Welcome to the Archive!

Below you will find the Unbelievably Cool Science links and articles originally posted on our homepage. They are listed in chronological order, most recent posts at the top. All references and credits are included in links to the original articles.

Most of Mars’ missing water may lurk in its crust

March 16, 2021:

Once home to lakes and rivers, Mars is now a frigid desert (SN: 12/8/14). Scientists have typically blamed that on Mars’ water wafting out of the planet’s atmosphere into space (SN: 11/12/20). But measurements of atmospheric water loss made by spacecraft like NASA’s MAVEN orbiter are not enough to account for all of Mars’ missing water — which was once so abundant it could have covered the whole planet in a sea up to 1,500 meters deep. That’s more than half the volume of the Atlantic Ocean. (Click to read more).

Assistance dogs’ feet are pawsitively cleaner than the soles of shoes

April 8, 2021:

More than 10,000 people in Europe use an assistance dog, whether that’s a guide dog, a hearing dog, a medical response dog, or a psychiatric service dog… While the law states that these dogs are allowed access to shops, hospitals, public transport, restaurants, and other places, in reality, many owners of assistance dogs report that they and their dogs are often refused entry…  but a new pilot study by Utrecht University in the Netherlands has found that the paws of assistance dogs are cleaner than the soles of shoes(Click to read more)

Sea Urchin Takeover of California Kelp Forests

Mar 29, 2021: Ninety-five percent of northern California coast kelp forests have been lost, but sea otters are helping farther south.

Joshua Smith has been diving in kelp forests in Monterey Bay along the central coast of California since 2012. Back then, he says, things looked very different. Being underwater was like being in a redwood forest, where the kelp was like “towering tall cathedrals,” says Smith, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Their tops were so lush that it was hard to maneuver a boat across them. No longer… (Click to read more).

Why Does Iceland’s Fagradalsfjall Volcano Look Like a School Science Project?

Mar 26, 2021To many people around the world, the all-but-certain prospect of a new volcanic eruption on Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula sounded ominous. But in March 2021, when lava rushed out of a fissure in a valley named Geldingadalur—a comfortable six miles away from the nearest town, Grindavík—those in Iceland were nothing but thrilled. (Click to read more)

Tiny Spider Uses Silk to Lift Prey 50 Times its Own Weight

Mar 26, 2021: Spinning the right lines can accomplish incredible feats of strength!

A small Steatoda spider uses its own version of a pulley-like system, created by adding repeated silk threads. This can haul heavy loads upward bit by bit, such as the lizard shown here. (Click to read more)

What is statistics?

Mar 23, 2021: An isolated numerical fact can be a statistic. The field of statistics is different. It uses data sets to scout for patterns between things, looking to find a causal link, such as whether whales exposed to noise from boats (as here) have fewer babies.

When describing statements with numbers, people often refer to them as statistics. For instance, if 70 out of 100 students got a B on an English test, that would be a statistic. So would the make-believe statement “90 percent of toddlers love tuna.” But the field of statistics involves much more than a collection of factoids. (Click to read more)

Juno Jupiter Probe

Mar 16, 2021: New results from the Ultraviolet Spectrograph instrument on NASA’s Juno mission reveal for the first time the birth of auroral dawn storms – the early morning brightening unique to Jupiter’s spectacular aurorae. These immense, transient displays of light occur at both Jovian poles and had previously been observed only by ground-based and Earth-orbiting observatories, notably NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. (Click to read more)

An ancient shark’s weird fins helped it glide like a manta ray

Mar 16, 2021: Thirty million years before manta rays began gracefully gliding through ocean waters, a shark with fantastically elongated fins gave such underwater flight a go, researchers report in the March 19 Science. (Click to Read More)

NASA’s Perseverance rover has touched down on Mars

Feb 19, 2021:

The NASA Perseverance rover has landed. “Touchdown confirmed! Perseverance is safely on the surface of Mars, ready to begin seeking the signs of past life,” NASA engineer Swati Mohan said during a Feb. 18 livestream of the landing.

The Perseverance team released some of the first images from the landing during a news briefing on February 19, including pictures of the Martian surface, the rover dangling below its landing gear, and an action shot from another spacecraft orbiting Mars. This is the beginning of Perseverance’s mission to explore an ancient river delta called Jezero crater, searching for signs of ancient life and collecting rocks for a future mission to return to Earth. (Click to Read More)

What Kids Need to Know About Getting a COVID-19 Shot

Jan 7, 2021:

Children and most teens do not yet qualify for coronavirus vaccinations. The vaccines still need to be tested in this age group. But ultimately kids and teens might be asked for proof of such a vaccination to play team sports.

On December 14, the first Americans got a vaccine designed to protect them from COVID-19. Health-care workers were put at the head of the line to get these shots. So were older adults living in care facilities. That’s according to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC. Over the coming months, other groups of adults will qualify for vaccination. But kids under age 16? They won’t be getting the shots. At least not yet. However, plenty of doctors are anxious to see that change. (Click to Read More)

Unbelievably Cool Science!

There are so many interesting and exciting things going on in science that we can not help but tell you about them. Take a look at what’s new! Also, you can explore previous installments in the Unbelievably Cool Science Archive by clicking here.

Sea Urchin Takeover of California Kelp Forests

Mar 29, 2021: Ninety-five percent of northern California coast kelp forests have been lost, but sea otters are helping farther south.

Joshua Smith has been diving in kelp forests in Monterey Bay along the central coast of California since 2012. Back then, he says, things looked very different. Being underwater was like being in a redwood forest, where the kelp was like “towering tall cathedrals,” says Smith, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Their tops were so lush that it was hard to maneuver a boat across them. No longer… (Click to read more).

Why Does Iceland’s Fagradalsfjall Volcano Look Like a School Science Project?

Mar 26, 2021: To many people around the world, the all-but-certain prospect of a new volcanic eruption on Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula sounded ominous. But in March 2021, when lava rushed out of a fissure in a valley named Geldingadalur—a comfortable six miles away from the nearest town, Grindavík—those in Iceland were nothing but thrilled. (Click to read more)