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Stories by Lee Billings

Bacteria Got an Early Fix on Nitrogen

New evidence points to the evolution of the ability for bacteria to grab nitrogen from the atmosphere some 3.2 billion years ago, about 1.2 billion years earlier than thought—with implications for finding extraterrestrial life...

February 23, 2015 — Lee Billings

Planet Hunters Bet Big on a Small Telescope to See Alien Earths

In 1990, NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft briefly looked back from its journey out of the solar system, capturing a view of the faraway Earth. Carl Sagan called it the "pale blue dot." From more than 6 billion kilometers away, beyond the orbit of Pluto, it seemed remarkable that our planet was even visible...

January 27, 2015 — Lee Billings

The Top 10 Space and Physics Stories of 2014

From humanity’s first, flawed foray to the surface of a comet to the celebrated discovery of (and less celebrated skepticism about) primordial gravitational waves, 2014 has brought some historic successes and failures in space science and physics...

December 22, 2014 — Lee Billings

UV Light Colors Great Red Spot

Jupiter's Great Red Spot is its particular crimson shade because of the interaction of ultraviolet light and specific chemical compounds in the gas giant's atmosphere. Lee Billings reports    

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December 1, 2014 — Lee Billings

Lander Stable on Comet, for Now

The Philae lander settled atop the “head” of the rubber duck–shaped object despite trouble with systems designed to secure the probe to the comet

November 12, 2014 — Lee Billings

What "Interstellar" Gets Wrong about Interstellar Travel

Christopher Nolan’s new film, Interstellar, is a near-future tale of astronauts departing a dying Earth to travel to Saturn, then through a wormhole to another galaxy, all in search of somewhere else humanity could call home...

November 12, 2014 — Lee Billings

Introducing Scientific American Health & Medicine

Introducing Scientific American Health & Medicine