Features

How to score a perfect free throw
Angle, launch speed, aim point and muscle memory – all as controlled as in a dance movement – are the magic elements that make it what might be basketball’s most complex shot

The looming threat over Mexico City
A study on the 2017 quake that killed 300 finds that both its location and cause were unusual. And seismologists say that rare bending earthquake could repeat itself

What Stephen Hawking did
Though confined to a wheelchair, the scientist’s mind ranged restlessly across the universe, and broke original ground with his work on black holes

Caves may suck up methane
There is evidence that the porous karst, formed by soluble minerals, absorbs more of the greenhouse gas than it releases

Why Venus flytraps don’t lunch on their pollinators
Its flowers, positioned at a height, draw flying insects that can carry away pollen; the traps far below provide easier access to walking prey

A fatty liver needn’t kill you
While healthy living could help, researchers are running down novel ways to address the problem

A trove of buried human history
Among the remains found at Sunghir, where funeral rituals ranged from the ornate to the desultory, the dead with physical deformities got extravagant treatment

Language cues to human migration
Comparing linguistic features of languages and possible sources of origin provides a history of when and how people moved across continents

How we know that Neanderthals were artists
Two researchers explain how they concluded that Neanderthals were not all that different from the modern humans who replaced them

The parallels between pregnancy and cancer
In both conditions, the immune system does not merely ignore invasive cells, it actively encourages their growth

Andromeda is younger than Earth
Simulations based on new data suggest that Andromeda, our Milky Way’s sister galaxy, is the result of a merging of two star systems at least 1.8 billion years ago

More power to the magnesium battery
It is cheaper, abundant and carries more charge. Now the metal has been yoked to vanadium to better harness its capability

Making plants more efficient
Scientists work to reduce errors in photosynthesis to improve yields

Evolution in fast forward
Hard times can snuff out some species. But with sufficient genetic diversity, a population can evolve with remarkable speed – even within a generation

Rat bones and the mystery of ‘hobbit’ island
Researchers consider food choice, hunting range and other factors to find out what caused the disappearance of a diminutive human species

A rip in geological time
Around the time multicellular organisms were diversifying, a supercontinent rose up fast and then crumbled away, leaving a yawning gap in the rock record

The rock that shook the earth
The meteorite that brought about dinosaur extinction also sparked volcanic eruptions throughout the world’s oceans

A dino in rippling color
A wonderfully preserved Jurassic relative of both birds and T. rex shows that iridescent feathers were fashionable in ancient times, too

Every ring tells a story
The past comes clothed in rich detail, thanks to tree ring data, archaeological evidence, oral traditions, linguistics, genetics, and other data

Do jellyfish dream of android squid?
Intriguing research suggests that sleep has a long evolutionary history

How our gold was forged in colliding neutron stars
The cataclysmic event set off a gravitational tsunami and, along with other heavy metals, generated about 10 Earths’ worth of gold

Getting zapped for science
Researcher finds out why an electric eel leaps out of the water to give him huge shocks

When Zika battles cancer
Zika depletes the stem cell reservoir for new brain tumor cells, reducing the likelihood of a relapse

Imaging links toolmaking with human smarts
A researcher describes how getting modern people to make Stone Age tools shows what brain power our ancestors needed to do the same thing

The evolving story of the Folsom spear point
The dating is better, but it is now less clear if this most famous artifact killed the bison it was found in

Light at night linked to breast cancer risk
Starting with a study of nurses on night duty, a researcher explains the dangers involved

Sifting through the history of fire
How and when our ancestors mastered the use of fire remains debated. Researchers are hunting for answers buried in ancient ash and baked soils

An electric fix for chemicals in groundwater
Neither water or grease can bond with PFAs. So researchers have gone down and dirty

Weaponized fungus takes on the mosquito
Fungi could be one answer to the world’s mosquito problem, or so suggests recent research

A cannibal cancer that eats, then sleeps
‘Cannibalism’ by breast cancer cells promotes dormancy, providing a possible clue into recurrence

Sun, shade and clean energy
A polymer of molybdenum sulfide uses solar power to draw hydrogen from water

DNA reveals the history of cats
Genetic info shows the historic route taken by the animals that now tolerate us in our homes

Quantum physics to the rescue
Charging a car on the run has come just a wee bit closer

AI-designed antivirals could battle next pandemic
Computer modeling builds a new kind of antiviral protein

Heroin vaccine works in primates
This is the first opioid vaccine to get this far in pre-clinical research

Neil deGrasse Tyson on journalism and science
Researcher brings the house down at a function to honor his work promoting science