Back when single-celled organisms ruled Earth, a gigantic black hole lurking at the center of a distant galaxy dismantled and devoured a star. Astronomers reported that they watched it all unfold over 15 months starting in 2010, the first time such an event had been witnessed in great detail from start to finish. "The star got so close that it was ripped apart by the gravitational force of the black hole," said Johns Hopkins astronomer Suvi Gezari, lead author of a paper published online by the journal Nature.
Baboons, with their strong social hierarchy, offer lessons on the relationship between health and social rank. A 27-year study concludes that life on the top has its aggravations, but the perks are beneficial.
Global warming is rescuing the once-rare brown Argus butterfly, scientists say.
A new study finds that a widely used antibiotic, azithromycin, may increase the likelihood of sudden death in adults, especially those who have heart disease or are at high risk for it.
For the first time, a private company this week will launch a rocket to the International Space Station, sending it on a grocery run that could be the shape of things to come for the U.S. space program. If this unmanned flight and others like it succeed, commercial spacecraft could be ferrying astronauts to the orbiting outpost within five years. SpaceX will have only a split second -- at the earliest, at 3:44 a.m. Tuesday, after a planned Saturday launch was delayed -- to shoot its Falcon rocket and Dragon capsule skyward. But getting to the space station is twice as hard, said Space Exploration CEO and chief designer Elon Musk. Once it nears the space station after a two-day flight, the Dragon will spend a day of practice maneuvers before NASA signals it to move in for a linkup. A Dragon capsule, which is 19 feet tall and 12 feet across, has never before attempted a rendezvous and docking in orbit -- an exquisitely delicate operation, with the risk of a collision that could prove ruinous for the space station, which has six men on board. But if all goes well with the docking, the capsule will bring a half-ton of food and other pantry items. What sets it apart from other capsules is that it can bring back space station experiments and old equipment, as the shuttles did. None of the Russian, European and Japanese supply ships do that -- they burn up when they return to Earth. And the Russian Soyuz vehicles that ferry astronauts have little room to spare. The Dragon will be cut loose from the space station after about two weeks and aim for a Pacific splashdown off California. Two more SpaceX delivery trips are planned for this year.
A three-man crew blasted off from a space center in southern Kazakhstan Tuesday morning on board a Russian-made Soyuz craft for a four-and-half-month stay at the International Space Station.
The revision of the Manual of Mental Disorders is sparking debate about an increase in diagnoses.
A Columbia University study found that consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, plentiful in fish and nuts, is associated with lower blood levels of beta-amyloid protein, a possible indication of increased risk for Alzheimer's disease. Amyloid plaques and tangles in the brain are known to increase the risk for mental decline, and blood levels of the protein may reflect levels of its deposits in the brain. Researchers studied 1,219 mentally healthy people older than 65, recording their diet over 1 1/2 years and testing their blood for beta-amyloid and for vitamins and other nutrients. The study appeared online in Neurology. None of the nutrients was associated with reduced beta-amyloid levels except for omega-3 fatty acid, which were associated with significantly lower beta-amyloid blood levels.
Scientists who study human evolution have long puzzled over why African Pygmies are so short. It is one of the most visible examples of human diversity, with Pygmy males standing 4-foot-11 on average, while some of their neighboring ethnic groups are tall. Many biologists have assumed there must be some evolutionary advantage to their short stature -- perhaps that they better maneuvered through the forest or they survived on less food.