Science

Astronomers confirm fundamental relationship in atomic physics

By Will Morrow, 4 January 2013

A team of astronomers has determined that the ratio of the mass of the proton to the mass of the electron has been stable for at least seven billion years.

Stone tools and the evolution of modern human cognition

By Philip Guelpa, 18 December 2012

A newly reported microlithic technology from a site in South Africa helps close the apparent temporal gap between the biological evolution of modern humans and the archaeological evidence of fully modern cognitive abilities.

The growing impact and dangers of global warming

By Bryan Dyne, 27 November 2012

The impact of climate change on all aspects of life has been more concretely analyzed in reports issued over the past decade.

The future study of hurricanes at risk

By Bryan Dyne, 6 November 2012

The end of the current generation of environmental satellites will likely produce a gap lasting up to four years, in which crucial data used in predicting the intensity of hurricanes will not be collected.

Earth-mass planet found orbiting the nearest star

By Bryan Dyne, 24 October 2012

A planet with similar mass to the Earth has been found orbiting α Centauri B, our closest interstellar neighbor.

Voyager spacecraft approaching interstellar space—35 years after launch

By Bryan Dyne, 28 September 2012

Voyager 1 and 2 have flown through the Solar System for 35 years and now Voyager 1 is on the verge of becoming humanity’s first interstellar spacecraft.

New fossils support a multiple-species view of early human evolution

By Philip Guelpa, 31 August 2012

Newly reported fossils from East Africa indicate multiple branches in early human evolution.

The Mars landing

By Patrick Martin, 10 August 2012

Despite efforts to portray it as a triumph for “American values,” the successful landing of the Curiosity rover was the product of collective social effort and scientific planning that is the antithesis of profit-mad individualism.

Curiosity rover lands on Mars: A milestone of space exploration

By Bryan Dyne, 7 August 2012

Curiosity, NASA’s latest Mars rover, has successfully landed on target at Gale crater.

Melting of Greenland ice shelf likely caused by global warming

By Bryan Dyne, 2 August 2012

The sudden melting of the Greenland ice shelf is an indicator that global warming is beginning to have a very widespread impact on human life.

Did Neanderthals create cave art?

By Philip Guelpa, 10 July 2012

It is possible that simple representations such as disks and negative hand prints, which new dating indicates were the earliest forms of cave art, were, in fact, originated by Neanderthals.

CERN discovers new fundamental particle

By Bryan Dyne, 5 July 2012

Results jointly released from the Large Hadron Collider have confirmed the existence of a new fundamental particle, which has the high possibility of being the long sought after Higgs boson.

The 2012 transit of Venus

By Don Barrett, 5 June 2012

The Sun, the planet Venus and the Earth will line up so that Venus appears to pass across the disk of the Sun.

New search for life among Jupiter’s ice moons

By Aidan Claire, 17 May 2012

The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced a €1.1 billion unmanned mission to the ice moons of the planet Jupiter.

Extreme weather forebodes point-of-no-return for climate change

By Nicholas Russo, 20 April 2012

An unusual heat wave east of the Rocky Mountains has made March 2012 the warmest March on record for the contiguous United States.

Large Hadron Collider upgrade aids exploration of the origin of mass

By Bryan Dyne, 13 April 2012

What makes things heavy? How does the origin of mass connect with other physical theories? The Large Hadron Collider was built in Switzerland to experimentally test theoretical work that suggests an answer to these questions.

Obama’s 2013 budget to increase corporate influence over public research

By Nicholas Russo, 25 February 2012

Reprioritization of funding in the proposed budget, together with statements by Obama, indicates a decisive shift toward further subordination of public research to corporate interests.

A further reply on Thomas Kuhn

By William Whitlow, 17 February 2012

The following contribution from William Whitlow extends a discussion that began with his article last fall, Thomas S. Kuhn, post-modernism and materialist dialectics, and continued with a response by Philip Guelpa, A friendly response to William Whitlow’s comments on Thomas Kuhn.

Bird flu scientists respond to media hysteria, suspend critical research

By Nicholas Russo, 10 February 2012

The investigators discovered how a mutation of the deadly virus could lead to its airborne transmission between human beings.

Galapagos tortoise species, thought to be extinct, has survived

By Patrick Martin, 3 February 2012

A team of biologists from Yale University has found evidence that a species of Galapagos tortoise, believed extinct for more than a century, has survived in one of the remote parts of the Galapagos island chain.

A friendly response to William Whitlow’s comments on Thomas Kuhn

By Philip Guelpa, 30 January 2012

This commentary is written as a supplement to the WSWS article “Thomas S. Kuhn, post-modernism and materialist dialectics,” by William Whitlow.

Tantalizing evidence of the Higgs boson

By Bryan Dyne, 29 December 2011

Physicists are close to confirming detection of the last undiscovered particle predicted by the “Standard Model” of particle physics.

New research may show that Neanderthals did not go extinct

By Philip Guelpa, 27 December 2011

DNA derived from the Neanderthals has been found in many human populations around the globe

Exciting and engaging: Richard Dawkins’ The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True

By Christine Schofelt, 12 November 2011

In his latest book, written for young people, evolutionary biologist and author Richard Dawkins shows how—and why—to fall in love with reality.

Tentative evidence of particles travelling faster than light

By Margaret Bourne, 4 November 2011

Initial results from a group of scientists appear to indicate that neutrinos travel at a velocity greater than the speed of light.

Thomas S. Kuhn, post-modernism and materialist dialectics

By William Whitlow, 28 October 2011

William Whitlow replies to a reader’s inquiry about sociologist Thomas S. Kuhn, author of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

New hominin fossil finds in South Africa may fill a gap in the record of human evolution

By Philip Guelpa, 23 September 2011

A newly reported fossil discovery from the Malapa, South Africa may provide greater insight into the evolution of the genus Homo from our australopithecine ancestors. The fossils consist of remains of two individuals, an adult female and juvenile male, possibly a mother and son.

Mass Viking grave identified in southern England

By Joan Smith, 16 September 2011

Archaeologists have discovered a mass grave of decapitated Vikings on the southern coast of England dating from AD 910-AD1034. Scientists think they may have been caught and killed by locals.

CERN experiment weighs antimatter to unprecedented precision

By Bryan Dyne, 26 August 2011

The research provides further confirmation of quantum mechanics.

The end of the US space shuttle program

By Patrick Martin, 19 August 2011

The American manned space program is shutting down indefinitely, an event that has considerable historical significance.

A further advance in quantum computing

By Bryan Dyne, 12 August 2011

A team led by Susumu Takahashi has pioneered a new step forward toward the development of a fully functional quantum computer.

Herschel telescope discovered twisted ring of gas and dust at the centre of our galaxy

By William Whitlow, 5 August 2011

The Herschel Space Observatory has identified a twisted ring of dust and gas at the centre of the Milky Way galaxy. Parts of the ring have been seen before but this is the first time it has been observed as a whole.

Dawn spacecraft reaches the asteroid Vesta

By Patrick Martin, 20 July 2011

The NASA mission will study the two largest asteroids, first Vesta, then Ceres.

James Watt and Our World, an exhibition at the Science Museum, London

By William Whitlow, 23 June 2011

Anyone with an hour or two to spare in London over the next year will be rewarded by a visit to the James Watt exhibition at the Science Museum.[1] As befits an exhibition relating to this genius whose inventions were at the core of the Industrial Revolution, there are several steam engines on display, including the massive “Old Bess,” the second steam engine built by James Watt and his partner Matthew Boulton in their Birmingham “Manufactory,” in 1777.

New research sheds light on cognitive abilities of animals

By Frances Gaertner, 10 June 2011

Recent research has begun to investigate the cognitive abilities of animals and is helping to identify the evolutionary developments made by human beings that began to distinguish them from apes.

Extra-solar planet could sustain Earth-like life

By Bryan Dyne, 6 June 2011

The planet Gliese 581 d is believed to be twice the mass of Earth, and could sustain liquid water on the side that faces its star.

Scientists see increasing floods with changing climate

By Dan Brennan, 23 May 2011

Climate change is responsible for increasingly extreme weather events.

Einstein’s theory of gravity confirmed by NASA probe

By William Whitlow, 13 May 2011

NASA has just announced that Einstein’s theory of gravity has been verified with astonishing accuracy by its Gravity Probe-B.

Scientists find evidence of cannibalism in Palaeolithic Britain

By Joan Smith, 29 April 2011

The alternation of glacial and warmer periods conditioned the prehistory of what is now Britain.

US budget cuts threaten scientific research

By Nicholas Russo, 22 April 2011

Great international scientific advances are being undermined by cuts in funding.

Fifty years since the first manned spaceflight

By Patrick Martin, 16 April 2011

Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in orbit around the Earth, on April 12, 1961.

First spacecraft begins orbiting the planet Mercury

By Patrick Martin, 25 March 2011

MESSENGER is the first space mission to Mercury in more than three decades.

Large Hadron Collider will continue experiments into 2012

By Bryan Dyne and Don Barrett, 18 March 2011

The physics research conducted in 2010 has allowed for the Large Hadron Collider to extend its operations through 2011 and 2012.

Planet formation viewed by astronomers

By Chris Talbot, 11 March 2011

Astronomical observation directly confirms the nebular hypothesis of Kant and Laplace.

Fossil discovery confirms “Lucy” walked upright

By Chris Talbot, 25 February 2011

A new 3.2 million-year-old fossil discovery at Hadar, Ethiopia shows that Australopithecus afarensis, an ancestor of modern humans, had arched feet and was “committed” to walking upright.

Stardust spacecraft gives second glimpse of comet Tempel 1

By a reporter, 18 February 2011

The fly-by took place on February 14, some 210 million miles from Earth

Amazon drought highlights impact of global warming

By Chris Talbot, 11 February 2011

Rain forest and the Arctic ice cap are being affected by rising temperatures.

Smallest rocky planet outside our solar system discovered

By Chris Talbot, 28 January 2011

NASA has confirmed this month that its Kepler space observatory has now identified the smallest yet planet outside our solar system, exoplanet Kepler-10b.

Evidence of intensifying climate change grows

By Dan Brennan, 26 January 2011

Global surface temperatures for 2010 matched record highs, with the past decade the hottest ever recorded.

Mars rovers mark seven years on the planet’s surface

By Patrick Martin, 22 January 2011

The two robot exploration vehicles have revolutionized scientific understanding of the planet.

The Denisova discovery: Ancient genomics shed new light on human origins

By Thomas H. Douglass, 17 January 2011

An international team of scientists made headlines last year when they used genetic evidence to show that an ancient people, once living in the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia, were distant cousins of the Neanderthals and contributed to the modern human genome before their extinction.

Recent developments bring quantum computers closer to implementation

By Bryan Dyne, 8 January 2011

Fundamental advances in recent research have led to the ability to more directly manipulate the building blocks of quantum computers.

The Artificial Ape: How humans invented themselves

By Philip Guelpa, 3 January 2011

The new book by Timothy Taylor proposes that a technological invention was critical to the biological evolution of modern humans.

The first spintronic transistor

By Chris Talbot, 31 December 2010

For the first time now, researchers have developed a new type of transistor―running at normal temperatures―that utilises a feature of electrons known as spin, rather than charge.

New species of lemur discovered in Madagascar

By Frances Gaertner, 24 December 2010

What is thought to be a new species of fork-marked lemur has been discovered in the forests of Madagascar.

Bacteria that consumes arsenic boosts search for “alien” life

By Chris Talbot, 10 December 2010

The new bacteria was discovered by a research team at Mono Lake, California.

Brain more complex than previously thought, research reveals

By Chris Talbot, 3 December 2010

Major advances have recently been made that have considerably advanced our understanding of the brain at the level of its cellular structure.

Experiment at CERN traps antimatter atoms

By Bryan Dyne, 27 November 2010

For the first time ever, physicists at CERN have captured antimatter for a long enough time for its properties to be studied.

Struggling California condor population suggests persistence of DDT

By Frances Gaertner and Kristina Betinis, 23 November 2010

Recent reports of a struggling California condor population indicate the persistence of DDT contamination, threatening animal life and human health.

Gamma-ray bubbles discovered around our galaxy

By Chris Talbot, 18 November 2010

A giant structure around our Milky Way galaxy has been discovered by the NASA Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.

LHC particle accelerator begins lead ion collisions

By Bryan Dyne and Don Barrett, 13 November 2010

The week, scientists operating the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva shut down its proton-proton collisions to begin colliding lead nuclei.

Fractal visionary dies: Benoit Mandelbrot, 1924-2010

By Chris Talbot, 4 November 2010

Benoit Mandelbrot coined the word fractal in 1975 to describe the revolutionary approach to geometrical mathematics that he pioneered.

Nobel Prize physicists protest British immigration restrictions on scientists

By Chris Talbot, 20 October 2010

Russian-born physicists Konstantin Novoselov and Andre Geim, now based at the University of Manchester, joined six other Nobel Prize winners in opposing the cap on immigrants into Britain from outside the European Union.

Scientist awarded Nobel Prize for developing IVF treatment

By Chris Talbot, 13 October 2010

Robert Edwards has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in recognition of his pioneering work in the technique of in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Scientists directly image an extra-solar planet’s orbit around a young star

By Bryan Dyne, 19 July 2010

For the first time in the history of the search for planets outside the solar system, astronomers have observed a planet going from one side of its parent star to the other.

Large Hadron Collider accelerates particles to record energy level

By Bryan Dyne and Don Barrett, 10 May 2010

Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider announced March 30 that the LHC had collided particles to 7 trillion electron-volts, the highest energy ever achieved in such a device.

“Strange Fruit” by Kenan Malik: A polemic against racism and identity politics

By Nancy Hanover, 8 May 2010

Kenan Malik has situated himself in the crosshairs of the dispute over the nature of race, arguing from the standpoint of Enlightenment rationalism and scientific objectivity.

Australia: Sacked workers rally over unpaid entitlements

By Margaret Rees, 3 May 2010

Sacked metalworkers owed unpaid superannuation, leave and other entitlements demonstrated last Friday in Melbourne.

Solar Dynamics Observatory―an eye on the Sun

By Bryan Dyne, 13 March 2010

One month after its successful launch, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory has begun capturing high-resolution images of solar phenomena at 10-second intervals.

Large Hadron Collider to resume operations at CERN

By Bryan Dyne, 22 February 2010

Operations resumed this month at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the huge new experimental device operated by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland. The largest and costliest apparatus ever built to conduct physical research, the LHC was shut down for repairs for a year after an accident.

Spacecraft Kepler discovers five extrasolar planets

By Bryan Dyne, 2 February 2010

NASA reported last month that Kepler, the first spacecraft dedicated to searching for planets beyond our solar system, has discovered its first five extrasolar planets. Though they are uninhabitable for Earth-like life—four of the five are even larger than Jupiter—their rapid discovery indicates that Kepler is fully capable of achieving its primary mission, finding a planet resembling Earth, in future years.

What does particle physics tell us about the nature of matter?

By Chris Talbot, 20 January 2010

Frank Wilczek’s book can be recommended as an attempt to explain to a lay person the implications of more than 50 years of particle physics. Wilczek is a Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist.

Marxism, socialism and climate change

By Nick Beams, 22 December 2009

The problems of climate change are so profound and far-reaching that they require the rational mobilisation of all available economic, material, scientific and technical resources, something that is only possible only under socialism.

Climate change, emissions trading schemes and the profit system

By Patrick O’Connor, 21 December 2009

Public meetings called by the WSWS and the Socialist Equality Party (Australia) in Sydney and Melbourne last week exposed the real agenda behind emissions trading schemes and the official climate change “debate”. The following is the report delivered by WSWS writer Patrick O’Connor.

Australian SEP meetings discuss socialism, climate change and emissions trading schemes

By our reporters, 19 December 2009

Public meetings in Sydney and Melbourne this week exposed the real agenda behind emissions trading schemes and the official climate change “debate”.

Moon experiment shows presence of water

By Patrick Martin, 17 November 2009

The deliberate crashing of a US rocket into the surface of the Moon has produced evidence of “a significant amount” of water ice, a discovery that could revolutionize the exploration of the Earth’s satellite and even open the way to long-term settlement.

New fossils provide insights into early human evolution

By William Moore, 20 October 2009

After 15 years of painstaking study, the journal Science has published a series of articles on the fossilized remains of Ardipithecus ramidus, which is interpreted to be an early form of hominin, the group including humans and all human ancestors back to the evolutionary split with the last common ancestor with chimpanzees.

Severe dust storm hits Australian coastal cities

By Alex Safari, 29 September 2009

A huge dust storm blanketed large areas of Australia’s southeastern coast last Wednesday, covering cities and towns in the states of New South Wales and Queensland, before moving out to sea towards New Zealand.

Newly repaired Hubble telescope releases first images

By Bryan Dyne, 23 September 2009

The first images from the repaired and upgraded telescope include a dazzling combination of planetary nebula, star clusters and galaxies.

Four hundred years since Galileo’s astronomical discoveries

By Hector Cordon, 15 August 2009

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 has been designated by the International Astronomy Union and UNESCO in honor of the 400th anniversary of the discoveries of Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler, two of the most important pioneers of modern astronomy.

Swine flu infections spread to 160 countries

By Perla Astudillo, 13 August 2009

According to the World Health Organisation, the swine-origin influenza virus has spread to 160 countries in less than four months.

The Google Book Search copyright settlement and the future of information—Part 2

By K. Reed, 13 August 2009

The second of a two-part article on the Google Book Search settlement.

The Google Book Search copyright settlement and the future of information—Part 1

By K. Reed, 12 August 2009

The first of a two-part article on the Google Book Search settlement.

Subordinating science to religion

Obama names evangelical Christian to run National Institutes of Health

By Patrick Martin, 30 July 2009

In selecting Francis S. Collins as the director of the National Institutes of Health, President Obama has sent a clear political message that he is willing to subordinate scientific research to Christian fundamentalist dogma.

Hubble Space Telescope receives final upgrade

By Bryan Dyne, 23 June 2009

New instruments on the Hubble Space Telescope are currently undergoing calibration following the latest upgrade to the venerable scientific instrument.

Marx and Darwin: Two great revolutionary thinkers of the nineteenth century

Part 3

By Chris Talbot, 19 June 2009

Marx and Engels immediately recognised the significance of Darwin’s theory when On the Origin of Species appeared 150 years ago, laying out a scientific conception of the process of historical evolution of the biological world.

Marx and Darwin: Two great revolutionary thinkers of the nineteenth century

Part 2

By Chris Talbot, 18 June 2009

Marx and Engels immediately recognised the significance of Darwin’s theory when On the Origin of Species appeared 150 years ago, laying out a scientific conception of the process of historical evolution of the biological world.

Marx and Darwin: Two great revolutionary thinkers of the nineteenth century

Part 1

By Chris Talbot, 17 June 2009

Marx and Engels immediately recognised the significance of Darwin’s theory when On the Origin of Species appeared 150 years ago, laying out a scientific conception of the process of historical evolution of the biological world.

The primate fossil “Ida”: the science and the hype

By William Moore, 13 June 2009

While the recently announced discovery of “Ida,” a remarkably well-preserved early primate fossil, promises insights into the evolution of later primate forms, including humans, the way it has been presented to the public distorts both its significance and the processes of biological evolution.

Walking, running, and human evolution

New insights derived from the hobbits of Flores

By William Moore, 13 May 2009

Recent research results suggest Flores hobbits are more distinctive than previously thought, providing new insights into human evolution.

Danger of major swine flu outbreak continues

By Perla Astudillo, 12 May 2009

The current swine flu virus may not mutate into a more dangerous form and the danger will then subside. Scientists, however, remain concerned that the virus is poorly understood and may be susceptible to mutation.

New space telescope to search for earth-sized planets

By Bryan Dyne, 24 March 2009

On March 6, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration successfully launched the Kepler mission, which will observe 100,000 stars in search of smaller, Earth-sized planets.

File-sharing trial against The Pirate Bay has wide-ranging implications

By Mike Ingram, 20 February 2009

What the Times of London described as the “internet piracy trial of the decade” is under way in a courtroom in Stockholm, Sweden, with protesters with megaphones camped outside the building. The trial of file-sharing site thepiratebay.org for copyright infringement is being followed by legal and technology experts all over the world.

“Hobbits” of Flores: Implications for the pattern of human evolution

By William Moore, 16 February 2009

Recent developments in research regarding the so-called “hobbits” of Flores, Indonesia, may lend support to the multilineal or “branching” view of human evolution.

In honor of the bicentenary of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin

12 February 2009

It is among the most remarkable coincidences of history that Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born on the same date, February 12, 1809. Lincoln, as the 16th president of the United States, made an immense contribution to the political liberation of mankind. Darwin, in the sphere of science, contributed mightily to its intellectual liberation. Today the World Socialist Web Site pays tribute to the memory of these two very great men.

Behind Apple’s decision to drop anti-copying measures in iTunes

By Mike Ingram, 19 January 2009

Apple’s decision to drop the anti-copying protection known as Digital Rights Management (DRM) has received a mixed response from consumers and music fans across the world.

First images taken of extrasolar planets

By Hector Cordon, 1 December 2008

In a breakthrough expected to foster further discoveries, two teams of astronomers have for the first time directly imaged planets orbiting stars outside the solar system.

Australian biotechnology company enforces cancer gene patent, restricting medical scanning

By Frank Gaglioti, 28 November 2008

Biotechnology firm Genetic Technologies has moved to enforce its patent over two critical genes implicated in the development of breast and ovarian cancer, shutting down genetic scanning on potential cancer victims in publicly funded facilities.

Letters on “The Frankfurt School vs. Marxism”

8 November 2008

The WSWS received the following letters on “The Frankfurt School vs. Marxism: The Political and Intellectual Odyssey of Alex Steiner” and “Marxism and Science: An addendum to ‘The Frankfurt School vs. Marxism’”

Behind the creationism controversy at Britain's Royal Society

By Paul Mitchell, 17 October 2008

The Royal Society’s education director was forced last month to resign, for at the very least seeming to advocate the teaching of creationism alongside evolution in school science classes.