Astronomers have discovered perhaps the first "super-Earth" with an atmosphere, and say that there's a strong possibility of the planet having liquid water on its surface. That's still no Earth -- super-Earths are bigger than Earth but smaller than gas giants -- but it's darn close compared to other known exoplanets. Perhaps equally stunning, astronomers simply used a small array of 16-inch telescopes that any amateur stargazer could have in their garage or backyard.
Earlier this year, Russian scientists carried out perhaps the first true geoengineering trial that could help combat rising global temperatures. But their efforts received little attention until a recent Mother Jones story by Chris Mooney, a science journalist who also blogs for Discover.
Vacuum's emptiness doesn't just pose a problem for space travelers -- a vacuum lining is also one of the best known insulators on Earth, and may help keep those holiday drinks and soups warm in your thermos. Now scientists have found that layering photonic crystals within the vacuum lining can even prevent heat loss from invisible infrared radiation.
Japan's obsession with robotics has led to one of the ultimate sci-fi fantasies (or nightmares): life-size robots customized to look like you and speak in your own voice. The department store Sogo & Seibu wants to deliver that dream to any interested customers starting as soon as next month, but first it plans to test the waters by making this an exclusive two-robot deal.
Quantum computing has long dangled the possibility of superfast, super-efficient processing, and now search giant Google has jumped on board that future. New Scientist reports that Google has spent the past three years developing a quantum algorithm that can automatically recognize and sort objects from still images or video.
Improvised explosives used by insurgents represent the top killer for warfighters in Iraq and Afghanistan, but now soldiers have a new tool for hunting down IED weapons caches. A new software package, called SCARE, can whip up a best hypothesis for possible locations, based on locations of past improvised explosive device (IED) attacks and, somewhat surprisingly, the Shiite vs. Sunni makeup of neighborhoods.
Most shoppers probably don't even bother recycling their plastic bags at the local supermarket, but maybe this development will titillate the geek inside everyone. A chemist has created an "upcycling" method of turning the disposable bags into carbon nanotubes, according to New Scientist
A lot of the climate change debate may focus on how to cut carbon dioxide emissions to prevent global temperature rise, but many nations are already struggling with the consequences of local climate change--rising sea levels, water shortages and agricultural problems. Now the European Union has promised over $10 billion over the next three years for a "fast start" fund to help the poorest nations adapt to climate change.
Saturn's north pole holds something even more strange than a globe-trotting Santa Claus -- a giant hexagon shape within the planet's atmosphere. Now NASA's Cassini spacecraft has imaged the whole hexagonal pattern in visible light for the first time.