science

Updated Nov. 26 at 3:12 p.m. ET

NASA's InSight probe landed successfully on Mars Monday shortly before 3 p.m. ET.

Two tiny spacecraft that flew with the lander to Mars were able to relay telemetry from the probe as it descended to the surface. As a result, mission managers knew immediately that the landing had worked. Unsurprisingly, the control room at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., erupted in cheers.

If you hold your nose and take a sip of coffee, mostly what you'll taste is a bitter liquid. Much of the gustatory pleasure we take from coffee comes from its aroma.

But a new study suggests people's sensitivity to that bitter taste plays a role in how much coffee they drink. And though it seems counterintuitive, the study shows that the more sensitive you are to the bitter taste of coffee, the more of it you tend to drink.

Updated at 8:40 a.m. ET, Friday

The vote to redefine the kilogram was, as expected, unanimous, with representatives from more than 50 countries saying "yes" or "oui" at the historic meeting in Versailles, France.

Bill Phillips, a Nobel laureate from the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Maryland, told the assembled delegates that basing the kilogram's official definition on a hunk of metal held in a vault was "a situation that is clearly intolerable."

When looking up at the stars, it's hard not to wonder what else — or even who else — could be out there. The resilience of franchises like Star Trek in pop culture prove we've always believed in the possibility of life beyond our own solar system. But it wasn't until about a decade ago that we were able to locate and identify those distant planets of our dreams.

An iceberg recently spotted by NASA scientists looks like it was carefully cut into a perfect rectangle, and it's getting a lot of attention because of those unexpected angles and straight lines.

It looks nothing like the craggy, uneven mass that sank the Titanic, perhaps the most famous iceberg ever.

Even before Florence Nightingale advised that hospitals be designed to let daylight in, people observed that sunshine helps keep you healthy. But there was not much research to explain why that's the case, especially inside buildings.

The oldest evidence of life on Earth probably isn't found in some 3.7 billion-year-old rocks found in Greenland, despite what a group of scientists claimed a couple of years ago.

That's according to a new analysis, published Wednesday in the journal Nature by a different team of experts.

Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello had just moved to New York when Hurricane Sandy blew in from the Atlantic and buffeted the East Coast.

She heard that the labs at New York University, where she was working — and its freezer — were losing power. So she ran to the failing freezer, took the microbiota samples she'd gathered as a researcher in Puerto Rico over the past 14 years and stored them elsewhere.

Microbiota are the bacteria colonizing the human body — the gut, skin, mouth, and so on — that often help regulate your health. Researchers call them "beneficial germs."

Updated 9:25 a.m. ET

American Frances H. Arnold has won half of the 2018 Nobel Prize in chemistry for her work in changing how chemists produce new enzymes, sharing the prize with another American, George Smith, and Sir Gregory Winter of the U.K. for research that has led to new pharmaceuticals and cancer treatments.

UCF Astrophysicists Create 'Recipe' For Martian Dirt

Oct 2, 2018
Courtesy UCF

A team of scientists at the University of Central Florida is making fake Mars dirt and they’re selling it to agencies like NASA.

The simulated Mars dirt is called regolith, and the team of astrophysicists at UCF is using a recipe of various minerals to match the real thing. Scientist will use the regolith to test equipment for future Mars explorations and to figure out how to grow food on Mars.

Editor's note: This story was updated at 2:45 p.m. to include more information.

James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo will be awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discoveries which led to the development of a revolution in cancer treatment — therapies that work by harnessing the body's own immune system.

Updated at 8:57 p.m. ET

Millions of years before the brontosaurus roamed the Earth, a massive relative was lumbering around South Africa.

Scientists think this early Jurassic dinosaur was, at the time, the largest land creature ever to have lived. And unlike the even bigger creatures that came later, they think it could pop up on its hind legs.

Scientists say they have taken a potentially important — and possibly controversial — step toward creating human eggs in a lab dish.

A team of Japanese scientists turned human blood cells into stem cells, which they then transformed into very immature human eggs.

The eggs are far too immature to be fertilized or make a baby. And much more research would be needed to create eggs that could be useful — and safe — for human reproduction.

As the editor of a blog called Goats and Soda (see this story for the explanation behind the name), I'm always interested in the latest goat research.

So I was definitely hooked by a press release that declared, "Goats prefer happy people."

Using lessons learned from harbor seals and artificial intelligence, engineers in California may be on to a new way to track enemy submarines.

The idea started with research published in 2001 on the seals.

Scientists at the University of Bonn in Germany showed that blindfolded seals could still track a robotic fish. The researchers concluded that the seals did this by detecting the strength and direction of the whirling vortex the robot created as it swam through the water.

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