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  • Science Stats

    Uninhabitable Earth

    To determine whether a planet could support life, astronomers first look at whether it falls within its star’s habitability zone, the Goldilocks distance that is not too hot or too cold. But that range can change as a star evolves. A recent estimate of the lifetimes of the habitability zones of Earth and various exoplanets suggests Earth could become unable to support life as soon as 1.75...

    11/11/2013 - 10:12 Planetary Science
  • It's Alive

    Pink armadillos ain’t your Texas critters

    Here’s an Internet bizarrity that you can believe in: the pink fairy armadillo.

    It’s a real animal, the smallest armadillo species in the world. At about 100 grams, it would fit in your hands. It’s covered with “very fine, silky white hair,” says Mariella Superina of the CONICET research center in Mendoza, Argentina. And its hard outer covering, rich in blood vessels, can blush pink....

    11/07/2013 - 11:26 Animals
  • Say What?

    Qingsongite

    A newly christened mineral has an atomic structure that’s similar to diamond and nearly as hard. Qingsongite was first created in the laboratory in 1957, and geologists first found natural qingsongite, which is a cubic boron nitride, in chromium-rich rocks in Tibet in 2009.

    The mineral is named after deceased Chinese geologist Qingsong Fang, who discovered diamond in similar Tibetan...

    11/03/2013 - 17:32 Materials, Earth, Chemistry
  • Introducing

    Clearly new snail

    Croatia’s deepest cave system is home to a tiny, translucent resident. The newly named Zospeum tholussum belongs to a group of terrestrial snails found in wet subterranean habitats. Alexander Weigand of Goethe University Frankfurt in Germany retrieved a living specimen from one chamber and a handful of empty shells from others more than 800 meters deep inside the Lukina Jama–Trojama cave...

    11/02/2013 - 15:43 Animals, Ecosystems
  • Feature

    Waiting to exhale

    The 800 or so breaths you release each hour contain more than just spent air. Along with familiar gases like carbon dioxide, nitrogen and oxygen, each breath holds a vaporized record of the foods you’ve eaten, the places you’ve been, the drugs you’ve taken, the pollutants you’ve encountered and the general operation of your internal organs. It’s a chronicle of daily living that doctors have...

    11/01/2013 - 14:40 Biomedicine
  • Feature

    Mind to motion

    Thick Velcro straps cinched the robot’s legs to Steve Holbert’s calves and thighs. The straps were snug — they helped secure his body to the machine. But they had to be fastened just right. Too loose and Holbert might slip around. Too tight and the straps could cause pressure sores. Not that Holbert could tell the difference: He hadn’t felt his legs since 2009.

    Holbert was testing out a...

    11/01/2013 - 14:05 Neuroscience, Technology
  • Science Visualized

    How ticks get under your skin

    A new look at a tick’s mouthparts shows how the arachnid saws its way through skin and hangs on for up to a week. The castor bean tick Ixodes ricinus, a European species that carries Lyme disease, faces an engineering problem: Its needlelike mouthparts are good at piercing but useless for hanging on during long periods of feeding. And unlike some ticks, this species does not make a cement to...

    11/01/2013 - 12:36 Animals, Physiology
  • News

    Oort cloud tosses astronomers a cometary curveball

    Pretty much every major telescope in the world is gearing up to witness a meeting that has been scheduled since long before humans walked the Earth. Around Thanksgiving, Comet ISON, a mountain-sized chunk of primordial solar system, will approach within 2 million kilometers of the sun and either fall apart or slingshot back into deep space. Astronomers aren’t sure yet how much of a spectacle...

    10/25/2013 - 10:15 Astronomy
  • News

    Brain stimulation restores movement in rats with spinal cord damage

    With the help of electrodes implanted in the brain stem, rats with spinal cord injuries can regain the ability to walk and swim with ease, scientists report October 23 in Science Translational Medicine.

    It’s not yet clear whether the technique would work in people with paralysis, but the research represents a new lead in the search for badly needed therapies, says study coauthor Lukas...

    10/23/2013 - 14:00 Neuroscience
  • Reviews & Previews

    Love and Math

    Early in his career, mathematician Edward Frenkel had a secret love. He worked diligently on applied mathematics but would sneak away to indulge in the seductive problems of pure mathematics. Frenkel recounts his maturation from a young boy plagued by anti-Semitism in the USSR to a leader in his field.

    Along the way, readers experience complex mathematical concepts as Frenkel did...

    10/23/2013 - 14:00 Numbers