July 15th, 2011
01:50 PM ET

Survival of the Elements

"This close-up image shows the 'Materials on International Space Station Experiment-8.' Taken during the spacewalk on July 12, 2011, the small circles pictured are test beds for materials and computing elements attached to the outside of the International Space Station. These elements are being evaluated for the effects of atomic oxygen, ultraviolet, direct sunlight, radiation, and the extremes of heat and cold. Researchers hope the results will provide a better understanding of the durability of various materials and computing elements when they are exposed to the rigors of space environments and hope to incorporate what is learned into the design of future spacecraft."

Source: NASA

Filed under: Light up the screen
New study challenges supermassive black hole theory
This image shows a supermassive black hole as seen through the X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission (XMM-Newton) satellite.
July 15th, 2011
11:13 AM ET

New study challenges supermassive black hole theory

A new study based on data from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton X-ray space observatory is helping scientists revise their theory about the activation of supermassive black holes. Turns out, supermassive black holes may not start spewing intense radiation as a result of a merger between two galaxies, which is the current thought.

Most galaxies, if not all, have at their centers a supermassive black hole. Such black holes have a mass at least millions of times greater than the mass of our sun.


Read more about the new study
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Filed under: Discoveries • In Space
'Big Bang Theory' actress Mayim Bialik a real-life scientist
July 15th, 2011
10:40 AM ET

'Big Bang Theory' actress Mayim Bialik a real-life scientist

You may remember her as the title character from NBC's "Blossom," or recognize her as brainy Amy Farrah Fowler on the CBS hit comedy "The Big Bang Theory."

Mayim Bialik has made a name for herself in the entertainment business, but she's also had a lesser-known career in a similar field as her "Big Bang Theory" character: neuroscience.

Bialik, 35, who will attend her first San Diego Comic-Con next week, studied neuroscience at the University of California, Los Angeles. She's also written a book about parenting based on the science of hormones involved in parent-child bonding, to be released by Simon & Schuster in 2012.


Filed under: Science Education
July 15th, 2011
10:00 AM ET


Every Friday, @CNNLightYears will suggest interesting and exciting space and science Twitter accounts to follow.

Today, @CNNLightYears is giving a #FollowFriday to the crew of STS-135 (#STS135), the final mission of space shuttle Atlantis. This four-member crew blasted off on July 8 for what will now be a 13-day mission to deliver supplies to the International Space Station.

Commander Christopher Ferguson has shared some photos from before the launch, as well as replied to some space enthusiasts.

Pilot Douglas Hurley has only posted a few tweets so far, but is relatively new to Twitter.

Mission Specialist 1 Sandy Magnus is pretty active on Twitter. She replies to a lot of tweets, as well as shares what is going on at NASA.

Mission Specialist 2 Rex J. Walheim sent out many tweets about the preparation for mission STS-135, including that it was an “emotional day” and “very tough” as they finished the last space shuttle simulation before the final launch.

@Astro_Ron, who is on board the International Space Station. While not a member of Atlantis' crew, Ron Garan has been actively tweeting and posting photos of STS-135 and his own crew.

You can also follow updates from @CNNLightYears.

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Filed under: FollowFriday • Voices
Powerful baboon males stressed out
July 15th, 2011
09:04 AM ET

Powerful baboon males stressed out

It's not easy being at the top. In the savannah baboon world, it seems that alpha males - those who have the highest status - are also stressed out, according to a new study in the journal Science.

And, stress can lead to negative health outcomes in primates, including humans, prior research has shown.

Among these baboons, alpha males have preferential access to food resources and to mates. If there's one fertile female in a group, the alpha male will mate with her.


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Filed under: On Earth


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