Science news

Climate change isn't just something to worry about here on Earth. New research published today shows that Mars has undergone a dramatic climate shift in the past that has rendered much of the planet inhospitable to life.

About 3.8 billion years ago, Mars was a reasonably pleasant place. It had a thick atmosphere filled with carbon dioxide that kept it warm. Rivers trickled into lakes across its surface. Some researchers think there might even have been an ocean.

courtesy Colorado State University

It's a windy morning in early June, and Colorado State University researcher Jennifer Barfield is peering anxiously at a herd of bison. One is trying, really hard, to have a baby. Its her first birth, and the mama bison keeps laying down, then standing up, trying to get the calf out of her body.

Barfield takes another look at the mama, who is penned in with a small herd of other bison at the CSU Foothills Campus.

"The feet of the baby are sticking out about 3-4 inches, and she's pushing which is a good sign," she notes. Barfield's normally-smiling face is furrowed with anxiety though; the birth, which usually takes less than an hour, is moving too slowly. Today, she knows, is more than just a birth. It's the culmination of years of work.

Something unusual is happening in America's wilderness — some animals and plants are moving away from their native habitats. The reason is a warming climate. It's getting too hot where they live.

Species that can't migrate may perish, so some biologists say we need to move them. But they admit that's a roll of the dice that violates a basic rule of conservation: If you want to keep the natural world "natural," you don't want to move plants and animals around willy-nilly.

Michigan Technological University

Clouds aren’t always what appear to be: Two clouds that look the same on the outside might indicate a dry day or a rainstorm, all depending on where they are. Cloud scientists have begun peering into what’s happening inside at a microscopic level, and they’ve found that the particles in clouds aren’t nearly as homogenous as they thought.

Scott Spuler, a research engineer at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, developed the holography technology in the study, “an instrument that could see and make a picture of roughly a thousand particles.” The three-dimensional imaging technique would allow the researchers to examine a few cubic centimeters of cloud, rather than cubic meters.

“We were never able to make measurements about clouds on these scales before,” says Spuler.

Maybe you've become inured to all the superlatives that get attached to sky-watching events. But the one on Sunday really is worth a look — it's the first total eclipse that's also a supermoon and a blood moon in more than three decades.

Paul Bentzen, via Cameron Ghalambor

Evolution may take place much faster than scientists previously thought. New findings suggest that it’s possible some species could adapt quickly to survive a shifting environment, as in the case of climate change.

Researchers at Colorado State University found that when they took guppies from an area teeming with predators and placed them in an area with no predators, the fish showed changes in genes after just a few generations.

“We found that the chemical cue of a predator is enough to elicit a whole series of changes,” says Cameron Ghalambor, a biology professor at CSU and lead author of the study.

Luke Runyon / KUNC, Harvest Public Media

On a research farm north of Fort Collins, Colorado, in a secret location, buried in the middle of a corn field, grows Colorado’s newest and most buzzed about commodity crop -- industrial hemp.

It’s almost harvest time at the farm, and soon researchers at Colorado State University will be adding bushels of hemp next to the usual, familiar piles of corn, wheat and oats.

Hemp is a member of the cannabis family, but it’s lacking in psychoactive properties. Instead, it’s grown more for fiber and oil. But decades of prohibition have left academia lacking in published scientific research about the plant’s very basic properties.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Your home is filled with microbes. Fungi and bacteria cover your appliances, your door handles, and even your skin.

Yet researchers lack understanding as to which species live inside the home and how those species vary between homes. A new study shows that the region where you live shapes what kinds of fungi are in your house. The bacteria, however, are more affected by which pets you live with.

“We live with this broad diversity of different microorganisms in our homes,” says study author Noah Fierer, a researcher at CU Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Studies. “Some could be potential allergens, many could actually be beneficial, and most are probably innocuous.”

To Keep The Grid Humming, You'd Better Check The Space Weather

Jul 27, 2015

If you've ever seen the Northern Lights, you've seen the most visible evidence of a solar storm. Bursts of electrically charged particles race toward Earth, and when they hit the planet's magnetic field, they cause beautiful auroras. A norm in northern locales, sky watchers in southerly states like Colorado were treated to a rare light show in June. In addition to clogging up your Instagram with photos, solar storms can also wreak havoc on our electric grid.

Federal regulators are working on new rules that are supposed to protect the electric grid from solar storms, but there's criticism that they don't go far enough.

Scientists have found a "new" horned dinosaur that lived about 79 million years ago — and they say the discovery helps them understand the early evolution of the family that includes Triceratops.

The new dinosaur, which was named Wendiceratops pinhornensis after a famous fossil hunter who discovered the bone bed in Canada where these fossils were buried, is one of the oldest known horned dinosaurs.