L.A. Times - Science

In-depth science news coverage of space exploration, medical science, climate change, technological breakthroughs and more.

New U.S. weather satellite can't keep cool, threatening photo quality

The nation's newest weather satellite, launched under three months ago, has a serious cooling problem that could affect the quality of its pictures.

The trouble is with the GOES-17 satellite's premier instrument for taking images of hurricanes, wildfires, volcanic eruptions and other natural calamities,...

05/24/2018 04:00 AM
Legend of Loch Ness monster will be tested with DNA samples

The stories seem as tall as the lake is deep. For hundreds of years, visitors to Scotland's Loch Ness have described seeing a monster that some believe lurks in the depths.

But now the legend of Nessie may have no place left to hide. A New Zealand scientist next month is leading an international...

05/24/2018 03:40 AM
Weight-loss surgery is associated with a reduced risk of melanoma, researchers say

In addition to rapid and lasting weight loss and a passel of other health benefits, bariatric surgery has now been linked to a 61% reduction in the risk of developing malignant melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer most closely associated with excessive sun exposure.

The new research, to be presented...

05/24/2018 12:35 AM
Obesity may make women more vulnerable to a host of cancers, especially if they gain weight quickly

Compared to women of normal weight, those with obesity are 24% more likely to develop one of a handful of cancers linked to the condition, and their chances of developing cancers of the kidney or endometrium were around twice as high as those of normal-weight women, new research has found.

In a...

05/23/2018 11:05 PM
To get smokers to quit, money works better than electronic cigarettes

When it comes to helping smokers quit, financial rewards are much more effective than electronic cigarettes.

But the sad truth is that nothing works all that well, according to the results of a large clinical trial that tested five smoking-cessation strategies in real-world conditions.

Out of 6,006...

05/23/2018 09:45 PM
By getting serious about limiting global warming, the world could save itself more than $20 trillion

Fighting global warming is starting to sound like a lucrative investment. A new study out of Stanford University finds that keeping global warming a half-degree beneath the Paris climate agreement’s 2 degree Celsius target could potentially save more than $20 trillion globally.

The findings, described...

05/23/2018 06:20 PM
Can simulating evolution on a computer explain our enormous brains?

Compared to the rest of the animal kingdom, the human brain is way out of whack.

Our brains are roughly six times larger than what you would expect for a placental mammal of our stature, scientists say.

And no other animal has a brain as large as ours relative to body size.

So why did humans evolve...

05/23/2018 05:00 PM
Researchers tally the physical and financial costs of opioid painkillers' side effects

The opioid crisis has shown us that prescription painkillers and their illicit counterparts can wreak havoc in American communities. Now researchers have quantified the damage they can do inside hospitals when administered to patients following surgeries and other invasive medical procedures.


05/23/2018 03:00 PM
New 'unified theory' of childhood leukemia raises possibility of preventing the disease

Kids who develop acute lymphoblastic leukemia may be the victims of a triple-whammy stroke of bad luck, according to a provocative new theory from a respected British cancer researcher.

If the explanation turns out to be correct, it would be good news for the most common type of childhood cancer:...

05/23/2018 10:00 AM
A rare great ape, a 130-foot-tall tree and an extinct marsupial lion make the Top 10 New Species list for 2018
The highest branches of a Brazilian forest. The permanent darkness of a cave in China. The deepest place on Earth. Meet the Top 10 new species that were described by science in the previous year.
05/23/2018 09:45 AM
Soon you can visit this pristine California beach — if you're a nearby landowner, on a guided tour or willing to paddle 2 miles

One of California’s least tarnished stretches of coastline will be accessible only to wealthy property owners, visitors with guides and those who can boat or paddle two miles under a deal between state officials and landowners in Hollister Ranch, who have for decades fought to keep their beaches...

05/22/2018 09:40 PM
Stolen from another sun: This backward-traveling asteroid could be an interstellar space fossil

Scientists have discovered an immigrant in our midst: an asteroid near Jupiter’s orbit that arrived from outside the solar system some 4.5 billion years ago.

The orbit of 2015 BZ509, described in a letter in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, could offer a way for scientists...

05/22/2018 07:15 PM
The death rate from cancer is falling for American men, women and children of all backgrounds

Cancer is the No. 2 cause of death in the U.S., but a comprehensive new report says that it is affecting — and killing — fewer Americans with every passing year.

The gains have been seen in men, women and children, as well as across racial and ethnic groups. However, depending on the type of cancer...

05/22/2018 02:00 PM
Yes, President Trump, there is a difference between HIV and HPV. Here's a handy tipsheet

In the early days of his presidency, Donald Trump famously declared that “nobody knew that healthcare could be so complicated.”

At the time, he was talking about health insurance. But perhaps he was also thinking about two potentially life-threatening viruses — HIV and HPV.

In a video that came...

05/19/2018 06:10 AM
A little extra global warming will mean a lot more habitat loss for plants and animals, study says

What difference does half a degree Celsius of global warming make?

To many plants and animals, and especially insects, it could mean the difference between life and death, according to a new study.

In a paper published Thursday in Science, researchers report that limiting global warming to 1.5...

05/18/2018 08:40 PM
California moves closer to crafting specific water caps for urban districts

California cities and towns may find themselves on a water budget in the next decade under a pair of bills approved Thursday by the legislature.

The measures follow Gov. Jerry Brown’s call to make water conservation a permanent way of life in a state long accustomed to jewel-green lawns and suburban...

05/18/2018 12:00 PM
In a distant galaxy, scientists find oldest oxygen in universe and stars from edge of cosmic dawn

In a distant galaxy more than 13 billion light-years from Earth, astronomers have discovered traces of the oldest known oxygen in the universe, as well as evidence that ancient stars “turned on” as early as 250 million years after the Big Bang.

These findings, published Wednesday in Nature, suggest...

05/17/2018 10:00 PM
The U.S. birthrate hits another record low. Even women in their 30s are having fewer babies
America's birth rate hit yet another record low in 2017, as mothers in nearly all age groups give birth to fewer babies last year than they had the year before, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
05/17/2018 07:55 PM
To prevent recurrent strokes, should aspirin have a wingman? Maybe not

When it comes to preventing the formation of potentially deadly blood clots in people at elevated risk for them, there are no easy answers.

That’s the upshot of a clinical trial involving patients who suffered a stroke that resolved quickly and caused no lasting damage.

For these patients, adding...

05/17/2018 11:00 AM
FDA approves Lucemyra to treat symptoms of opioid withdrawal and help patients overcome addiction

The battle against opioid addiction in the United States got a new weapon Wednesday, in the form of a pill to help patients manage symptoms of withdrawal.

The Food and Drug Administration said it gave its seal of approval to Lucemyra, a medication that has been used to treat opioid withdrawal in...

05/16/2018 11:25 PM
Yanny or Laurel? Why people hear different words
Yanny or Laurel? Not since the infamous dress of 2015 has the internet been this consumed - and divided - by a meme.
05/16/2018 04:05 PM
Computers crack the code of pop-song success: It helps to be 'happy' and 'female'

If you find it hard to predict which songs are destined for pop-chart success and which will flop, try asking a computer.

After analyzing the attributes of more than half a million songs released over a period of 30 years, a computer algorithm was able to sort the successful songs from also-rans...

05/16/2018 10:00 AM
Strange readings from a dead spacecraft reveal new evidence of water on Europa

A spacecraft wouldn’t recognize evidence of a lunar geyser if that geyser hit it in the face. Luckily, the scientists on the ground did.

Researchers using 21-year-old data from NASA’s Galileo spacecraft have found evidence of a plume of material coming from the surface of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa....

05/15/2018 03:30 PM
Health officials launch ambitious plan to rid the world of trans fats

In an effort to save half a million lives each year, the World Health Organization on Monday urged developing nations to follow the lead of affluent countries and eliminate man-made trans fatty acids from their food supplies.

By taking six specific steps, officials from the United Nations’ health...

05/15/2018 01:05 AM
Melania Trump had an embolization to treat a kidney condition. What is an embolization?
The White House says First Lady Melania Trump had an embolization procedure to treat a benign kidney condition. A urologist explains what an embolization is and why it would be helpful.
05/14/2018 10:55 PM