L.A. Times - Science

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

There is a multibillion-dollar hole in the delta tunnels funding plan

The decision by one of the state’s major water players to opt out of California’s $17-billion replumbing project was a surprise to many. The reasons for it were not.

California WaterFix’s financing plans have assumed that the Westlands Water District and other agricultural districts would cover...

09/24/2017 05:35 PM
Look up! You might see NASA's asteroid-hunting spacecraft fly past Earth

It’s time to wave goodbye ... for now. This morning, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx is zipping past Earth on its way to the asteroid Bennu – the last time we’ll see the spacecraft until 2023.

At 9:52 a.m. Pacific, OSIRIS-REx (short for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification and Security-Regolith...

09/22/2017 03:25 PM
Mosquitoes spread deadly diseases, and public health experts hope to fight back with this new emoji

Mosquitoes are more than a spoiler of backyard barbecues. They threaten more than half the world’s population with their disease-spreading bites. In fact, mosquitoes are deadlier — by far — than sharks and snakes.

They are the incubator and chief disseminator of malaria, dengue and yellow fevers,...

09/22/2017 11:30 AM
Plant-eating dinosaurs may have dined on crustaceans on special occasions, study says

Think dinosaurs didn’t mix things up at mealtime? Think again. Researchers studying fossilized dinosaur feces from about 75 million years ago have discovered that at least some plant-eating dinosaurs also snacked on shellfish.

The discovery of crustacean remains in the droppings, described in Scientific...

09/22/2017 12:15 AM
Disgraced ex-Patriots player Aaron Hernandez found to have CTE and early brain atrophy

Five months after Aaron Hernandez hanged himself in a prison cell with a bedsheet while serving a life sentence for first-degree murder, the former New England Patriots tight end has been diagnosed with severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Hernandez, who died at age 27, is one of the youngest...

09/21/2017 10:45 PM
Water district vote deals major blow to California's delta tunnel project

The board of the Westlands Water District on Tuesday dealt a potentially fatal blow to the most ambitious California water project planned in decades.

By a 7-1 vote, the state's largest irrigation district decided not to join California WaterFix — a $17-billion plan to build two tunnels under the...

09/19/2017 10:45 PM
Domestic violence homicide rate drops with stricter gun law, study finds

When domestic violence offenders are required to relinquish their guns, instead of simply being barred from owning firearms, the risk that those offenders may kill their partners goes down, a new study finds.

The paper, described in the Annals of Internal Medicine, highlights a simple method for...

09/19/2017 09:20 PM
Pediatricians may view tattoos, piercings as red flags. They should discuss it instead, report says

Tattoos or pierced body parts have long been considered a red flag for pediatricians who found them on their patients. Physicians who came across an inked symbol or a navel ring while examining an adolescent or young adult were taught to probe for other dangerous behaviors, including drug use,...

09/18/2017 11:35 PM
Will the Southland wind up holding much of the $17-billion bill for the delta water tunnels?

Some of the state’s biggest water districts are about to make their opening moves in a financial chess game that ultimately could saddle the Southland with much of the bill for re-engineering the failing heart of California’s water system.

In coming weeks, the districts are expected to decide if...

09/18/2017 12:00 PM
Cassini scientists celebrate the mission's end with a few hundred of their closest friends
Hundreds of scientists and their families gathered at Caltech in the wee hours of Friday morning to bid farewell to Cassini, the NASA spacecraft that spent the past 13 years exploring Saturn.
09/15/2017 11:10 PM
How soon can NASA go back to Saturn? This is what has to happen first

Cassini team members at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory hugged and shed tears in the dark hours of Friday morning after hearing the doomed spacecraft’s final signals as it dove into Saturn’s atmosphere.

But officials made it clear: While it may have been the end for Cassini, it’s not the end for...

09/15/2017 10:40 PM
As NASA’s Cassini mission flames out over Saturn, scientists mark bittersweet end of mission

They clapped, though they didn’t smile.

But what did you expect? Cassini, their beloved spacecraft, was dead.

Confirmation that the explorer had indeed vaporized as planned in the cloud tops of Saturn was received at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory just before 5 a.m. Friday morning.

“The signal from...

09/15/2017 10:05 PM
See Enceladus set behind Saturn and Cassini's last view of the ringed planet
Cassini captured 453,048 images of Saturn. These were some of its last views.
09/15/2017 02:55 PM
Cassini plunges to its death at Saturn, and humanity says goodbye
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has burned up in the Saturnian sky. Scientists and engineers on Earth react to receiving its final signal.
09/15/2017 12:30 PM
Cassini, the NASA spacecraft that expanded the search for life beyond Earth, dies in Saturn’s sky

Cassini, the NASA spacecraft whose breakthrough discoveries about Saturn and its many moons revolutionized the search for life beyond Earth, disintegrated Friday morning in the skies above the ringed planet. It was one month shy of its 20th anniversary in space.

The explorer’s death was swift and...

09/15/2017 12:00 PM
UCLA scientists create an air conditioner that fits in your pocket

Imagine being able to put an air conditioner in your pocket or never worrying about your smartphone overheating again. Those dreams could one day be reality, thanks to a pocket-sized cooler developed by researchers at UCLA.

The tiny device, described in the journal Science, could potentially be...

09/14/2017 09:50 PM
Caltech scientists make robots out of DNA that can pick stuff up and move it around

In the future, swarms of robots could be called in to build impressive structures or clean up dangerous messes too small to be seen with the naked eye. Just ask researchers at Caltech, who have designed surprisingly simple robots made of DNA.

The findings, published in the journal Science, mark...

09/14/2017 06:25 PM
Lawsuit aims to end commercial fur trapping in California

Conservation groups, aiming to end California’s dwindling fur trade, filed a lawsuit Wednesday that would force state wildlife authorities to raise license fees to levels required by law to cover the full costs of regulating the trapping, killing and skinning of wild animals.

That would drive the...

09/13/2017 11:50 PM
Cassini is less than 48 hours away from total destruction. But first, science

The course has been set. The end is in sight. There’s no turning back now.

After 13 years of making dazzling discoveries in the Saturn system, Cassini’s time is just about up.

In the wee hours of Friday morning, the NASA spacecraft will dive into Saturn at 76,000 mph. Within minutes it will vaporize...

09/13/2017 11:25 PM
Up to 7 years of hormone therapy is safe for postmenopausal women, new data show

For decades now, women navigating menopause have been buffeted by shifting research findings on the risks and possible benefits of hormone-replacement therapy. Now, a landmark clinical trial that followed more than 27,000 subjects for roughly 18 years has offered some conclusive evidence that neither...

09/12/2017 11:20 PM
'OK. Let’s do it!' An oral history of how NASA's Cassini mission to Saturn came to be
The Cassini mission has been an unequivocal success - but its fate was not always certain. This is the story of how it got off the ground, told by the people who were there.
09/12/2017 12:00 PM
Get up at least once every 30 minutes. Failure to do so may shorten your life, study finds

You can spend a lot of accumulated time on your bottom in the course of a day. Or you can sit for lengthy spells without a break.

Both, it turns out, are very bad for you.

Whether you’re a heavy sitter or a binge-sitter, racking up prolonged sedentary time increases your risk of early death, according...

09/11/2017 11:50 PM
Epic storms, new moons and worlds that might host life: Here are Cassini's greatest discoveries
So long Cassini, and thanks for all the science. Here are highlights of NASA's 13-year-long mission at Saturn.
09/11/2017 11:45 PM
Fires, droughts and hurricanes: What's the link between climate change and natural disasters?
Hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters seem to be getting more severe. Here's how they may be linked with climate change.
09/10/2017 07:40 PM
Check out Cassini’s jaw-dropping discoveries of Saturn’s moons

Saturn is famous for its rings, but more than 60 moons orbit the planet as well. The lunar line-up includes some of the most intriguing worlds in the solar system, including two that are promising candidates in the search for life beyond Earth.

Thanks to NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, we know more...

09/08/2017 08:30 PM