The lead federal agency investigating the West Virginia chemical leak is one that most Americans have probably never heard of. The Chemical Safety Board is an independent body, modeled after the National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates plane crashes and the like. But critics say that the Chemical Safety Board is understaffed, underfunded and takes too long to finish its investigations, and that its non-binding recommendations are often ignored anyway.
The U.S. State Department made a much-anticipated announcement on the Keystone XL pipeline on Friday. Its report finds that while the heavy crude oil that the pipeline will carry from Canada is dirtier than regular crude, stopping the pipeline won't keep that crude in the ground. There are other ways besides the pipeline that will likely keep the heavy crude business afloat. This decision won't please opponents of the pipeline, nor does it give the go-ahead to the project. Secretary of State John Kerry and eventually President Obama will make that decision.
It's been there for thousands, maybe tens of thousands of years — a huge, solid, endless mass of white ice. Then, all of sudden ("It's starting, Adam," says an onlooker) there's a crack, then another, and whoosh, an immense field vanishes — splits, splits again, and right before your eyes (you've got to see this) sinks into the sea. This is how ice leaves our planet.
Magnets have a north pole, and a south pole. But electromagnetic theory says there should be a bit of matter that is unipolar, that is either north or south pole, but not both. So far the search for the real magnetic monopole has been fruitless, but now physicists at Amherst college have created a synthetic magnetic monopole, something that provides hope that the search for the real thing will ultimately succeed.
Research explores the consequences of boosting self-esteem when it is not justified. When self-esteem is artificially boosted, it reduces performance and effort — as people seek to protect the fragile gain in self-esteem by withdrawing from effort and the risk of failure. When self-esteem is diminished without justification, people appear to work harder to retrieve lost feelings of self-worth.
The world's largest breeding colony of Magellanic penguins is seeing unprecedented deaths among young birds. A scientist who has spent 30 years studying the penguins says that climate change is to blame — triggering, among other things, more heat waves and wetter storms that kill fledglings.
To understand speech, the brain has to quickly recognize the sounds used to form words. Now researchers have discovered a way to watch how the brain does this. They've found that the process of understanding speech involves highly specialized brain cells, which respond specifically to the dozen sounds produced by the human vocal tract.
Low-fat ice cream just won't cut it for you? Maybe it's your nose telling you it's not the real deal. Researchers have found that people can actually smell differences in dietary fat in food. It's an ability that might have helped our ancestors find the best foods to survive on.