A desire for knowledge on many science fronts

Our readers are newshounds with boundless curiosity, always eager to learn what’s new, significant or surprising. With each issue, we try to feed that desire for credible, concise — even entertaining — news from many science fields. This issue, too, ranges far and wide. We cover new evidence that the coronavirus may be getting better at taking flight on tiny airborne particles, as well as an experiment suggesting that protons can catch a shock wave. And we had to share a story supporting what sports lovers already knew in their hearts: Home team advantage fades when the fans stay home.

I’m also excited for you to read the latest feature in our Century of Science series. Each of these stories offers a deep dive into discoveries that Science News has covered over the last 100 years. This latest one is relevant to all of us: how our species, Homo sapiens, came to be. Managing editor Erin Wayman was the perfect person to take on this project. With a graduate degree in biological anthropology, she has extensive knowledge of primate behavior and human evolution. As obsessed as she is with the topic (each table at her wedding had its own monkey theme), even she was surprised to learn how much has changed since her university days. Many of us take for granted that our ancient ancestors came from Africa, yet the search for human origins focused on Europe and Asia until the 1924 discovery of a skull in South Africa. Even in the mid-20th century, there were still doubts that Africa held the secrets of our beginnings.

As our species continues to evolve and grow in numbers, one of the biggest challenges we face is climate change. Science News intern Nikk Ogasa describes how climate change is imperiling one of the world’s key food staples, rice. Time for the big brains of H. sapiens to come through with bright ideas to rescue rice to feed the world.

Cori Vanchieri was the features editor from 2014 to 2022.