Ants inspire mindless, cooperative robots

Teams of mindless robots can achieve complex tasks without communicating with each other, say robotics experts in Canada, who were inspired by ants’ behaviour. Armies of such cheap, expendable robots might one day help build a base on Mars — or simply mow your lawn.

Alaskan volcano stirs

Alaska’s Shishaldin volcano has experienced small explosions over the past few weeks, geologists say. The numbers of explosions have varied from several to more than 200 per day, but no steam or ash plumes have been observed by airborne and ground observers.

Earth: Warmer and wetter

Newly analyzed satellite data shows that Earth’s atmosphere has gotten warmer and wetter over the past 11 years, with the amount of water vapor increasing 2 percent.

Money Woes Jeopardize European Space Missions

Ministers who oversee the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) budget and programs on Wednesday extended a freeze on space science spending for another 4 years, despite warnings that such a move would imperil several of ESA’s ambitious plans for the next decade.

Proteins That Can Spare a Few Coppers

The self-starters of the cell, enzymes kick a host of crucial reactions into action. Now it turns out that some of them need a little help to get going. In this week’s Science, scientists report that an enzyme responsible for sopping up dangerous free radicals won’t work until small proteins deliver its catalytic copper ion. ...

A Helium Superfluid Wins Physics Prize

The 1996 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded today to David Lee and Robert Richardson of Cornell University and Douglas Osheroff of Stanford University for their discovery of an unusual liquid form of the isotope helium-3. The discovery opened up an unexplored world of microscopic interactions in the field of low-temperature physics.

Ancient Egypt’s Israeli Beachhead

Archaeologists have reported uncovering a 5000-year-old Egyptian-style tomb in southern Israel. The tomb, the first of its kind, offers fresh evidence that early Egyptian civilization had a foothold in ancient Palestine.

Far-Out Cosmic Walls

New findings suggest that galaxies form massive wall-like structures in the far reaches of the universe. In the 1 November issue of the Astrophysical Journal, Judith Cohen of the California Institute of Technology and colleagues at the University of Hawaii report evidence for what may be walls of galaxies as far as 8 billion light-years ...

South Africa Sets Sights on Biggest Southern Telescope

South African astronomers are making a pitch to build what would be the largest telescope in the Southern Hemisphere. Officials of the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) and a U.S. delegation of astronomers will meet with South African government officials in Pretoria later this week to try to persuade the government to ante up $10 ...

Telemedicine: Not Yet What the Doctor Ordered

WASHINGTON–A panel of medical and health-policy experts today released a report* urging developers of telemedicine to evaluate projects more rigorously and come up with ways to make the technology affordable in today’s climate of controlling medical costs.