Fossil footprints: the fascinating story behind the longest known prehistoric journey

Every parent knows the feeling. Your child is crying and wants to go home, you pick them up to comfort them and move faster, your arms tired with a long walk ahead – but you cannot stop now. Now add to this a slick mud surface and a range of hungry predators around you. That …

Planet Nine might not exist, many astronomers now think

Planet Nine is a theoretical, undiscovered giant planet in the mysterious far reaches of our solar system. The presence of Planet Nine has been hypothesized to explain everything from the tilt of the sun’s spin axis to the apparent clustering in the orbits of small, icy asteroids beyond Neptune. But does Planet Nine actually exist? …

We need faster spaceships. Nuclear-powered rockets may be the answer

With dreams of Mars on the minds of both NASA and Elon Musk, long-distance crewed missions through space are coming. But you might be surprised to learn that modern rockets don’t go all that much faster than the rockets of the past. Iain Boyd, University of Colorado Boulder

Will humans go extinct? For all the existential threats, we’ll likely be here for a very long time

Will our species go extinct? The short answer is yes. The fossil record shows everything goes extinct, eventually. Almost all species that ever lived, over 99.9%, are extinct. Some left descendants. Most – plesiosaurs, trilobites, Brontosaurus – didn’t. That’s also true of other human species. Neanderthals, Denisovans, Homo erectus all vanished, leaving just Homo sapiens. …

The Sun is less active than sibling stars, study shows – here’s what that could mean

All stars emit varying amounts of light over time – and the Sun is no exception. Such changes in starlight can help us understand how habitable any planets around other stars are – a very active star may bombard its planets with harmful radiation. Now a new study, published in Science, shows that the Sun …

Coronavirus: we’re in a realtime laboratory of a more sustainable urban future

A pause has been forced on urban life. Quiet roads, empty skies, deserted high streets and parks, closed cinemas, cafés, and museums – a break in the spending and work frenzy so familiar to us all. The reality of lockdown is making ghost towns of the places we once knew. Everything we know about our …

Nature’s comeback? No, the coronavirus pandemic actually threatens the world’s wildlife

There have not been many bright spots in the coronavirus pandemic, but one has been the apparent return of nature as the frantic pace of modern life has slowed. We’ve seen fish-eating birds return to the clear waters of Venice, wild boar roaming the streets of Bergamo, and of course the feral mountain goats of …

Moon rocks could help reveal how life evolved on Earth

…and may enable us to resurrect extinct species Life is the last thing you would associate with the eternally dark craters of the lunar poles. But these craters could hold the key to explaining how complex, multi-cellular organisms evolved on Earth hundreds of millions of years ago, affording unimaginable insights into our planet’s biological past. …

Coronavirus: world’s response has slashed CO2 emissions – here’s how to keep them down

How do you respond to a crisis? It’s obvious that the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been dramatically different from anything provoked by repeated scientific warnings about climate change. The many organisations that declared climate emergencies throughout 2019 and 2020 have so far enacted nothing like the scale and speed of action to limit …