All Sections

No articles found

Core Concept

How Do We Feel the Emotions of Others?

When you see your friend disgusted to the point of vomiting, or laugh until it hurts, you immediately experience what your friend feels. Why do we feel the emotions of others around us? Neuroscience research has shown that our brain is equipped with special cells called mirror neurons that directly project information about others’ behavior into our own emotional brain regions. This mechanism shows that others’ emotions are not detected only by the visual part of the brain, but they also activate our own emotional responses, allowing us to understand and automatically transmit the same information to others. This is an incredibly fast and efficient way to communicate!

Authors

Giacomo Rizzolatti / Fausto Caruana
Reviewed by Champions of Science, Chabot Space and Science Center
Read more

Core Concept

We Are Never Alone: Living with the Human Microbiota

The human body is inhabited by millions of tiny living organisms, called human microbiota. Bacteria are microbes found in our skin, nose, mouth, and especially, in our gut. We acquire them during birth and the first years of life, and they live with us throughout our life. They are involved in our healthy growth, in protecting our body from invaders, in helping digestion and in our mood. Some changes may occur during our growth depending on the food we eat, the environment where we live, the people and animals that interact with us, or medicines we take such as antibiotics. Human microbiota help us to keep healthy, but in special occasions they can also be harmful. We need to take good care of our microbiota to avoid the development of some diseases, such as obesity and asthma. We should eat healthy food that contribute to develop the good microbiota.

Authors

Gabriela Jorge Da Silva / Sara Domingues
Reviewed by Jack and Addy
Read more

New Discovery

“Where Did My Friends Go?”: How Corn’s Microbe Partners Have Changed Over Time

Many of the foods we eat today look very different than they did in the past. Corn, or maize, didn’t exist ten thousand years ago: it descended from a weedy grass with tiny hard-shelled seeds that we wouldn’t recognize as corn kernels. That wild ancestor of corn, teosinte, grew in mixtures of many other plants instead of in cornfields like today. Big changes between teosinte and corn that we can see aboveground lead us to think that there have been changes belowground, too. Plants form partnerships with bacteria and fungi to get nutrients that they need to grow. Scientists are finding that microbes near the roots of teosinte are different than microbes that live around corn roots. Understanding how corn’s microbe partners have changed can help us make corn varieties that are better for the environment.

Authors

Jennifer E. Schmidt / Amélie C. M. Gaudin
Reviewed by Wish Bilingual School
Read more

Core Concept

Taste: Links in the Chain from Tongue to Brain

Taste sensitivity brings us some of the finest things in life: the sweetness of candy, the saltiness of chips, and the sourness of lemonade. We all know it starts on our tongue, but how does it really work? Scientists have discovered that taste perception comes from a chain reaction that starts with sensitive proteins on your tongue, races through taste buds, enters your nerves, and ends in your brain. One of the most amazing findings is that taste sensitivity varies from person to person. Each of us lives in a unique taste world, making everyone different in food loves and hates.

Authors

Lucy A. Vera / Stephen P. Wooding
Reviewed by Smith Middle School
Read more

Core Concept

How Does Photosynthesis Take Place in Our Oceans?

The food we eat is ultimately sourced from plants, either directly or indirectly. The importance of plants as the global kitchen can never be underestimated. Plants eat sunlight and carbon dioxide to produce their own food and for the millions of other organisms dependent on them. A molecule, chlorophyll, is crucial for this process since it absorbs sunlight. However, the way land plants produce their food is very different from the one in the oceans. Since light finds it harder to reach underneath the water in the oceans, food production, scientifically called photosynthesis, becomes very slow. Phycobiliproteins make this job easier, by absorbing the available light and passing it on to chlorophyll. These phycobiliproteins are found in tiny, invisible organisms called cyanobacteria. Their ‘food-producing’ reactions are critical for the survival of many living organisms like fishes, birds and other sea life. It is, therefore, very important for everyone to understand how cyanobacteria make their food and what important roles do the phycobiliproteins play in the process.

Authors

Tonmoy Ghosh / Sandhya Mishra
Reviewed by Matilde
Reviewed by Emilia
Read more

New Discovery

Why Do Little Kids Ask to Hear the Same Story Over and Over?

One way people learn new words is through reading books and stories. Little kids love hearing their favorite stories over and over and are also very good at learning new words. We wondered if reading the same stories could be helping preschool kids learn new words. Our research tested if it was better to read the same stories over and over or to read a few different stories. Here we tell you about three studies that show preschool kids learn more words from the same stories over and over. Our research suggests that it’s easier to learn new words from stories when you have heard the story before and know what is going to happen.

Authors

Zoe M. Flack / Jessica S. Horst
Reviewed by ITI Galileo Ferraris
Read more

Core Concept

Don’t Judge a Plant by Its Flowers

You may have noticed the diversity of plants in your own backyard or neighborhood and you may even have heard of the concept of evolution. But have you ever wondered what forces have contributed to creating the biodiversity of plants with different shapes and colors all over the world? Or how scientists hope to understand and explain how this biodiversity came to be over millions of years? Using a mysterious case of look-alike flowers living on opposite sides of an ocean, we will discuss the way researchers piece together evolutionary histories by using plant DNA and the knowledge of what plants look like today. Let’s build a scientific time machine and solve the mystery!

Authors

Riva Anne Bruenn / Valerie Lavenburg / Shayla Salzman
Reviewed by Krishna
Reviewed by Darius
Reviewed by Wyatt
Reviewed by Schuyler
Reviewed by Sybille
Reviewed by Paceyn
Read more

New Discovery

Why Time Slows Down during an Accident

After an accident people often report that its duration had been subjectively longer than it could have been in real time. Time seems to have slowed down. We tried to conduct a safe experiment in our laboratory that nevertheless comes a bit close to a dangerous situation. We had participants look at a screen in which circles either virtually moved on a collision course towards the viewer or where the circles moved away from the observer. At the same time we recorded brain activation with a brain scanner. When the circle moved towards the participant, the duration of that event was judged to last longer than when it moved away. This is the effect we wanted to produce: in a situation of "threat" duration seems to last longer. Recorded brain activation showed that an area in the mid-line part of the brain was especially activated, a region which has shown to be active when events have something personal to do with the viewer. In our case, a threatening stimulus approaching is the event that is related to the viewer. This is the first study to show which regions of the brain are associated with a subjective lengthening of time during a threatening situation.

Authors

Marc Wittmann / Virginie van Wassenhove
Reviewed by Trafalgar School for Girls
Read more

New Discovery

Using Bright Streams to Learn about Dark Matter

Ordinary matter such as atoms make up only about 15% of all the matter in the universe. The other 85% is “dark matter” that is invisible but important enough to hold our galaxy, the Milky Way, together so it doesn’t break apart. What is dark matter? For decades astronomers have been thinking of ideas and trying to test these ideas by observations. One popular theory called “cold dark matter” has been widely successful in explaining dark matter in the universe as a whole, but it still needs to be tested inside our own galaxy. In this study, we show how computer simulations can help us use streams of stars in the galaxy to determine whether cold dark matter is the correct theory for dark matter.

Authors

Wayne Ngan
Reviewed by Independent Elementary School
Read more

Core Concept

What Makes Your Dog Itch? Maybe It Is the Kennel Tick!

Once upon a time in a backyard not very far from you, a dog with long fluffy and shiny hair, named Rex, lived. He really loved to play outside, especially with his best friend and owner Jack, a nine-year-old boy. On a perfect spring day, it was not cold or hot, Jack and Rex went for a walk in a green park close by, and when they returned home Jack noticed that his loyal friend was very itchy and was scratching his ear a lot. His first thought was: “Well, there must be some dirt in his ear! After so much rolling on the grass it is normal …” A few days later Jack saw that Rex was very unhappy, and started wondering what was happening. He called his mother quickly and they both rushed to see Rex. “Mummy what´s that on Rex´s ear? It seems like warts!!! Is Rex sick?” Then his mother said: “Hopefully not! You know Jack, these little things are parasites called ticks and they can make Rex itch and feel uncomfortable. I am sure that if you know more about such small and incredible creatures, you will be amazed because there is more to them than meets the eye…

Authors

Joana Ferrolho / Gustavo S. Sanchesseron / Joana Couto / Sandra Antunes / Ana Domingos
Reviewed by Pittsburgh Gifted Center
Read more