A 3-D model of the Cat’s Eye nebula shows rings sculpted by jets

Roughly 3,000 light-years from Earth sits one of the most complex and least understood nebulae, a whirling landscape of gas and dust left in the wake of a star’s death throes. A new computer visualization reveals the 3-D structure of the Cat’s Eye nebula and hints at how not one, but a pair of dying ... Read more

Certain young fruit flies’ eyes literally pop out of their head

Body changes at the brink of adulthood can get awkward in humans, but at least our eyes don’t pop out of our heads on stalks longer than our legs. High-rise eyes, however, give macho pizzazz to the adult male Pelmatops fruit fly. In one of the stalkier species, P. tangliangi, the eyes-up transformation takes only ... Read more

King Tut’s tomb still has secrets to reveal 100 years after its discovery

One hundred years ago, archaeologist Howard Carter stumbled across the tomb of ancient Egypt’s King Tutankhamun. Carter’s life was never the same. Neither was the young pharaoh’s afterlife. Newspapers around the world immediately ran stories about Carter’s discovery of a long-lost pharaoh’s grave and the wonders it might contain, propelling the abrasive Englishman to worldwide ... Read more

Here’s how polar bears might get traction on snow

Tiny “fingers” can help polar bears get a grip. Like the rubbery nubs on the bottom of baby socks, microstructures on the bears’ paw pads offer some extra friction, scientists report November 1 in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. The pad protrusions may keep polar bears from slipping on snow, says Ali Dhinojwala, ... Read more

Astronomers have found the closest known black hole to Earth

The closest black hole yet found is just 1,560 light-years from Earth, a new study reports. The black hole, dubbed Gaia BH1, is about 10 times the mass of the sun and orbits a sunlike star. Most known black holes steal and eat gas from massive companion stars. That gas forms a disk around the ... Read more

Common, cheap ingredients can break down some ‘forever chemicals’

There’s a new way to rip apart harmful “forever chemicals,” scientists say. Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS, are found in nonstick pans, water-repellent fabrics and food packaging and they are pervasive throughout the environment. They’re nicknamed forever chemicals for their ability to stick around and not break down. In part, that’s because ... Read more

Why mosquitoes are especially good at smelling you

Some mosquitoes have a near-foolproof thirst for human blood. Previous attempts to prevent the insects from tracking people down by blocking part of mosquitoes’ ability to smell have failed. A new study hints it’s because the bloodsuckers have built-in workarounds to ensure they can always smell us. For most animals, individual nerve cells in the ... Read more

Oort cloud comets may spin themselves to death

Comets from the solar system’s deep freezer often don’t survive their first encounter with the sun. Now one scientist thinks he knows why: Solar warmth makes some of the cosmic snowballs spin so fast, they fall apart. This suggestion could help solve a decades-old mystery about what destroys many “long-period” comets, astronomer David Jewitt reports ... Read more

What you need to know about the new omicron booster shots

Revamped COVID-19 vaccines are poised to do battle with the super-contagious omicron variant. On September 1, U.S. health officials greenlit the first major update of the mRNA-based shots, reformulated to recognize both the original version of SARS-CoV-2 and the recently circulating versions of omicron. Those mRNA vaccine boosters could start going into arms within days. ... Read more

Zapping plastic with a laser forged tiny diamonds

A laser blast produces miniature diamonds from plain-old plastic. That’s right, the same kind used in soda bottles. When squeezed to about a million times Earth’s atmospheric pressure and heated to thousands of degrees Celsius, polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, forms nanodiamonds, physicist Dominik Kraus and colleagues report September 2 in Science Advances. Ice giant planets, ... Read more