In July of 1878, Vassar professor Maria Mitchell led a team of astronomers to the new state of Colorado to observe a total solar eclipse. In a field outside of Denver, they watched as the sun went dark and a feathery fan of bright tendrils — the solar corona — faded into view.
This winter brings the latest installment of the Star Wars franchise, full of familiar costumes, familiar villains, and the familiar "pew pew pew" of space guns. But you can skip the movie theatre and still hear those iconic blaster sounds if you visit a frozen lake.
The Amorphophallus titanum is a striking plant even before you get close enough to smell it. Its scientific name means giant, misshapen phallus and it is not hard to see why. A giant column called a spadix rises 7 feet into the air from the center of a pleated funnel.
The history of science is full of happy accidents — most folks have heard that penicillin was discovered in 1928, when a few mold spores landed on some neglected petri dishes in a London lab. But sometimes serendipity's role is a bit less ... mainstream.
On Monday, NASA started accepting applications for its new class of astronauts. Applying is simple: Just log in to USAjobs.gov, search for "astronaut," and upload your resume and references. The job description says "Frequent travel may be required."
When it comes to feats of speed and strength, Homo sapiens is a pretty pitiful species. The list of animals that can outsprint us is embarrassing. There's the cheetah, of course, but also horses, ostriches, greyhounds, grizzly bears, kangaroos, wild boars, even some house cats.
The Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded Monday to three scientists for their work on parasitic diseases.
William C. Campbell and Satoshi Omura were recognized for discovering a compound that effectively kills roundworm parasites. A Chinese scientist, Dr. Youyou Tu, won for her work in isolating a powerful drug in the 1970s to fight malaria.
Hundreds of you sent in questions for Skunk Bear's live conversation with three astronauts and NASA's chief scientist on Tuesday. Thanks! The most common question was: "What happens when you get your period in space?"
I didn't end up asking them this question because:
a) The question itself has a lot of historical baggage; b) The answer is pretty boring.
But since people were genuinely curious, I decided to answer it here.
In the history of life on Earth, evolutionary forces have pushed some species to become incredibly large. After most dinosaurs died off 66 million years ago, some mammals and marsupials grew bigger and bigger, taking the dinos' place.