11 Animals Named After U.S. Presidents

The study of taxonomy is often a slog. There are measurements to take, technical descriptions to write, and databases to parse—all tasks that require nothing short of meticulous, tireless precision. The naming of a new species, on the other hand, can be an exhilarating, even celebratory experience. Scientists have been known to christen their discoveries…

Air Pollution May Make Solar Panels Less Efficient

From inefficient grids, shortfalls in policy, and even the occasional eclipse, solar-energy collection faces no shortage of hurdles. Scientists have discovered another stumbling block: air pollution. In certain parts of the globe, the accumulation of particulate matter on solar panels can curtail energy output by more than 25 percent, according to a new study. Published…

Hawaii Issues Alert for Brain-Invading Parasite Transmitted by Snails

The Hawaiian island of Maui is experiencing an uptick in infections stemming from a parasitic roundworm that invades the human brain. Or, in less scientific parlance, brain slugs. In the past three months alone, health officials have confirmed six cases of the picturesquely named rat lungworm disease, with three additional cases still pending investigation. The…

Scientists Turn Spinach into Human Heart Tissue

Popeye was right: spinach really is good for the muscles, and not just the ones in your biceps. In fact, scientists have discovered a way to use the leafy stuff, which has a vascular system not dissimilar to ours, to grow layers of working heart muscle, according to a paper published this month in the…

Solar-Powered Skin Could Help Prosthetics Imbue Sense of Touch

Engineers from the University of Glasgow have developed a synthetic skin that could help amputees regain their sense of touch. Clad in graphene, a form of graphite just one atom thick yet tougher than steel, the “electronic skin” even uses photovoltaic cells to harvest power from the sun. “This could allow the creation of an…

European Firms Eye Artificial Island for North Sea Wind and Solar Farm

Of all the opponents of wind turbines, few are as vociferous as the loose collective that planners and developers deride as “Nimby,” a term that derives from the acronym for “not in my backyard.” Driven to stake out real estate further offshore, a group of European companies have devised a plan almost breathtaking in its…

We Might be Descended From This Horrifying Sea Creature with No Anus

If you’re looking for new nightmare fuel beyond, oh we don’t know, the dissolution of democracy as we know it, meet Saccorhytus, a tiny H.R. Giger-esque monstrosity that scientists say could be our earliest-known ancestor. Going back some 540 million years, it’s also believed to be the most primitive example we have to date of…