets Kids and Vaccines Wrong, and Ukraine’s Health Crisis: COVID Quickly, Episode 26

Tanya Lewis: Hi, and welcome to COVID, Quickly, a Scientific American podcast series. Josh Fischman: This is your fast-track update on the COVID pandemic. We bring you up to speed on the science behind the most urgent questions about the virus and the disease. We demystify the research and help you understand what it really […]

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Where Rising Seas Threaten Drinking Water, Scientists Look for Affordable Solutions

Rising oceans bring more than high tides and nuisance flooding to coastal zones. They also carry salt water into inland aquifers where dissolved salts can spoil drinking water. A new research effort at the University of Pennsylvania aims to identify vulnerable water systems along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts where rising seas pose water quality […]

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Popular Health Claims, Such as a Woman’s Fertility Dropping at Age 30, Are Wildly Overblown

Why do fitness device makers claim you need to take 10,000 steps every day? Do you also really need to drink eight glasses of water daily? The scientific basis for popular health claims is often thin. A piece in the New York Times, for example, notes that the idea of 10,000 steps was based more […]

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Military Action in Chernobyl Could be Dangerous for People and the Environment

The following essay is reprinted with permission from The Conversation, an online publication covering the latest research. The site of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in northern Ukraine has been surrounded for more than three decades by a 1,000-square-mile (2,600-square-kilometer) exclusion zone that keeps people out. On April 26, 1986, Chernobyl’s reactor number four melted […]

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Science News Briefs from around the World: March 2022

Credit: NASA Advertisement MEXICO Small freshwater fish called sulfur mollies synchronously splash their tails to create waves, and scientists have now demonstrated that this strategy can deter hungry birds. Researchers triggered the wave-making process using slingshots and found that birds waited twice as long between attacks. CHILE An investigation of sedimentary rock cores revealed that […]

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Mathematicians Protest Russia Hosting Major Conference

As Ukrainian researchers have feared for their lives and careers after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, mathematicians have been grappling over what to do about a prominent mathematical conference that was set to be held in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in July. The International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) is “the largest and most significant conference on pure and […]

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COVID Has Made Global Inequality Much Worse

The coronavirus exposed and exacerbated the fragility and inequity of the global economic system. Many countries, including the U.S., proved unable to manufacture simple products such as face masks, let alone more complicated ones such as ventilators. Multiple supply chains broke. The resulting ordeal will almost surely lead to the creation of more onshore production […]

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What Is a Vaccinated Person’s Risk of Dying from COVID?

The following essay is reprinted with permission from The Conversation, an online publication covering the latest research. Thankfully, most people who get COVID–19 don’t become seriously ill—especially those who are vaccinated. But a small fraction do get hospitalized, and a smaller fraction do die. If you are vaccinated and catch the coronavirus, what are your […]