Don't let his pudgy appearance fool you — the San Diego Zoo's panda cub Xiao Liwu is getting buff, according to his vets. The baby bear apparently has been slimming down and gaining muscle in his legs from climbing around his new exhibit on view to the public.
The six-month-old cub weighed in at 19.4 pounds (8.8 kilograms) and measured 24.6 inches long (88 centimeters) during his checkup this week, according to the zoo. Though the baby bear has been tumbling around in the more rugged habitat, where he made his debut last month, zookeepers said he has no sprains or injuries from falling.
[Full Story: Panda Cub Gets Buff]
Failed stars can emit detectable radio waves at much cooler temperatures than previously expected, according to new research.
The discovery could help astronomers understand how these so-called "brown dwarfs" generate a magnetic field. Some scientists think a faster rotation makes the magnetic field stronger.
[Full Story: Faint Radio Signals Reveal Secrets of Failed Stars]
The rock pigeon's funky hairdos have been pinned to a single gene mutation that signals head and neck feathers to grow up rather than down in a tamer fashion, report researchers who have just decoded the bird's genome.
"A head crest is a series of feathers on the back of the head and neck that point up instead of down," study researcher Michael Shapiro said in a statement. "Some are small and pointed. Others look like a shell behind the head; some people think they look like mullets. They can be as extreme as an Elizabethan collar."
[Full Story: How Rock Pigeons Got Their Mullets]
From a surrealist view of a sea urchin's tooth to a trippy clamshell, the world's most stunning science images of the year have been released.
The natural world is filled with gorgeous creatures, strange processes and mysterious structures hidden to the naked eye. The winners of the 2012 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge, announced today (Jan. 31), make that beauty visible in stunning imagery revealed in photographs, interactive videos, simulations and even computer games.
[Full Story: Sea Urchin Teeth & Trippy Clamshell Snag Science Visualization Awards]
Biomineral crystals found in a sea urchin tooth. Geologic or synthetic mineral crystals usually have flat faces and sharp edges, whereas biomineral crystals can have strikingly uncommon forms that have evolved to enhance function. The image here was captured using environmental scanning electron microscopy and false-colored. Each color highlights a continuous singlecrystal of calcite (CaCO3) made by the sea urchin Arbacia punctulata, at the forming end of one of its teeth. Together, these biomineral crystals fill space, harden the tooth, and toughen it enough to grind rock.
The winners of the Science Visualization Contest are detailed in the story described in the previous "Trippy Clamshell" slide.
[See More Images: Gallery: Trippy Photos Reveal Beauty in Science Awards]
Mathematical equations aren't just useful — many are quite beautiful. And many scientists admit they are often fond of particular formulas not just for their function, but for their form, and the simple, poetic truths they contain.
While certain famous equations, such as Albert Einstein's E = mc^2, hog most of the public glory, many less familiar formulas have their champions among scientists. LiveScience asked physicists, astronomers and mathematicians for their favorite equations.
[Full Story: The 11 Most Beautiful Mathematical Equations]
Unusually frigid and snowy conditions blanketed much of the island of Great Britain in snow earlier this month. The winter wonderland was spotted from above by NASA's Terra satellite on Jan. 26.
The snow started falling mid-month when a storm system blowing in from over the North Atlantic combined with unusually chilly conditions ushered in by a pattern called the Scandinavian Block, according to Accuweather.com. This high-pressure pattern sits in place over Scandinavia and funnels cold air toward the United Kingdom from over the Baltic and western Russia, according to the U.K. Met Office.
[Full Story: Britain Blanketed by Snow in New Satellite Image]
NASA will launch a rocket tonight (Jan. 29) on a mission that promises to put on a spectacular, albeit brief, light show over the U.S. East Coast that may be visible to stargazers along the Atlantic Seaboard, weather permitting.
[Full Story: NASA Rocket to Spark Light Show Over US East Coast Tonight]
The seasonal thawing of carbon dioxide ice near Mars' north pole carves grooves in the region's sand dunes, three new studies reveal.
The discovery, made using observations from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft (MRO), reinforces that the Red Planet's surface continues to be transformed today, even though Mars' volcanoes have died out and its liquid surface water apparently dried up long ago.
[Full Story: On Mars, Dry Ice 'Smoke' Carves Up Sand Dunes]
U.S. scientists successfully drilled into Lake Whillans, a subglacial expanse of water hidden deep beneath the Antarctic ice sheet, they reported on Sunday (Jan. 27).
About a month ago, a similar British attempt to reach subglacial Lake Ellsworth had failed. Drilling operations for the WISSARD project (Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling), which is funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs, started on Jan. 21.
[Full Story: Pay Dirt! Antarctic Drilling Reaches Lake Surface]