A guide to the solar system’s biggest secrets

What comes after Pluto? (Sara Chodosh/) Astronomers have spent centuries filling in their sketches of our corner of the Milky Way. But these charts, like all maps, are only approximations of reality. Their blind spots likely harbor some unknown entities—bodies too small, too close to the sun, or too far away for us to see. […]

The 10 biggest physics stories of 2020

Let’s admit it: It’s been a pretty rough year for our neck of the solar system. But it’s been a great year for scientists studying more distant reaches of the universe. From a colossal explosion to mystery burps deciphered, here were some of the top stories in physics in 2020. 10. Boom! (Image credit: X-ray: […]

The 10 biggest archaeology discoveries of 2020

With the pandemic and accompanying economic recession clouding 2020, it goes without saying that the year will not go down as the happiest for humanity. The archaeology world also felt the effects, as numerous digs were canceled or curtailed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the difficult year, many archaeological and historical discoveries […]

What’s the biggest group of animals ever recorded on Earth?

In early 2020, ornithologist Noah Strycker found himself walking amongst several thousand chinstrap penguins on Elephant Island, a remote blip of snow-covered rock just off the Antarctic Peninsula. He was there to carry out a census of the island’s penguin colony, which hadn’t been properly surveyed since 1970. “I’ll never forget the sight, sound, and…smell,” […]

North America’s biggest salmon run may no longer be in danger

Sockeye salmon migrating up a riffle. (Jonny Armstrong /) This story originally featured on Outdoor Life. Last Wednesday the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced its rejection of the Pebble Limited Partnership’s permit application to develop a copper-molybdenum-gold mine in southwest Alaska. The proposed project would have been located 200 miles southwest of Anchorage, near […]

Race to save whales in Sri Lanka’s biggest mass stranding

The causes of mass strandings remain unknown Rescuers and volunteers were racing Monday to save about 100 pilot whales stranded on Sri Lanka’s western coast in the island nation’s biggest-ever mass beaching. The short-finned pilot whales began beaching at Panadura, 25 kilometres (15 miles) south of Colombo, shortly before dusk and within an hour their […]

Biggest Risk to Surface Water After a Wildfire? It’s Complicated

California’s CZU Lightning Complex Fire is 100% contained, but it’s still smoldering almost 2 months after it started and people were evacuated. For those residents of Santa Cruz County who returned to find their homes still standing, the sense of relief soon turned back to anxiety as they received mixed messages about how […]

The world’s biggest jet engine, explained

The engine’s fan measures about 11 feet across. (GE Aviation/) Late last month, the Federal Aviation Administration signed off on the biggest commercial jet engine in the world. The huge thrusters that it certified are the GE9X engines, one of which hangs under each wing of Boeing’s new widebody 777x aircraft. That plane flew for […]