Science

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This Doctor Pioneered Counting Calories a Century Ago, and We’re Still Dealing With the Consequences

When Lulu Hunt Peters brought Americans a new method for weighing their dinner options, she launched a century of diet fads that left us hungry for a better way to keep our bodies strong and healthy

A male western snowy plover stands guard over his nest. During breeding season, males tend to the chicks while females seek a new mate. 

How Scientists Are Protecting Plovers’ Beachfront Lifestyle

Camouflaged by the sand, these threatened shorebirds aim to hide from predators. Now conservationists are trying to give their breeding efforts a boost

Fossilized footprints, preserved in gypsum mud that hardened over time, are estimated to be 23,000-21,000 years old. 

Tracking Humans’ First Footsteps in North America

At a site in New Mexico, a new discovery rewrites the human history of the continent

A mother Siphonops annulatus with newborn babies.

Inside the Wild Ways Many Creatures Make Milk

Mammals aren’t the only animals that provide nutritious secretions for their young

Where do we get the seeds for seedless fruit?

Where Do We Get Seeds for Seedless Fruit? And More Questions From Our Readers

You’ve got questions. We’ve got experts

In the late 1960s, Bob Paine described the Pisaster sea star as a “keystone species” in Pacific Northwest tide pools. The concept has since taken on a life of its own.

Has the Term 'Keystone Species' Lost Its Meaning?

More than 50 years after Bob Paine’s experiment with starfish, hundreds of species have been pronounced “keystones” in their ecosystems

Bruce McCandless floats freely in space with Earth 170 miles beneath him.

The Inside Story of the First Untethered Spacewalk

On February 7, 1984, astronaut Bruce McCandless ventured out into space and away from shuttle Challenger using only a nitrogen-propelled, hand-controlled backpack

A bat clings to the roof of an abandoned cellar—an unlikely but vital habitat type for Europe’s bats.

How a Fantastical Labyrinth Became a Crucial Habitat for Europe’s Bats

After scientists documented the flying mammals in the Piusa Sand Caves, dug by miners a century ago, conservationists strove to protect the vital habitat

Exceeding 50 feet in length, Mosasaurus hoffmannii was among the largest mosasaurs.

Massive Mosasaurs May Have Evolved More Than Once

The predators, which were made famous in the “Jurassic World” franchise, likely arose at least three times

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There's More to That

How Artificial Intelligence Is Making 2,000-Year-Old Scrolls Readable Again

The innovative “Vesuvius Challenge” unlocked a mystery that had confounded archeologists for centuries

A moose moves through the forest.

How Should Colorado Handle Its Booming Moose Population?

Roughly 3,000 animals now roam the state's mountain ranges

A variety of plants and animals go through periods where they are dormant or in the dark.

Move Over, Cicadas: These Living Things ‘Go Dark’ For a Long Time, Too

From frogs to orchids, many organisms go dormant or move underground for lengthy stints

A multi-vortex tornado touches down on the town of Patricia, Texas.

Ten Amazing Facts About Tornadoes, Explained

To prepare you for the movie “Twisters,” we’ve compiled some jaw-dropping details about the powerful phenomenon

The cutter Douglas Munro and crew searching for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activity—including high seas drift-net fishing

How A.I. Is Revolutionizing Marine Conservation

Driven by a childhood marked by war and environmental devastation, marine scientist Dyhia Belhabib developed an innovative technology to combat illegal fishing

The earthquake on March 27, 1964, dropped Anchorage’s Fourth Avenue and some cars on it roughly 20 feet below normal.

How the Great Alaska Earthquake Shook Up Science

Sixty years ago, the largest earthquake in U.S. history shocked geologists. It’s still driving scientific discoveries today

The bamboo octocoral Isidella sp. displaying bioluminescence in the Bahamas in 2009.

Glowing Sea Creatures Have Been Lighting Up the Oceans for More Than Half a Billion Years

New research on branching animals known as octocorals pushes the early days of bioluminescence back over 200 million years

The Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Station. Geothermal power has long been popular in volcanic countries like Iceland, where hot water bubbles from the ground.

Is Geothermal Power Heating Up as an Energy Source?

Long confined to regions with volcanic activity, the method of harnessing energy from the Earth promises to become much more versatile thanks to new technologies

A hawksbill sea turtle munches away on a sponge near Juno Beach.

Smithsonian Photo Contest Galleries

Journey Under the Sea With 15 Amazing Photos of Marine Life

These Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest images feature the captivating creatures that live beneath the waves

Piles of coal sit in front of a power plant in Utah. Such coal-fired power plants emit greenhouse gases that drive climate change.

What Myths About the Anthropocene Get Wrong

These ten misconceptions underplay how much we have altered the global environment and undermine the new perspective we need to deal with a drastically changed world

In recent years, many scientists have been able to watch people trying to find their way and measure how well they do.

Why Do Some People Always Get Lost?

Research suggests that experience may matter more than innate ability when it comes to a sense of direction

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