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  • News in Brief

    White dwarf boosts light of stellar companion

    View the videoAstronomers have discovered a unique pair of stars consisting of a white dwarf, the compact core of a dead star, and the sunlike star it orbits. When the white dwarf passes in front of its companion, as seen from Earth, the white dwarf’s gravity magnifies the other star’s light. The pair represents the first clear sign of a gravitational lens in a binary star....
    04/18/2014 - 12:06 Astronomy
  • Science Ticker

    Gene variant, processed meat linked to boost in cancer risk

    Eating processed meat is associated with an increased risk of developing colon cancer in people who have the gene variant rs4143094, researchers report April 17 in PLOS Genetics. One in three people have this altered gene, which is found on the same...
    04/18/2014 - 09:00 Health, Genetics
  • News

    Poor slumber is bad for young flies' brains

    Busy people like to say that the best time to sleep is when you’re dead. But the best time to sleep is actually when you’re young, a study of fruit flies suggests.Newly hatched fruit files deprived of sleep end up with brain and behavior problems later in life, scientists report in the April 18 Science. “This study is a really...
    04/18/2014 - 08:30 Neuroscience, Human Development
  • Science Ticker

    Protein that gets sperm into egg identified

    Exactly what molecule in a mammal's egg cell talks to sperm to let them wriggle inside has been difficult to identify. In 2005, scientists discovered that sperm carry a protein called Izumo1 that gets them to fuse with an egg. Now, research on mice shows that it's the protein folate receptor 4, or Folr4, on the egg that...
    04/17/2014 - 20:00 Cells, Human Development
  • Reviews & Previews

    To do: Exhibits to explore this May in D.C. and New York

    The Future Is Here Festival May 16–18Cosmologist Brian Greene and actor Patrick Stewart are among the headliners at this event, themed “science meets science fiction.”Ronald Reagan Building, Washington, D.C.World Science FestivalMay 28–June 1...
    04/17/2014 - 18:23 Technology, Science & Society, Animals
  • Science Ticker

    Even with rest, brain changes linked to football linger

    The offseason may not allow enough time for football players' brains to heal from hard hits.A new study looked at the brains and head impacts (an average of 431 to 1,850 per player per season) of 10 division III college football players. None of the players were diagnosed with a...
    04/17/2014 - 17:15 Neuroscience, Mental Health
  • Wild Things

    How a chimp goes mattress hunting

    Note: The following scene is fiction (probably). Stay tuned for the real story below.Two chimps, a mother and daughter, are touring a mattress store. They’re looking for beds to sleep in for the night. Actually, they’re looking for materials to make their beds — or nests, as they’re properly called. This is something chimps do every night for their entire lives after they’re weaned. ...
    04/17/2014 - 16:49 Animals
  • Science Ticker

    Early meat-eater may have led to larger plant-eaters

    The newly identified Eocasea martini didn’t inspire the adult beverage that shares its name, but the small barrel-bodied creature may have set the stage for later, much larger animals to become plant-eaters.A roughly 300 million-year-old fossil of E. martini found in Kansas suggests that the early proto-mammal munched on meat. But species similar in body structure that came...
    04/17/2014 - 15:06 Paleontology
  • News

    Gene activity sets humans apart from extinct hominids

    Extinct human cousins may have used some genes differently than modern people do, an analysis of Neandertal and Denisovan DNA reveals.Compared with living people, Neandertals and ancient Siberians known as Denisovans had slightly different patterns of DNA methylation — a chemical modification of DNA that doesn’t change the information in genes but helps control gene activity. Evolutionary...
    04/17/2014 - 14:00 Genetics, Molecular Evolution, Human Evolution
  • News

    Earth-sized planet found in star’s habitable zone

    Earth, meet your distant cousin. The Kepler space telescope has turned up a potentially water-bearing world nearly as small as our planet. The planet is the smallest one found in any star’s habitable zone, a temperate region surrounding a star that is suitable for liquid water.Elisa Quintana, an astronomer at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and colleagues discovered the...
    04/17/2014 - 14:00 Exoplanets, Astronomy