A major crop pest can make tomato plants lie to their neighbors

Don’t blame the tomato. Tiny pests called silverleaf whiteflies can make a tomato plant spread deceptive scents that leave its neighbors vulnerable to attach. Sap-sucking Bemisia tabaci, an invasive menace to a wide range of crops, are definitely insects. Yet when they attack a tomato plant, prompting a silent shriek of scents, the plant starts ... Read more

520-million-year-old animal fossils might not be animals after all

A species that lived about 520 million years ago and was thought to be the oldest known bryozoan is instead a type of colony-forming algae, a new study proposes.Bryozoans are filter-feeding, tentacle-bearing animals that live in apartment complex–like colonies attached to rocks, shells or other surfaces on seafloors or lake bottoms. Trouble is, some other ... Read more

How wildfires deplete the Earth’s ozone layer

Towering clouds of smoke sent into the stratosphere by ferocious wildfires can eat away at Earth’s ozone layer thanks to a potent mix of smoke, atmospheric chemistry and ultraviolet light, a new study finds.During late 2019 and early 2020, Australia’s skies turned black, darkened by thick columns of wildfire smoke that reached into the stratosphere. ... Read more

Dry farming could help agriculture in the western U.S. amid climate change

In the parking lot behind a grocery store in Portland, Ore., last September, several hundred tomato aficionados gathered on a sunny, breezy day for Tomato Fest. While many attendees devoured slices of tomato quiche and admired garlands of tomatoes with curiously pointed ends, I beelined to a yellow-tented booth hosted by Oregon State University. Agricultural ... Read more

See the ‘periodic table’ of molecular knots

Like a scouting handbook for the molecular realm, a new chart reveals how to tie molecules up in knots of increasing complexity. Mathematicians have cataloged billions of distinct knot types, but researchers have been able to make only a few molecular versions. Scientists craft the minuscule knots using a solution filled with building blocks of ... Read more

OSIRIS-REx snaps first images of asteroid Bennu

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has its destination in its sights. On August 17, the probe took its first images of the asteroid 101955 Bennu, marking the beginning of the spacecraft’s approach after a nearly two-year space voyage. “I can’t explain enough how much it meant to this team,” mission principal investigator Dante Lauretta, a planetary scientist ... Read more

Strange gamma rays from the sun may help decipher its magnetic fields

The sleepy sun turns out to be a factory of extremely energetic light. Scientists have discovered that the sun puts out more of this light, called high-energy gamma rays, overall than predicted. But what’s really weird is that the rays with the highest energies appear when the star is supposed to be at its most ... Read more

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill ruined long-term shore stability

Long after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the marshy shores of the Gulf of Mexico were still feeling the effects of the disaster. Marsh grass retained plant-smothering oil, and the soil continued to crumble away at a faster rate than before the spill, causing the shoreline to retreat more rapidly than it would otherwise, a ... Read more

‘Mommy brain’ doesn’t capture how the brain transforms during pregnancy

Pregnancy shrinks parts of the brain. That sounds bad. Throw in the forgetfulness and fogginess, or “momnesia,” that many moms report, and what’s left is the notion that for the brain, the transition to motherhood is a net loss. “I see it on social media all the time,” says neuroscientist and therapist Jodi Pawluski of ... Read more

Air pollution made an impression on Monet and other 19th century painters

The 19th century landscape paintings hanging in London’s Tate Britain museum looked awfully familiar to climate physicist Anna Lea Albright. Artist Joseph Mallord William Turner’s signature way of shrouding his vistas in fog and smoke reminded Albright of her own research tracking air pollution. “I started wondering if there was a connection,” says Albright, who ... Read more