Science is both complex and beautiful. Here, the latest findings in the many worlds of science -- from genetics to chemistry to rocket science -- as told through pictures.
May 3, 2012: For water striders, evolved antennae mean more sex. The dimorphic antennae are highlighted with different shades of blue in each sex. The male's antennal grasping traits are highlighted in purple.
May 13, 2012: The discovery of plant proteins involved in seed oil production (stained blue) in thale cress plants could boost biofuel production.
May 7, 2012: Researchers from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid monitor a chicken's brain.
May 16, 2012: A closeup of a synthetic-DNA-based product that could help treat heart disease.
May 10, 2012: In the future, smartphones will have built-in projectors.
May 10, 2012: The mini-LED projector consists of an array of hundreds of tiny microprojectors.
May 9, 2012: Biosensors that sense low exygen and glow green could lead to new treatments for tuberculosis.
May 16, 2012: Doctors delivery gene-therapy products directly to the heart.
May 7, 2012: The human immune system in action. This colored scanning electron microscope image shows a white blood cell (dyed red) in the act of destroying tuberculosis bacteria (yellow). The bacteria are surrounded by the cell membrane of the scavenger cell, then drawn inside and rendered harmless ideally, forever.
Mar. 29, 2012: Grid structure of the human brain: a major bundle of front-to-back paths rendered in purples that cross paths from the cerebral cortex, shown in orange and yellow. These data were obtained in the new MGH-UCLA 3T Connectom Scanner as part of the NIH Blueprint Human Connectome Project.
Mar. 27, 2012: What happens during a heart attack: on the left are normal, healthy cells that line the coronary artery. On the right are cells from heart attack patients which appear abnormally large, misshapen and with multiple nuclei.
Mar. 25, 2012: Researchers are studying the lungs of mice (pictured) to better understand our inner weapons against allergies.
Mar. 16, 2012: A male fruit fly drinks alcohol-laced food from from a tube. Researchers are finding that sexually deprived male fruit flies are driven to alcohol consumption.
Mar. 25, 2012: Scientists are studying social interactions between animals by examining the lice they share.
Mar. 26, 2012: By studying the brain, researchers believe they are finally figuring out the basic mechanics of depression and other mental disorders, discoveries that should open the door to far more effective ways to tackle illnesses that can cripple society.
Mar. 14, 2012: Study of the brainless acorn worm has given scientists clues into the evolutionary biology of our own brains.
Mar. 19, 2012: In young solar systems emerging around baby stars, some orbits are more popular than others, resulting in 'planet pile-ups' and 'planet deserts.'
Mar. 21, 2012: Scientists hope to unlock the mysteries of male pattern baldness by studying hair follicles on mice (pictured).
Mar. 26, 2012: Researchers are closing in on a chlamydia (pictured, stained red) vaccine.
Mar. 14, 2012: A rare fossile find in southwest China has revealed a previously unknown Stone Age people (pictured).
Dec. 15, 2011: Electromagnetic signals can be detected and amplified almost noiselessly using a guitar-string like mechanical vibrating wire. In the ideal case the method adds only the minimum amount of noise required by quantum mechanics.
Dec. 20, 2011: Two planets orbiting a star 950 light-years from Earth are the smallest, most Earth-size alien worlds known, astronomers announced. One of the planets is actually smaller than Earth, scientists say. Read more
Dec. 16, 2011: Among the strangest mammals around, mole rats are obnoxiously ugly, live exceptionally long, and never get cancer making them a favorite test subject when it comes to medical research. Now scientists are investigating why mole rats feel no pain from acid -- hoping that it could help them better understand and eventually tackle arthritis pain.
Dec. 16, 2011: Ancient cartilaginous fishes, such as sharks and skates, are vertebrates with non-ossified cartilage skeletons. The remarkably displayed cartilage of the little skate skeleton shown here was visualized by Alcian blue staining.
Dec. 6, 2011: NASA's Hubble Space Telescope presents a festive holiday greeting that’s out of this world. The bipolar star-forming region nearly 2,000 light-years from us, called Sharpless 2-106, looks like a soaring, celestial snow angel. The outstretched “wings” of the nebula record the contrasting imprint of heat and motion against the backdrop of a colder medium.
Dec. 16, 2011: This shows a network depicting the top 0.25 percent of relationships in a dataset of abundance levels of bacterial strains that live in the human gut. Each node represents a different bacterial strain, and each edge represents an association between bacterial strains. Edge lengths are proportional to the strength of the relationship between bacterial strains, and the size of each node is proportional to the number of relationships in which that node is involved.
Dec. 19, 2011: A method developed at Aalto University in Finland makes it possible to use microbes to produce butanol suitable for biofuel and other industrial chemicals from wood biomass.
Dec. 19, 2011: Closeup of Capitella perarmata, a worm that inhabits enriched sediments of the Antarctic seafloor.
Dec. 19, 2011: In the laboratory, a Sensorbot flashes out its code. By means of these brilliant blue pulses of light, the spherical undersea robot relays information about its environment. The light code is captured by high-speed cameras, which record and transmit the data for later analysis.
Dec. 6, 2011: This composite image provided by Lynette Cook and Andrea Ghez via the journal Nature shows an image of the center of our Galaxy from laser-guide-star adaptive optics on the Keck Telescope. More massive black holes have larger event horizons, the region within which even light can not escape.
If a ten billion solar mass black hole resided at the Galactic center, its immense event horizon would be visible (illustrated by the central black disk). The actual black hole at the Galactic center is 2500 times smaller.
Dec. 6, 2011: This undated image provided by the Gemini Observatory via the journal Nature shows an artist's conception of stars moving in the central regions of a giant elliptical galaxy that harbors a supermassive black hole.
Nov. 22, 2011: Entomologist Dave Kavanaugh, dressed as Santa Claus, holds onto Miles, a male reindeer, as they pose for reporters on the Living Roof at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. The reindeer will be a part of the Academy's holiday program that will be exhibited until January 16, 2012. The Living Roof Project is an ongoing citizen science program designed to give community members an opportunity to learn about the Academy’s unique roof ecosystem while contributing to important baseline data regarding the many plants, birds, and arthropods that inhabit and utilize the Living Roof’s 2.5 acres of green space.
Nov. 16, 2011: The highest resolution near-global topographic map of the moon ever created is shown in this photograph by the science team that oversees the imaging system on board NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The new topographic map shows the surface shape and features over nearly the entire moon with a pixel scale close to 100 meters (328 feet). A single measure of elevation (one pixel) is about the size of two football fields placed side-by-side.
Nov. 22, 2011: A viciously bashed prehistoric skull from China offers some of the earliest known evidence for violence between humans.
Nov. 18, 2011: A metal developed by a team of researchers from the University of California at Irvine, HRL Laboratories and the California Institute of Technology is pictured resting on a dandelion fluff without damaging it. The metal, which is about 100 times lighter than styrofoam, is the world's lightest material, according to the team.
Nov. 27, 2011: Chile's Paleontological Museum of Caldera, a paleontologist from the museum prepares a whale fossil at the site where many prehistoric whale fossils were discovered in the Atacama desert near Copiapo, Chile. The fossil is enclosed in a plaster jacket to protect it during transport back to the museum.
Nov. 24, 2011: This photo provided by Sue O'Connor/Australian National University shows an excavation site showing fish bones and hooks at a cave in East Timor. New research published in the journal Science suggests humans were deep-sea fishing 42,000 years ago, much earlier than believed.
Nov. 26, 2011: A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity rover lifts off from Launch Complex 41at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The rocket will deliver a science laboratory to Mars to study potential habitable environments on the planet.
Nov. 21, 2011: A blurry photo was the cause of celebration in China in early November. It was the first Amur tiger—a critically endangered sub-species of the big cat—captured on camera traps in the Wandashan Mountains. The area is considered one of the key places for the endangered Amur tiger population to resettle and breed in northeast China.
Nov. 15, 2011: Customs officials in Hong Kong today seized 33 rhino horns that were smuggled from South Africa. This was the largest number of rhino horns ever seized in Hong Kong and one of the largest single seizures of rhino horn globally.
This past month in South Africa, 19 critically endangered black rhinos were moved from well-known national parks to private land in order to help increase healthy habitat for the rhinos and to keep them safe from poachers.
Nov. 9, 2011: A tranquilized black rhinoceros is seen being transported by helicopter to a waiting vehicle in South Africa's Eastern Cape last week. The helicopter trip is part of a new relocation strategy given a recent surge in poaching.
Nov. 9, 2011: The rhinos were asleep during their flights, which took the animals between about 1,600 and 3,200 feet (500 and 1000 meters) into the air.
Nov. 4, 2011: After 520 days, the crew of a European mission to "Mars"—including these two, pictured testing Russian space suits last summer—returned home last week, stepping out of their capsule to much fanfare in Moscow.
Nov. 4, 2011: A Mars rover, driven by remote control, explores the sandy surface of the Mars500 "landing site." The room was designed to resemble Gusev Crater, the real-life landing site of NASA's Mars rover Spirit.
Nov. 4, 2011: The Mars500 mission was packed with experiments for the crew, with researchers curious about what was happening to the men's saliva, digestive systems, and muscles, among other things.
Nov. 8, 2011: High-tech scans of two baby mammoths pulled from the Siberian permafrost reveal that one, originally identified as male, was in fact a female. In addition, the scans showed major skeletal differences between the two mammoths, perhaps representing evolutionary change in the mammoth lineage.
A lot of what we've done with mammoths in the past has been done based on dental anatomy, based on what we can see from teeth," study researcher Ethan Shirley of the University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology told LiveScience here in Las Vegas at the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.
Nov. 8, 2011: An artist's rendering of a Tegopelte, a foot-long arthropod that lived 500 million years ago. Researchers suggest that Tegopelte was a fearsome predator or perhaps a quick-moving scavenger, capable of "rapidly skimming across the seafloor" with only a few of its many legs touching the ground at a time.
Nov. 9, 2011: Crab eating macaques (Macaca fasciularis), an example of an Old World monkey that lives in large, stable multi-male multi-female groups. Scientists believe that early primates transitioned directly from solitary lives to living in large groups, similar to these monkeys. Other social structures, such as harems, emerged later, their research suggests.
Oct. 31, 2011: A Galápagos tortoise dwarfs her newborn in this photo released in October by the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in New South Wales, Australia. The hatchling weighed roughly 3 ounces (87 grams) at birth.
The Galápagos tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra) is the largest living species of tortoise, reaching weights of over 880 lb and lengths of over 5.9 ft. With life spans in the wild of over 100 years, it is one of the longest-lived vertebrates. A captive individual lived at least 170 years.
Oct. 24, 2011: Reflected light from a camera flash causes a jaguar's eyes to glow in a camera-trap picture taken in the rain forests of Bolivia.
Oct. 24, 2011: Artifacts from Northern Europe (circa 4,000 B.C.) are thought to have been votive offerings by the earliest farming communities who lived in the area. Chemical analysis of charred food residues preserved on inside of a number of these vessels show they were used for processing freshwater fish, which supplemented their fledgling agricultural economy.
Oct: 21, 2011: The Manis mastodon was found with an embedded point of bone in its rib, suggested that an early hunter had speared the animal 13,800 years ago.
Oct. 22, 2011: Two skeletons found in central-northern Italy reveal the couple was buried holding hands some 1,500 years ago. Love endures all ...
Oct. 20, 2011: This may look like a terribly wonky Christmas tree, but it's actually a succession of fruit fly egg chambers. The red dots are Wolbachia bacteria, which infect most insect species. The odd thing about a Wolbachia infection is that female insects that carry the bacteria lay four times the eggs as females without an infection.
Oct. 13, 2011: Scientists have figured out with more accuracy how much the tyrannical lizard,Tyrannosaurus rex, really weighed, suggesting the largest and most complete skeleton, named SUE, weighed a whopping 9 tons. (SUE's skeleton resides at The Field Museum in Chicago.)
Oct. 13, 2011: NASA’s Operation IceBridge mission comprises the largest airborne research campaign ever flown over Earth’s polar region. The mission is designed to continue critical ice sheet measurements in a period between active satellite missions and help scientists understand how much the major ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica could contribute to sea level rise.
Oct. 20: 2011: Several progressively more differentiated fruit fly egg chambers (oldest are at the bottom) that originated from the germaria (most upward pointing structure).
Oct. 18, 2011: A fetal shark cut from the belly of a pregnant shark caught in the Gulf of California. The shark, which would likely not have survived outside the womb, had only one eye.
Oct. 13, 2011: The entrance to Blombos Cave, indicated by the white arrow, about 180 miles (300 kilometers) east of Cape Town -- where researchers found a 100,000-year-old workshop used to mix and store reddish pigment ochre indicating primitive art supplies.
Oct. 13, 2011: Archaeologists in South Africa uncovered two 100,000-year-old abalone shells and assorted bones and stones in the cave that served a toolkits to make some sort of ochre-based compound. The mixture may have been used as a paint or adhesive. It's the oldest evidence of humans making a complex compound, and even the oldest evidence of humans using containers
This image shows the smallest cones at the center of the retina, (the fovea). Whenever we direct our gaze at something, for example to read, the image of what we are looking at is formed over these very important cones. The magnification shows a more eccentric retinal location, in which the large bright dots with a dark ring around them are cones, and the surrounding (and far more abundant) smaller spots are rods.
A web of cracks in meltwater ice along the edge of Byrd Glacier, Antarctica. This image was taken by John Goodge, a professor of geological sciences at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, during an Antarctic expedition.
Goodge and Jeff Vervoort, an isotope geochemist from Washington State University, traveled to Antarctica to collect and analyze rocks in order to build a better picture of the continent hidden beneath the polar ice cap.
An artist's depiction of a mother and juvenile plesiosaur as they may have looked swimming in the waters of the Southern Ocean roughly 70 million years ago.
The well-preserved fossil skeleton of a juvenile plesiosaur--a marine reptile--was recovered by an American-Argentine research team in Antarctica. The fossil remains represent one of the most-complete plesiosaur skeletons ever found and is thought to be the best-articulated fossil skeleton ever recovered from Antarctica. The creature would have inhabited Antarctic waters during a period when the Earth and oceans were far warmer than they are today.
A red fluorescent variety of staghorn coral (Acropora millepora). In a National Science Foundation-supported study, researchers found that the ability to fluoresce may influence whether or not the coral settle on the reef of their origin or disperse, and go elsewhere.
Staghorn coral (Acropora millepora) were the focus of a National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported study by Misha Matz, an assistant professor of integrative biology at the University of Texas at Austin, and colleagues, to address coral reef connectivity, genetics of physiology and life history traits, and their evolutionary modifications in response to ongoing climate change.
"Engine-driven" supernova explosion, with accretion disk and high-velocity jets. This is the first time astronomers have found a supernova explosion with properties similiar to a gamma-ray burst, but without seeing any gamma rays from it.
Scientists expect the discovery--made using the National Science Foundation's Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope--will point the way toward locating many more examples of these mysterious explosions. Radio observations will be a more powerful tool for discovering these kind of supernova in the universe than gamma-ray satellites.
The Amazonian butterfly emerald-patched cattleheart. Researchers from Yale University, supported by the National Science Foundation, are studying the properties of the colors of butterfly wings. Using an X-ray scattering technique, they were able to determine the 3-D internal structure of the scales on the wings of several species of butterflies.
Like shingles on a roof, vivid, emerald-green scales adorn the wings of the Amazonian butterfly, emerald-patched cattleheart.
How was this picture taken? Usually, pictures of the shuttle, taken from space, are snapped from the space station. Commonly, pictures of the space station are snapped from the shuttle. How, then, can there be a picture of both the shuttle and the station together, taken from space? The answer is that during the Space Shuttle Endeavour's last trip to the International Space Station two weeks ago, a supply ship departed the station with astronauts that captured a series of rare views.
The supply ship was the Russian Soyuz TMA-20 which landed in Kazakhstan later that day. The above spectacular image well captures the relative sizes of the station and docked shuttle. Far below, clouds of Earth are seen above a blue sea. The next and last launch of a US space shuttle is scheduled for early July.
New research points to a genetic route to understanding and treating epilepsy.
Timothy Jegla, an assistant professor of biology at Penn State University, has identified an ancient gene family that plays a role in regulating the excitability of nerves within the brain. "In healthy people, nerves do not fire excessively in response to small stimuli," Jegla explained. In epileptic brains (pictured), "neurons can become hyperactive and fire in synchrony. As excessive firing spreads across the brain, the result is an epileptic seizure."
Scientists from the University of Groningen in The Netherlands successfully used a 'genome mining' approach to find and activate a group of genes in the bacterium Streptomyces coelicolor. This resulted in the production of a novel antibiotic, seen here, that could lead to new treatments for serious diseases that are rapidly acquiring multi-drug resistance.
Within 24 hours of culturing adult human stem cells on a new type of matrix, University of Michigan researchers were able to make predictions about how the cells would differentiate, or what type of tissue they would become. "We show, for the first time, that we can predict stem cell differentiation as early as Day 1," said Jianping Fu, an assistant professor in mechanical and biomedical engineering.
Sequential still frames from a video filmed at 10,000 fps show a mushroom cloud of sphagnum spores with a "trailing wake" clearly visible. The spores don't move quickly, and are carried by turbulent wind currents to establish colonies many kilometers away. However, spores that are easily kept aloft are also rapidly decelerated in still air; thus, dispersal range depends strongly on release height.
Saturn's aurora, an ethereal ultraviolet glow which illuminates Saturn's upper atmosphere near the poles, pulses roughly once per Saturnian day, space researchers discovered. The length of a day has been under much discussion since it was discovered that the traditional "clock" used to measure the rotation period of Saturn, a gas giant planet with no solid surface for reference, apparently does not keep good time.
Tougher than a bullet-proof vest yet synonymous with beauty and luxury, silks spun by worms and spiders are a masterpiece of nature hard to replicated in the lab. Tufts University engineers recently built this silk card, which shows diffractive optics entirely constituted by pure silk obtained by pouring silk solution on patterned molds and letting the solution dry and crystallize. The resulting film retains the pattern and is a free-standing optical component so flexible it can be rolled up.
Common household products like detergents and shampoo contain surfactants -- organic compounds that act as detergents. By simulating them on a supercomputer, researchers wash away expensive and slow laboratory work as they design new products.
A disease's origin doesn't explain the whole story, scientists explained recently. "Luminal" cells are believed to be the origin for prostate cancer, for example, because the disease is characterized by their expansion and the absence of "basal" cells -- the green cells here lining the outside of benign prostate glands. Yet scientists recently found found that basal cells can cause prostate cancer too, proof that histology doesn't always correlate with cellular origins.
Science is both complex and beautiful. Here, the latest findings in the many worlds of science -- from genetics to chemistry to rocket science -- as told through pictures.