Zeroing in on baby exoplanets could reveal how they form

The way that a young exoplanet interacts with its star's disc of dust and gas determines the type of exoplanet that will ultimately form. Image credit - NASA/JPL-Caltech/D. Berry

Twenty-four years ago, Swiss astronomers Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz discovered the first planet orbiting a sun-like star outside our solar system – a milestone recognised by this year’s Nobel prize in physics. Today we know of thousands more ‘exoplanets’, and researchers are now trying to understand when and how they form. The known exoplanets … Read more

Pinning down consciousness could improve mental health, brain disorder treatments

Studies into consciousness could help explain why patients in vegetative states have varying levels of awareness. Image credit - Dr. Leon Kaufman. University Of California, San Francisco, licensed under CC0

Consciousness – the awareness we have of our self and surroundings – is often referred to as ‘the hard problem’. It’s not easy to scientifically explain how a subjective experience, which is something intangible, can be created by the brain – a physical object. But understanding more about how consciousness works could help us find … Read more

Why people’s misperceptions about climate change, vaccinations are so hard to shake

Misperceptions can be difficult to tackle because they become tied to people's identities, says Prof. Reifler. Image credit - Pixabay/ congerdesign, licensed under Pixabay license

by Kelly Oakes The most powerful source of misperceptions about important issues such as immigration and climate change are false beliefs rooted in people’s political or social preferences, but having people who question authority is also important for a society, according to Professor Jason Reifler, a political scientist at the University of Exeter, UK. Prof. … Read more

Basic research to world-changing applications can take 6 months – or 50 years

The science that made smartphones possible was done in the 1940s and 1950s. Image credit - Pixabay/ 7721622, licensed under Pixabay license

All technology and innovation have a science base but to get there requires patience, as the journey from curiosity-driven basic research to a world-changing technology can take six months or 50 years, a panel of Nobel and Kavli prize laureates has said. Professor Ben Feringa, who won a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2016 for his … Read more

Fossil colour studies are changing our idea of how dinosaurs looked

In-depth fossil analysis could help us understand the true functions of colour. Image credit: Aline Dassel/Pixabay, licensed under Pixabay licence

by Gareth Willmer What colour were the dinosaurs? If you have a picture in your head, fresh studies suggest you may need to revise it. New fossil research also suggests that pigment-producing structures go beyond how the dinosaurs looked and may have played a fundamental role inside their bodies too. The latest findings have also … Read more