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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: So Long, Mr. Spock
18 January 2013 3:25 pm
Long before Star Trek's Mr. Spock (inset), many astronomers during the 19th and early 20th centuries thought a planet named Vulcan circled the sun inside the orbit of Mercury (shown transiting the sun, main image) and tugged on the latter, accounting for peculiarities in Mercury's motion. Well, Vulcan doesn't exist—Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity explains Mercury's orbit—but asteroids known as vulcanoids could, circling so close to the sun that we can't see them in its glare. If vulcanoids are real, they're only 7% to 21% as far from the sun as Earth is: closer than that and they evaporate in the sun's heat, farther than that and Mercury kicks them away. Now, in the March issue of Icarus, astronomers report results of a search using STEREO, two NASA spacecraft that revolve around the sun near Earth's orbit. The scientists found no new objects, ruling out the existence of any vulcanoids larger than about 6 kilometers, which is less than half the mean diameter of the little martian moon Deimos. But the search would have missed smaller vulcanoids, so an even deeper exploration might be, as Spock would say, the logical thing to do.
See more ScienceShots.