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Physical World

Beyond the twilight zone

Tidally locked worlds are places of extremes. On one side it’s an endless day, the other a perpetual night. Yet scientists speculate that some may harbor conditions that could support life.

An elemental problem with the sun

For two decades, astronomers have argued over how much carbon, nitrogen and especially oxygen lie within our closest star — a dispute with implications for the entire universe

The tides they are a-changin’ — and it’s not just from climate change

Dredging rivers, filling in wetlands and other human acts of engineering have shifted coastal ebbs and flows worldwide. Add rising sea levels, and the threat of storm surges and floods will worsen in some places.

Fighting fire with fire ... and fauna

Climate change is aggravating the seasonal burns that Australia has always known. They won’t be snuffed out, but new ecological strategies may help.

New projects broaden the search for alien signals from space

A longer list of Earth-like planets, eavesdropping on radio waves and looking for laser light shows: All raise the chances of detecting E.T.

When nuclear goes retro | Things to Know

VIDEO: Old becomes new as nuclear startups take another look at using liquid nuclear fuel as a safe alternative to conventional nuclear reactors

The tricky task of tallying carbon

To slow or stop global warming, the world agrees it must cut carbon dioxide emissions. But monitoring each nation’s output of greenhouse gases is not always straightforward.

The future that graphene built

Move over, flat carbon. Meet borophene, phosphorene and the rest of the next generation of “atomically thin” super-materials.

What are California megafires? | Things to Know

VIDEO: Megafires, which burn over 100,000 acres, can cause catastrophic damage. Researchers are studying fire behavior in the lab and in the field in order to fight these flames more effectively.

What are fire whirls? | Things to Know

VIDEO: Researchers examine the behavior of these tornado-like fire columns

Fast facts about the Milky Way | Things to Know

VIDEO: Our galaxy may seem humble, but here are a few things to know about what makes it an exceptional place

GPS is going places

Here are five things you didn’t know the navigation system could do

Lessons from scorching hot weirdo-planets

Hot Jupiters were the first kind of exoplanet found. A quarter-century later, they still perplex and captivate — and their origins hold lessons about planet formation in general.

Hotter than the sun: The mysterious solar corona

Several new missions aim squarely at a long-standing astronomical conundrum, with the promise of improving space-weather predictions

The next omics? Tracking a lifetime of exposures to better understand disease

Of the millions of substances people encounter daily, health researchers have focused on only a few hundred. Those in the emerging field of exposomics want to change that.