Surprising Science

Behold, the unsung hero of the Winter Olympic Games: ice.

The Beijing Winter Olympics

The Slick Science of Making Olympic Snow and Ice

Crafting the ideal ice rink or bobsled course takes patience, precision and the skill of an Ice Master

A cereus in Arizona in 2009. These night-blooming flowers spring forth from cacti just one night a year, in concert with other nearby cereus. They usually wilt the next day.

Urban Explorations

See the Flowers that Bloom All At Once, One Night a Year

The mysterious night-blooming cereus just dazzled a garden in Tucson. Scientists still aren’t sure exactly how they bloom at the same time

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This Could Be the Oldest Flowering Plant Ever Found in North America

A new look at Smithsonian's fossil collection turned up a remarkably ancient flowering plant—scientists think it's at least 115 million years old

One species ant can build floating rafts (above), resilient bridges and temporary shelters using nothing but their own bodies.

Watch Fire Ants Use Their Bodies To Form Living Architecture

One species of ant can build floating rafts, resilient bridges and temporary shelters using nothing but their own bodies

The seahorse may appear ungainly, but it’s actually a sophisticatedly engineered copepod-killing machine.

The Seahorse’s Odd Shape Makes It a Weapon of Stealth

The shape of the seahorse's snout and its painfully slow movements create help create minimal water disturbance, increasing its odds of bagging prey

The production of oil and gas produces methane. But official counts may be underestimating just how much of this potent greenhouse gas comes from natural gas and similar sources.

Emissions of Methane, a Potent Greenhouse Gas, May Be Underestimated

Leaks from natural gas extraction may be a bigger source of U.S. methane emissions than previously thought, a new study finds

A mounting body of research shows that the circumstances and chronic stresses of poverty interrupt the development of the brain.

How Growing Up in Poverty May Affect a Child’s Developing Brain

A mounting body of research shows that the circumstances and chronic stresses of poverty interrupt the development of the brain

Compared to a control brain (top), neuroscientist James Fallon’s brain (bottom) shows significantly decreased activity in areas of the frontal lobe linked to empathy and morality—anatomical patterns that have been linked with psychopathic behavior.

The Neuroscientist Who Discovered He Was a Psychopath

While studying brain scans to search for patterns that correlated with psychopathic behavior, James Fallon found that his own brain fit the profile

New research shows that plastic particles can absorb pollution and carry it into fish, leading to biomagnification as it moves up the food chain to humans.

How Plastic Pollution Can Carry Flame Retardants Into Your Sushi

Research shows that plastic particles can absorb pollution from water, get eaten by fish and carry the toxins up the food chain

A Darwin’s frog daddy, of the southernly species.

One of Nature’s Most Extreme Dads, the Darwin’s Frog, Is Going Extinct

The frog's northern species is likely gone forever and a southern variety seems doomed to follow suit thanks to the amphibian chytrid fungus

Researchers have found neurological abnormalities that persist long after the symptoms of a concussion have faded away.

Four Months After a Concussion, Your Brain Still Looks Different Than Before

Researchers have found neurological abnormalities that persist long after the symptoms of a concussion have faded away

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World’s Rivers and Streams Leak a Lot of Carbon Dioxide

Lakes and reservoirs take up more space, but rivers and streams release more of the greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, a new study finds

Despite warming temperatures, the sea ice around Antarctica is increasing in extent.

Why Is Antarctica’s Sea Ice Growing As Temperatures Rise?

New research shows that the explanation for the counterintuitive growth of sea ice near the South Pole can be found blowing in the wind

When neurons misfire: Those who can remember what they ate for lunch on a day ten years ago can be fooled by tests that distort memories.

Even People With “Perfect Memory” Can Be Tricked Into Recalling Fake Events

Those who can remember what they ate on a day ten years ago can be fooled by tests that distort memories

Genetic testing of people with Caribbean ancestry reveals evidence of indigenous population collapse and specific waves of slave trade.

A History of Slavery and Genocide Is Hidden in Modern DNA

Genetic testing of people with Caribbean ancestry reveals evidence of indigenous population collapse and specific waves of slave trade

Large swaths of Brazil’s Amazon have been wiped out, but deforestation there is starting to slow.

Hotspots of Deforestation Revealed in New Maps

New maps of global forest loss find that while Brazil is decreasing its rate of deforestation, many other nations are rapidly losing forest cover

People in Mexico Were Using Chili Peppers to Make Spicy Drinks 2400 Years Ago

New analysis of the insides of ancient drinkware shows chemical traces of Capsicum species, proof positive that its owners made spicy beverages

A friendly garter snake

Mating Snakes Engage in a Literal Battle of the Sexes

Male and female red-sided garter snakes have antagonistic genitals, evolved to further the interests of their respective gender

CT scans (left) and photos (right) of the skull

This Fossil Skull Unearthed in Tibet Is the Oldest Big Cat Ever Found

The fossil belongs to a newly discovered species called Panthera blytheae and is between four and five million years old

Simply by looking at geo-tagged tweets, an algorithm can track the spread of flu and predict which users are going to get sick.

Your Tweets Can Predict When You’ll Get the Flu

Simply by looking at geotagged tweets, an algorithm can track the spread of flu and predict which users are going to get sick

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