April 08, 2019

A remarkable fossil deposit found in North Dakota seems to offer an unprecedented record of the mass extinction event that wiped out most of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. The fossils appear to be animals that were killed within minutes of an asteroid striking Earth, in a flood triggered by the shattering impact.

April 08, 2019

Funding for the National Science Foundation would drop 12 percent to just over $7 billion under President Trump’s latest budget request, near where it stood at the beginning of the Obama administration. The proposal distributes cuts relatively evenly across NSF’s research and education programs, while favoring work related to administration priorities such as quantum science and artificial intelligence.

April 08, 2019

To understand the scale of the problem, consider this: When it shut down in December 2018, the LHC generated about 300 gigabytes of data every second, adding up to 25 petabytes (PB) annually. For comparison, you’d have to spend 50,000 years listening to music to go through 25 PB of MP3 songs, while the human brain can store memories equivalent to just 2.5 PB of binary data. To make sense of all that information, the LHC data was pumped out to 170 computing centers in 42 countries.

April 04, 2019

Ever wondered how the American public's science knowledge stacks up? Well, wonder no more. The Pew Research Center has released the results of a survey, exposing how people's level of knowledge varies by education, gender, race, and even political persuasion.

April 04, 2019

NASA has just been given a huge challenge. US vice president Mike Pence announced that president Donald Trump will direct the space agency to send astronauts to the moon by 2024. “The first woman and the next man on the moon will both be American astronauts launched by American rockets from American soil,” he said at a meeting of the US National Space Council in Huntsville, Alabama.

April 02, 2019

Need a kick-start? You would be hard-pressed to find one more powerful than a supernova – a sudden explosion in which a dying star ejects most of its mass. That is what happened to the pulsar pictured here, sending it racing away from its home with a tail of particles and magnetic energy stretching behind it for 13 light years.

March 28, 2019

The $8.9 billion James Webb Space Telescope may be the last big-budget observatory that NASA launches for a while. The White House’s proposed 2020 budget cancels the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), a $3.2 billion space mission viewed as a linchpin of astrophysics research through the 2020s and beyond.

March 26, 2019

If someone asks you what planet is closest to Earth, you’ll probably blurt out Venus. That’s a perfectly normal thing to say, but it’s also wrong. Numerous websites and even NASA itself say Venus is our closest planetary neighbor. A new article in Physics Today lays out a more accurate way to determine which planets are closest together. It turns out the averages are highly counterintuitive. Mercury is the closest planet to Earth -- in fact, it’s the closest planet to every other planet.

March 25, 2019

Another year, another round of spending cuts; and, perhaps, another case of Congress riding to the rescue? The White House's budget request for the 2020 fiscal year, released today, once again seeks to scale back research programs across government, though most of the details will wait until next week. That's because the White House is issuing its annual proposal to Congress in phases, with only a 150-page budget overview released today.

March 20, 2019

Rocket science is easy. It's finding the funding for it that's hard. The Presidential Budget Request for NASA for the fiscal year 2020 is $21.019 billion -- higher than the FY2018 budget, and much higher than the lean years earlier this decade. At the same time, it also represents a 2.2% drop, nearly half a billion dollars, from the just-approved 2019 budget.