If you're suffering withdrawal symptoms from the National Zoo's "pandacams" â€” sadly deemed "nonessential" and therefore shut down, along with much of the rest of the government â€” we have the perfect antidote:
Scientists are reasonably sure that it's a cloudy day on Kepler-7b, a planet that orbits its star about 1,000 light-years away from us.
Using NASA's orbiting space telescopes, researchers publishing in Astrophysical Journal Letters say that for the first time they've been able to make a rudimentary map of the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet.
The team used faint visible light and infrared reflections from Kepler-7b to make their cloud map.
Scientists think they've identified the source of a massive volcanic eruption that occurred in A.D. 1257 and spread telltale traces across the globe.
The culprit in the "mystery eruption" appears to be the Samalas volcano, part of the Mount Rinjani Volcanic Complex on Indonesia's Lombok Island, an international team of scientists publishing in PNAS journal says.
With the government on the brink of a shutdown, Republicans and Democrats in Congress have come together to compromise on helium. Legislation passed late last week will keep the gas used in party balloons flowing from a national reserve.
The helium bill's passage shows that compromise is still possible in the fractious political climate. But finding agreement over this inert gas was tough. The new law came after more than a year of intensive lobbying by some of America's largest businesses and academic institutions.
If you got sick, you probably wouldn't go to an evolutionary biologist to get treated. But Daniel Lieberman, professor of evolutionary biology at Harvard University, says that his field can help you understand why you got sick, and make you more aware of healthy and harmful behaviors.