Report: Molecules offer cleaner, milder way to break down natural gas

Scientists have discovered inexpensive materials that can convert natural gas into useful chemicals under mild conditions, a new study in the 14 March issue of the journal Science reports. This approach may eventually compete with technologies for generating the same chemicals from petroleum, a fossil fuel that emits a lot of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when it burns.

Great earthquakes, water under pressure, high risk

The largest earthquakes occur where oceanic plates move beneath continents. Obviously, water trapped in the boundary between both plates has a dominant influence on the earthquake rupture process.

Revolutionary solar cells double as lasers

Commercial silicon-based solar cells - such as those seen on the roofs of houses across the country - operate at about 20% efficiency for converting the Sun's rays into electrical energy. It's taken over 20 years to achieve that rate of efficiency.

Study finds gaming augments players’ social lives

New research finds that online social behavior isn’t replacing offline social behavior in the gaming community. Instead, online gaming is expanding players’ social lives. The study was done by researchers at North Carolina State University, York University and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.

A new angle on controlling light

Light waves can be defined by three fundamental characteristics: their color (or wavelength), polarization, and direction. While it has long been possible to selectively filter light according to its color or polarization, selectivity based on the direction of propagation has remained elusive.

Mars yard ready for Red Planet rover

A state-of-the-art ‘Mars yard’ is now ready to put the ExoMars rover through its paces before the vehicle is launched to the Red Planet in 2018.

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope spots Mars-bound comet sprout multiple jets

How do you grow a supermassive black hole that is a million to a billion times the mass of our sun? Astronomers do not know the answer, but a new study using data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has turned up what might be the cosmic seeds from which a black hole will sprout. The results are helping scientists piece together the evolution of supermassive black holes -- powerful objects that dominate the hearts of all galaxies.

Rosetta sets sights on destination comet

The Rosetta spacecraft has caught a first glimpse of its destination comet since waking up from deep-space hibernation on Jan. 20.

Computing with slime

A future computer might be a lot slimier than the solid silicon devices we have today. In a study published in the journal Materials Today, European researchers reveal details of logic units built using living slime molds, which might act as the building blocks for computing devices and sensors.

The dynamics behind Arctic ecosystems

The climate – combined with the body size of the herbivores – is crucial for how the tundra’s ecosystem works. This is shown in new research, which is also the first step towards a general understanding of ecosystems on land.

A more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, methane emissions will leap as Earth warms

While carbon dioxide is typically painted as the bad boy of greenhouse gases, methane is roughly 30 times more potent as a heat-trapping gas.

Cosmic collision creates mini-planet with rings

Until now, rings of material in a disc have only been observed around giant planets like Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune and especially Saturn, which is known for its spectacular rings.

Scientists solve riddle of celestial archaeology

A decades old space mystery has been solved by an international team of astronomers led by Professor Martin Barstow of the University of Leicester and President-elect of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Solar System's edge redefined

New work from Carnegie's Scott Sheppard and Chadwick Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory reports the discovery of a distant dwarf planet, called 2012 VP113, which was found beyond the known edge of the Solar System.

Tracking 3D nanoscale changes in rechargeable battery material during operation

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have made the first 3D observations of how the structure of a lithium-ion battery anode evolves at the nanoscale in a real battery cell as it discharges and recharges.

Dark energy hides behind phantom fields

Quintessence and phantom fields, two hypotheses formulated using data from satellites, such as Planck and WMAP, are among the many theories that try to explain the nature of dark energy. Now researchers from Barcelona and Athens suggest that both possibilities are only a mirage in the observations and it is the quantum vacuum which could be behind this energy that moves our universe.

Major increase in West Antarctic glacial loss reported

Six massive glaciers in West Antarctica are moving faster than they did 40 years ago, causing more ice to discharge into the ocean and global sea level to rise, according to new research.

Engineered bacteria produce biofuel alternative for high-energy rocket fuel

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Joint BioEnergy Institute have engineered a bacterium to synthesize pinene, a hydrocarbon produced by trees that could potentially replace high-energy fuels, such as JP-10, in missiles and other aerospace applications.

Studying crops from outer space

Plants convert energy from sunlight into chemical energy during a process called photosynthesis. This energy is passed on to humans and animals that eat the plants, and thus photosynthesis is the primary source of energy for all life on Earth.

Lick's Automated Planet Finder: First robotic telescope for planet hunters

Lick Observatory's newest telescope, the Automated Planet Finder (APF), has been operating robotically night after night on Mt. Hamilton since January, searching nearby stars for Earth-sized planets.