Articles from Discover Physics & Math

Exploding Sea Cucumber Butt Threads Are a New Material

Whoever named the sea cucumber after a vegetable didn't give it enough credit. Yes, sea cucumbers are soft, warty tubes that scoot eyelessly along the seafloor. But they aren't helpless. Some secrete a poison that's deadly to other animals. And some, when threatened, shoot sticky threads out of their anuses to tangle up predators. When researchers collected these bizarre weapons and tested them in the lab, they discovered a material that's unique among sea creatures.

The threads that sea

The Heroes of Science

Here's to the household names and forgotten figures who accomplished incredible feats of knowledge — no capes required.

The Unsung Heroes of Science

Some scientists never got the praise they deserved. Here's to the ones history passed over.

The Names Behind the Units of Measure

You know the units, but do you recognize the scientists responsible for them?

Engineers Show Off Their Creative Side

Researchers show off another side of their work in the 2017 Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council photo competition.

Caterpillars Recruit Friends with Anal Scraping

Newly hatched caterpillars look helpless: they're teensy, soft and juicy, with no parent around for protection. But certain young insects, the masked birch caterpillars, are more capable than they seem. They gather in groups to keep themselves safe. To form those groups, they use a previously undiscovered language of buzzes, vibrations, head banging and butt scraping.

The species, Drepana arcuata, passes through five caterpillar life stages (called instars) on its way to becoming a li

Walking With Venus' Wind

The hellishly hot planet fries spacecraft electronics, so NASA scientists devised a machine inspired by ancient technology.

Building Blocks

Talking bats, a camera-shy black hole and asteroid hype.

Stars Explode in Earthly Skies

A look at some of the supernovas witnessed by earthlings.

What to Read in April

Dead times, big bangs, inkblots and more.