Some scientists seem to take their cues from science fiction or fantasy novels.
Physicists in Texas have developed a method to make objects "invisible" within a limited range of light waves. It's not Harry Potter's invisibility cloak just yet, but scientists say it has a lot of potential.
The desire to become invisible dates back to the ancient Greeks, if not further. In mythological literature, gods and goddesses donned a headdress to disappear from sight. Like Potter's cloak, the "cap of invisibility" was imbued with magical powers.
A fixture in magic, the invisibility cloak has now advanced to science.
By Bryony Jones, CNN
DNA tests have confirmed that human remains found buried beneath an English car park are those of the country's King Richard III.
British scientists announced Monday they are convinced "beyond reasonable doubt" that a skeleton found during an archaeological dig in Leicester, central England, last August is that of the former king, who was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.
Mitochondrial DNA extracted from the bones was matched to Michael Ibsen, a Canadian cabinetmaker and direct descendant of Richard III's sister, Anne of York.
We all know the drill: Slip up on your regular brush-and-floss routine, and you may end up at the dentist's office with a cavity that needs to be filled. But what people did about their toothaches thousands of years ago?
Scientists in Italy have discovered what may be the earliest evidence of therapeutic dentistry performed on a human.
A study published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS One reports the discovery of a beeswax filling on the left canine of a 6,500-year-old human jawbone from Slovenia. It is housed at the Natural History Museum of Trieste, Italy.
John Noble may be best known as scientist Walter Bishop on "Fringe," but his interest in strange scientific stories extends into the real world.
The actor – recently back to work after seeking treatment for a sleeping disorder – delves into these stories on the Science Channel series, "Dark Matters: Twisted but True."
"It's kind of tongue in cheek or Orson Welles-ish," said Noble of the series. "Some of the (stories) are quirky or weird. We're telling stories from all over the place."
Noble's performance on "Fringe" informed his role as host.
"Playing Walter Bishop, I had to read pretty widely to make sense of what he was talking about," he said. "It seemed to segue very easily into this. It's probably the reason I'm hosting it, to be honest with you."
Despite his voracious thirst for knowledge, the show has sometimes presented him with things he was not aware of. "There were things I knew vaguely but hadn't put into place. There are so many curious, wonderful stories."
Now that he has one foot in science fiction and another in fact, how does he think the two relate today?
"It's very difficult for science fiction writers to stay ahead of science fact, because of the rate of change today," he said.
"People are dreaming up ideas, not unlike the times of Jules Verne. Now, sometimes by the time it's been published, something has happened to change the face of science fiction. Science fiction has proved to be a good indicator of where we're going. There is a blending with fantasy, which has sort of taken over. Fantasy is also a very valid and interesting area to explore."
Noble believes that we've only seen the tip of the iceberg for scientific advancement.
Noble spoke of a scientist friend who recently proposed a new theory on black holes. "He was so excited that this was a big breakthrough. This is happening all the time, and these things breed more and more invention. This is probably the most exciting time in science since – there was the Renaissance period, and the Industrial Revolution – I think this is the third, and I think, the most exciting period of science."
It's like molasses! But sort of like the air! Yet it also behaves like fans of Justin Bieber!
Everyone's talking about the Higgs boson, even though there's no really great metaphor for describing what it is and how it works. We know that this particle is responsible for the fact that matter - i.e. the stuff we are made of - has mass. Beyond that, physicists have to get creative.
Scientists from the European Organization of Nuclear Research (CERN) said yesterday that they had discovered a new particle with attributes of the Higgs boson, a particle that had never been detected, but needs to exist in order for current theories about the universe to remain true.
"It's an enormous celebration and everyone's incredibly excited to have found it, but this is by no means a gigantic surprise," said prominent theoretical physicist Nima Arkani-Hamed.
Profile: Colliding with the universe's best-kept secrets
Remember the character Jodie Foster played in the movie "Contact," based on the book by Carl Sagan? She wasn't entirely invented; her character's basis was astronomer Jill Tarter.
Tarter, 68, has spent more than three decades leading the search for intelligent non-Earthly life at the SETI Institute, a nonprofit organization that devotes itself to scientific research, education and outreach on the subject of life in the universe.
This week, Tarter announced her retirement from directing the research side of SETI; she will now focus on fundraising, she told CNN Light Years in a recent interview.
Quick: What's the fattiest system in your body that has two halves and weighs between 2 and 4 pounds?
It's your brain - you know, that thing that remembers stuff. But because of rapidly evolving information technology, your first impulse was probably to search for the answer on the Internet.
As we become ever more dependent on external sources of memory - using GPS to guide our driving, smartphones to keep our schedules - it's time to rethink our ideas about what "memory" actually is.
"Good. Hold," said great ape keeper Amanda Bania to the 200-pound gorilla Kojo as she held what looked like a computer mouse to his back.
The western lowland gorilla leaned his back against his cage at the National Zoo in Washington while being hand fed grapes by zookeeper Elliot Rosenthal.
“Kojo is pretty happy to hold as long as he’s getting grapes,“ said Bania. She then downloaded heart data from an Implantable Loop Recorder (ILR) that had been surgically placed between Kojo's shoulder blades to track his heart rates and rhythms.
While Kojo was chowing on fruit, he was also providing valuable data to help scientists solve a scientific mystery: why do gorillas have problems with their hearts?
Light Years strives to tell the stories of science research, discovery, space and education. This is your go-to place on CNN.com for today’s stories, but also for a scientific perspective on the news and everyday wonders. Come indulge your curiosity in all things space and science related, brought to you by the entire CNN family.
July 19thAtlas V launch of US DOD MUOS-2 satellite, notable for large "551" config of Atlas
Aug 3rdJapanese HTV-4 flight to ISS on cargo supply mission
Aug 14thSpaceX launch of Canadian satellite in the first launch from their new Vandenberg facility, and first launch of upgraded Falcon 9 v1.1 launch vehicle
Aug 28thDelta IV Heavy launch of NROL-65 spy satellite
SeptemberSoyuz TMA-08M flight returning Expedition 36 crew from ISS to Earth (Kazakhstan)
Sept 12thOrbital Sciences maiden flight of Cygnus cargo vehicle on Antares rocket to ISS
Sept 25thSoyuz TMA-10M flight launching Expedition 38 crew to ISS
Dec 9thSpaceX Dragon launch by Falcon 9 v1.1 on CRS-3 cargo supply mission to ISS
recurringfirst powered test flights of Scaled Composites' SpaceShipTwo commercial vehicle, to be used by Virgin Galactic for sub-orbital tourism