Behind the Headlines
Explore our world, one headline at a time.
World Book Editors break down the news in our Behind the Headlines feature allowing for a deeper understanding of the complex events that shape our world today. Behind the Headlines articles are carefully crafted presenting the latest national and world news, science discoveries, current events and other top stories and are simplified for young readers.


Marie Curie 150

Polish-born French physicist Marie Curie was born 150 years ago today on Nov. 7, 1867. Curie, famous for her research on radioactivity, was the first woman awarded a Nobel Prize.

Recovering Consciousness

​In late September, a team of European neuroscientists (people who study the nervous system) reported that a patient who had been in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) for 15 years showed signs of consciousness after receiving a new nerve-stimulation therapy. The patient, a 35-year-old man who suffered severe brain injuries in a car accident, regained a level of consciousness once thought impossible.

New Purple Pig-Nosed Frogs

The region of the Western Ghats mountain range in India has turned up another new species of frog in 2017, and this one is quite bizarre. Bhupathy’s purple frog was named in honor of noted herpetologist Subramaniam Bhupathy, who died from a fall during an expedition in the Western Ghats in 2014.

The September Equinox

Today, at 4:02 p.m. Eastern Time, the autumnal equinox marks the beginning of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, where the seasons are reversed, the event is called the vernal equinox and marks the start of spring.

Cassini’s Grand Finale

Cassini is gone. For more than 13 years, the space probe revealed the secrets of Saturn. It ended its mission in a blaze of glory on Friday, September 15, crashing into the planet it had studied for so long.

Moon, Sun, Eclipse

Yesterday, on August 21, huge crowds gathered across the United Statesto watch the solar eclipse within the path of totality, the 70-mile (113-kilometer) wide swath of land from Oregon to South Carolina where the moon completely covered the sun.

Record U.S. Space Time

Last month, on April 24, United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut Peggy Whitson set a new record for cumulative time in space by an American astronaut as she began her 535th day beyond Earth’s atmosphere. Currently on board the International Space Station (ISS), Whitson surpassed the previous record of 534 total space days set by astronaut Jeffrey Williams in 2016.

A Unique Martian Potato

Human exploration of Mars is one of the primary long-term goals of such space agencies as the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA). But before people get there, scientists must solve a host of problems. First among them will be how to feed astronauts during an extended stay in the harsh environment of the Red Planet.

India’s New Night Frogs

After five years of exploration and study in the mountainous Western Ghats region of India, scientists have announced the discovery of seven new species (kinds) of frogs. Four of these new species are among the tiniest known frogs in the world, small enough to gather more than one on a 5-rupee coin (the rupee is the chief monetary unit of India).

Exploring the Amazon Reef

Off the coast of Brazil, where the Amazon River spills into the Atlantic Ocean, scientists are taking the first up-close and personal look at the recently discovered Amazon Reef. Existence of the large coral reef was not confirmed until an oceanographic survey of the area in 2012. The survey’s findings were published in 2016, and in late January 2017, scientists began exploring the reef two-by-two in a small submarine, the exploration craft of the Greenpeace ship Esperanza.In the late 1950’s, a ship collected sponges—animals that often inhabit coral reefs—from the floor of the Amazon Delta.

Supernova Spotting

In October 2013, an international team of scientists lead by Ofer Yaron, an astrophysicist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, detected and studied a supernova that occurred in a distant galaxy within three hours of the explosion’s light first reaching Earth. Thanks to the timely observations, the team was able to learn a lot about the star and the explosion that consumed it. The team published its findings in February 2017 in the journal Nature Physics.

Rare Ruby Seadragon

Australia’s rare ruby seadragon has recently been seen alive for the first time. Because of rough sea conditions, a team of researchers had just one day to find the elusive “monster” off the coast of southern Australia. The ruby seadragon lives in waters too deep for human divers, so the team used a remote-controlled submersible (undersea vessel) to scour the murky sea bottom.

The Fall of Rusty Patched Bumble Bees

For the first time in the continental United States, a wild bee has been designated as an endangered species In the past 20 years, the insect’s population has dropped 87 percent because of habitat loss, disease, pesticides, and climate change.

Australia’s New Flasher Frog

Flash! Flash! Flash! No, it’s not photographers following around Hollywood stars. It’s a new species of frog that flashes in a different kind of way, with a showy display to ward off attackers.

Monster Monday: the Box Jellyfish

Under water, the box jellyfish is practically invisible. It is one of the most venomous animals on Earth. It kills more people each year than sharks do. At most, however, it weighs only about 4½ pounds (2 kilograms). This Monster Monday critter packs a lot of pain into a small package.

A Boomerang Killed Kaakutja

Australian forensic science experts recently helped solve a centuries-old murder mystery when they determined that wounds on a prehistoric skeleton were inflicted by a boomerang.

The “Other” Nobel Prizes

The Ig Nobels, a parody of the “other” Nobels, celebrate the more humorous, witty, and sometimes trivial side of science. Many of the projects honored at the Ig Nobels are done purely for fun, but the projects (and their creators) are not without merit or the possibility of importance.

Mapping the Milky Way

The Milky Way Galaxy is our home, but we know surprisingly little about it. Last week, on September 14, the European Space Agency (ESA) released a wealth of data gathered by the space probe Gaia (named after the ancient Greek goddess Gaia).

The Pale Red Dot: Proxima b

On August 24, scientists from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) announced that they had discovered an extrasolar (beyond our solar system) planet, or exoplanet, that may harbor conditions favorable to life.

Monkey Stone Age

​Monkeys in the Amazon rain forest likely entered their own Stone Agemore than 700 years ago, according to scientists investigating a fascinating site at Serra da Capivara National Park in northeastern Brazil.

A Frankenstein Galaxy of Spare Parts

​In a sleepy section of the visible universe there lurks a huge galaxy with a bizarre patchwork of features. The galaxy was known to astronomers, but its large size and strange attributes went unnoticed for decades.

Sunny Solar Impulse 2 August 2, 2016

​Last week, on July 26, the solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse 2 landed in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, completing the first-ever zero-fuel flight around Earth. Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard flew the final leg from Cairo, Egypt, to Abu Dhabi’s Al-Bateen Executive Airport, a grueling 48½-hour journey buffeted by hot desert air-driven turbulence.

Ancient Wings in Amber

​Late last month, paleontologists (scientists who study fossils) announced an amazing discovery. Researchers led by Lida Xing at the ChinaUniversity of Geosciences in Beijing had discovered two bird wings preserved in amber. They published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Monster Monday: Armadillos of Unusual Size

Learn about the humble armadillo's prehistoric cousin—the glyptodont. While modern armadillos range in length from about 6 inches to 5 feet (15 centimeters to 1.5 meters), some species of glyptodont grew to over 10 feet (3 meters) long, the size of a small car.

Africa's Deep Helium Pool

Photo Credit: © AP Photo: Helium lifts weather balloons high into the atmosphere to record and transmit local weather information. Raise a toast—and a helium-filled balloon—to researchers from Durham...

Climate Change Victim One

About the photo: The Bramble Cay melomys (Melomys rubicola)—seen here in 2002—has vanished from the Earth. Scientists believe the small rodent is the first mammal victim of climate change. Credit:...

June Solstice

About the photo: When the North Pole has its greatest slant toward the sun, left, summer begins in the Northern Hemisphere and winter begins in the Southern Hemisphere. Credit: WORLD BOOK map Have...