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Stephen Ornes' Articles

  • Dino double whammy

    Deccan Traps
    Most scientists think an asteroid helped kill off the dinosaurs. But new calculations suggest that asteroid might have gotten some help from a long series of volcanic eruptions in what is now India.
  • Electric eels get on their prey’s nerves

    eel and prey
    Electric eels wield remote control over their prey’s muscle movements. They do this by zapping their nervous system. Experiments suggest the creatures use these paralyzing bursts of energy to hunt, too.
  • A nervy strategy for transplants

    nerve axons reaching out
    Adjusting the electric charges in cells helped a transplanted eye reach out to its new host. The eye grew cells, which help transmit signals to other cells.
  • Detecting a single proton

    magnetic resonance imaging machine
    Doctors typically use magnetic-resonance imaging, or MRI, to see tissues and organs inside the body. Physicists can harness a similar technology. And they did that to spotlight something even smaller — a single proton. But followup analyses, reported in January 2015, forced a retraction of their original claim.
  • Raindrops break the speed limit

    Raindrops shouldn't be able fall faster than what is known as their terminal velocity. But no one told the rain. Researchers have found droplets breaking that speed limit.
  • Escape from a lab-built black hole

    black hole illustration
    In the 1970s, physicist Stephen Hawking suggested that some particles could escape a black hole. An experiment now shows how, using a lab-made black hole ‘made’ from sound.
  • Cleaning with greens

    Toxic waste contaminates site
    Cleaning up toxic waste is a big and expensive problem. Scientists have tinkered with the genes in some plants. Now those greens can take on this dirty work. Still, they're not quite ready for prime time.
  • Stone Age stencils: Really old art

    Indonesian cave art
    Scientists thought that cave art started in Europe. New analyses now dash that assessment. Stencils in an Indonesian cave are every bit as old as the better-known drawings in caves in France and Spain.

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