Excerpts from science, technology, environment and health reports from around the web.

Space station astronauts snap amazing photos of Alaskan volcanic eruption

Astronauts on the International Space Station captured jaw-dropping pictures of a volcanic eruption last Saturday. Since then, the volcano has been hidden from sight, shrouded in thick clouds. Pavlof Volcano has been belching ash and spewing lava since May 13, when tremors and rising surface temperatures gave way to fountains of molten rock bursting from the volcano's north flank.

The first image ever of a hydrogen atom’s orbital structure

What you’re looking at is the first direct observation of an atom’s electron orbital — an atom's actual wave function! To capture the image, researchers utilized a new quantum microscope — an incredible new device that literally allows scientists to gaze into the quantum realm.

Pure hype of pure research helps no one

What do you get when you cross science hype with conservative politics? The answer is the High Quality Research Act, a draft bill that would require the director of the US National Science Foundation (NSF) to certify the quality of every science project that the agency funds with its roughly US$5.6-billion research budget.

A YouTube video, titled ‘Mars Science Laboratory: Time Lapse - Sol 0 - Sol 281’, was posted on May 22 showing time-lapsed footage of the Mars rover Curiosity and its first nine months on the red planet.

Decode Darwin’s handwriting to help science

Do you have a special talent for reading scribbled handwriting and an interest in looking at dead bugs?

Rather than setting a handful of bleary-eyed undergrads with the task of transcribing hand-written field notes that correspond with its more than a million insect specimens, Calbug, a consortium of nine major entomological collections from across California, is opening the project up to the public, asking citizen scientists to help convert the records into an electronic form so they can be made available worldwide.

In defense of playing around in the lab

In science, most mistakes are bad. But sometimes they're good. And sometimes they're not merely good; they are extraordinary. Occasionally—but more times than seems likely to be, well, an accident—mistakes are even crucial to discovery. Just look at this list of famous historical scientific accidents and the discoveries they spawned.

Scientists discover molecular trigger for itch

Once thought to be a low-level form of pain, itch is instead a distinct sensation with a dedicated neural circuit linking cells in the periphery of the body to the brain, a study in mice suggests.

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