Science

Science news

Updated at 7:10 p.m. ET

SpaceX has launched NASA's planet-hunting satellite TESS into outer space Wednesday evening from Cape Canaveral.

Tess — short for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite — will spend two years searching for planets near bright, nearby stars. The satellite was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Gene therapy is showing promise for treating one of the most common genetic disorders.

Results of a study published Wednesday show that 15 of 22 patients with beta-thalassemia who got gene therapy were able to stop or sharply reduce the regular blood transfusions they had needed to alleviate their life-threatening anemia. There were no serious side effects.

The Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia has seen two massive bleaching events over the span of two years. And that's led to a widespread die-off of the corals, according to a new study.

The words "dog" and "fog" sound pretty similar. Yet even a preschooler knows whether you're talking about a puppy or the weather.

Now scientists at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., have identified a two-step process that helps our brains learn to first recognize, then categorize new sounds even when the differences are subtle.

Each night, all over the ocean, swarms of animals wriggle and kick their way from deep below the waves to feed at the surface. Each creature is tiny — less than a centimeter long, and sometimes much smaller — and there are trillions of them.

New research suggests this nightly migration might be helping mix the ocean on a grand scale, sending columns of water down as the animals swim up. It's a radical idea, and one that is just starting to take hold among scientists who study the oceans and who have long assumed that wind and waves, not animals, are the drivers of ocean-mixing.

Predicting how climate change will alter the weather is becoming a flourishing business.

The consumers are property owners and businesses that fear a rise in extreme weather — hurricanes, floods or heat waves, for example. Last year set a record for U.S. losses at over $300 billion.

This was years in the making: An adorable, critically endangered male lowland gorilla has been born at Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. Zoo staff have named him Moke [Mo-KEY], a name that means "little one."

Your body needs oxygen to function — and that was true even before you were born. As you grew inside your mother's womb, even before you had working lungs, your cells were crying out for oxygen. And your mother kindly answered that call. Oxygen and nutrients from her blood made their way down your umbilical cord, through your belly button, and fueled your body.

The Environmental Protection Agency has removed a toxic waste site flooded by Hurricane Harvey from a special list of contaminated sites that require the personal attention of the agency's leader, because it says there's been significant progress on a cleanup plan.

Where might you find a city that uses only renewable energy?

Try Georgetown, Texas — a red town in a red state that’s going green.

Georgetown’s power company is owned by the city. And that allowed Mayor Dale Ross, who is described as “something of a libertarian at heart,” to make the move away from fossil fuels.

As Smithsonian Magazine reports:

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