What's at the bottom of the bottom of the food chain? Well, think small ... smaller than you can see.
Tiny life forms in the ocean, too small for the naked eye to see.
There are (and scientists have done the math) trillions of microorganisms in the ocean: plankton, bacteria, krill (they're maybe bigger than "micro," but not by much), viruses, protists and archaea (they're like bacteria, but they aren't bacteria).
Shrinivas Kulkarni, an astronomy and planetary science professor at the California Institute of Technology, is a serious astronomer. But not too serious.
"We astronomers are supposed to say, 'We wonder about the stars and we really want to think about it,' " says Kulkarni â€” in other words, think deep thoughts. But he says that's not really the way it is.
"Many scientists, I think, secretly are what I call 'boys with toys,' " he says. "I really like playing around with telescopes. It's just not fashionable to admit it."
Warm weather has finally arrived in the Northeast. And along a wild stretch of New York state's Hudson River in the Adirondack Mountains, a section has been opened to paddlers for the first time in decades.
New landmark conservation deals in New York state have protected vast swaths of wilderness. Those deals have also opened waterways that had been closed to the public for more than a century.
Originally published on Thu April 30, 2015 5:36 pm
After 4,104 orbits of Mercury and billions of miles of space travel, NASA's Messenger orbiter ended its mission with a quiet bang on Thursday. Messenger crashed into the planet it has been orbiting for four years.
NASA says the orbiter began the process of lithobraking at 3:26 p.m. ET â€” meaning that Messenger essentially scraped to a stop after hitting the planet's surface traveling at thousands of miles an hour. The Oxford English Dictionary reminds us that litho is the combining form for the Greek word for "stone."
Originally published on Thu April 30, 2015 8:53 am
Listen to the Story
Using telescopes in Hawaii and California, astronomers have found two super-Earth-size planets orbiting a star a mere 54 light-years away.
This brings to three the total number of exoplanets around the star HD 7924.
The discovery is important for two reasons. NASA's Kepler telescope has shown that giant rocky planets orbiting close to their stars are fairly common for distant stars. The new finding confirms that such planets exist around local stars, as well.
Originally published on Sat April 25, 2015 6:23 pm
Some murder cases are harder to solve than others. The investigation into the killing of Mellory Manning â€” a 27-year-old woman who was assaulted and murdered in 2008 while working as a prostitute in Christchurch, New Zealand â€” confounded police.
They conducted an investigation and interviewed hundreds of people, but months later, they still had no solid leads.
Originally published on Sat April 25, 2015 12:36 pm
The Hubble Space Telescope this week celebrates 25 years in Earth's orbit. In that time the telescope has studied distant galaxies, star nurseries, planets in our solar system and planets orbiting other stars.
But, even with all that, you could argue that the astronomer for whom the telescope is named made even more important discoveries â€” with far less sophisticated equipment.
Originally published on Fri April 17, 2015 8:27 pm
Medicine has changed a lot in the past 100 years. But medical training hasn't â€” until now. Spurred by the need to train a different type of doctor, some top medical schools around the U.S. are tearing up the textbooks and starting from scratch.
Most medical schools still operate under a model pioneered in the early 1900s by an educator named Abraham Flexner.
Colorado wildlife officials believe someone released four or five pet goldfish into Teller Lake #5 a few years ago. Now, the fish number in the thousands and threaten the lake's ecosystem. Aquatic biologist Ben Swigle explains how they're trying to rid the lake of the invasive species.
"God of the Gaps": When God is invoked to fill in the blanks in scientific knowledge. An old-fashioned and doomed theological approach, but one that is nevertheless very much alive in the minds of many.