Science

  • Benefits of hyaluronic acid in skincare products have been oversold

    Hyaluronic acid is often added to facial oils and serums with the promise of reducing the appearance of wrinkles Layla Bird/Getty Hyaluronic acid, a popular skincare ingredient, doesn’t hold 1000 times its weight in water, despite frequent marketing claims. The ingredient is a humectant, a substance that attracts moisture. Applied topically, it can improve skin hydration, enhance elasticity and reduce…

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  • Thousands of humpback whales starved to death after marine heatwave

    Humpback whales were affected by a marine heatwave in the Pacific Ocean Nicola Ransome The number of humpback whales in the North Pacific Ocean fell by 20 per cent between 2012 and 2021, according to a study that used artificial intelligence to identify individual whales from photos of their tails. The decline coincided with a massive marine heatwave sometimes called…

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  • Two lunar landers have fallen over – but they’re still doing okay

    An image taken by the Odysseus lander moments after it tipped over Intuitive Machines Both of the landers currently on the surface of the moon have ended up lying on their sides, but they still appear to be functioning surprisingly well. The Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) launched by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) touched down on the…

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  • Making wastewater less acidic could help the ocean capture more carbon

    Altering wastewater released into the ocean could help store carbon stockphoto-graf / Alamy Reducing the acidity of the huge volumes of wastewater discharged into the oceans could be a relatively straightforward way to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and slow climate change. But early tests have spurred controversy over potential environmental consequences. Ming Li at the University of Maryland…

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  • Why science relies too much on mathematics

    The following is an extract from our Lost in Space-Time newsletter. Each month, we hand over the keyboard to a physicist or mathematician to tell you about fascinating ideas from their corner of the universe. You can sign up for Lost in Space-Time for free here. “Science is written in the language of mathematics,” proclaimed Galileo in 1623. And over the…

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  • Playing underwater sounds could help coral reefs fight global warming

    2023 was the hottest year recorded on planet Earth – and that includes the world’s oceans, where records fell like dominos. Last week, around 5000 scientists gathered in New Orleans for the American Geophysical Union’s biennial Ocean Sciences Meeting. Environment reporter James Dinneen was there to take the temperature of the researchers, who have been watching change after change unfold…

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  • Odd quantum property may let us chill things closer to absolute zero

    There is a brand new way to keep things cool Botyev Volodymyr/Shutterstock A new type of cooling relies on an exotic quantum mechanical property rather than putting objects into cold environments like refrigerators – and it might one day help us chill things to temperatures lower than any we have reached before. How cold or warm an object is depends…

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  • Is the human brain really the most complex object in the universe?

    The Crescent Nebula: more complex than the human brain? Reinhold Wittich/Stocktrek Images/Alamy BACK in 2012, neuroscientist Christof Koch wrote in his book Consciousness: Confessions of a romantic reductionist that the human brain is “the most complex object in the known universe”. Given that there are about 86 billion neurons in a brain, connected up in ways that we are only beginning…

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  • ADHD may have evolved to help foragers know when to cut their losses

    Early hunter-gatherers who faced food scarcity may have benefitted from the impulsivity that can come with ADHD JOHN SIBBICK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may have evolved in hunter-gatherer societies because it was advantageous for foragers, according to the results of a new study. Traits that are commonly associated with the condition, such as impulsivity, might have encouraged…

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  • AI can tell a person’s sex from brain scans with 90 per cent accuracy

    Men’s brains tend to be larger than women’s, which makes them difficult to compare Sergiy Tryapitsyn / Alamy Are men’s and women’s brains all that different? A new way of investigating this question has concluded that they are – but it takes artificial intelligence (AI) to distinguish between them. The question of whether we can measure differences between men’s and…

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