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  • Feature

    The Inconstant Gardener

    Like the cavalry in old Western movies, certain immune cells in the brain rush to answer distress calls and save the day. If a nerve cell is injured or a toxin attacks the brain, these microglia ride to the rescue, moving to the injury site and destroying any bad guys they encounter.

    But even in the movies the cavalry, mistakenly or intentionally, sometimes mows down innocent bystanders...

    11/15/2013 - 15:01 Neuroscience
  • Feature

    Old drug, new tricks

    Like an aging actor rediscovered after being typecast for years, the long-standing diabetes drug metformin is poised to reinvent itself. A wealth of studies suggests the drug has cancer-fighting properties, and clinical trials are now under way to prove it.

    Metformin’s impact could be huge. “We believe that if this drug works, it will save between 100,000 and 150,000 lives a year...

    11/15/2013 - 15:00 Cancer, Biomedicine
  • News

    Meteor explosions like this year’s Russian fireball more common than thought

    Meteor impacts such as February’s explosion over Chelyabinsk, Russia, the most powerful observed in a century, may occur more frequently than thought. An analysis of recorded impacts over the past two decades suggests that Chelyabinsk-sized objects strike the planet every few decades, on average, rather than once every century or two.

    “There were inklings of this before, but this is the...

    11/06/2013 - 13:22 Planetary Science
  • Letters to the Editor

    Feedback

    SN gets a new look

    The October 19 issue of Science News showed off a makeover with a clean, modern design and expanded department sections.

    Remembering the passionate reader response to a more extensive redesign in 2008, Science News editors braced for a flood of letters. So far, the reaction to our changes has been mostly positive. Burt Kessler, a reader since 1970, e-mailed to...

    11/06/2013 - 08:30 Science & Society, Astronomy
  • News

    Billions and billions of Earth-sized planets call Milky Way home

    The galaxy contains billions of potentially habitable Earth-sized planets, according to even the most conservative estimate drawing on data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope.

    Although a mechanical failure recently put the telescope out of commission (SN: 6/15/13, p. 10), Kepler’s census of planets orbiting roughly 170,000 stars is enabling astronomers to predict how common planets...

    11/04/2013 - 18:01 Exoplanets
  • Editor's Note

    U.S. science funding sends young people a mixed message

    Much effort is expended on informing young people about the wonders of science. Lab classes at school, hands-on museums, television shows, competitions and publications such as our own Science News for Students are designed to cultivate an appreciation for knowledge and to encourage students to pursue careers in science. I wholeheartedly endorse efforts to improve and expand STEM (short for...

    11/03/2013 - 08:00 Science & Society
  • News

    Steroids boost muscles for the long haul

    Steroids may continue to boost muscle-building capacity long after a person stops taking the drugs, a new study of mice suggests. The finding could mean that athletes who cheat by taking anabolic steroids should be suspended from competition for a decade or longer.

    The research also suggests that building muscles in youth may have benefits that last into old age.

    In the new study,...

    11/01/2013 - 08:01 Physiology
  • News

    Dark energy search gets murkier

    New measurements of light from distant supernovas could complicate cosmologists’ already-frustrating attempts to explain the mysterious dark energy that is pushing apart the universe.

    In the new analysis, scientists combined data from 146 recently discovered supernovas with previously published results and calculated an important cosmological parameter. Their result is inconsistent with...

    10/31/2013 - 14:57 Cosmology
  • News

    Candidates for dark matter particles bite the dust

    The elusive substance that makes up more than a quarter of the universe is now even more of a mystery. A supersensitive search for dark matter has come up empty, researchers announced in an October 30 press conference, casting serious doubt on the findings of experiments that have claimed detections or hints of dark matter particles.

    Dark matter is the ultimate tease: Scientists know it...

    10/30/2013 - 16:20 Cosmology
  • News in Brief

    Evidence mounts for bat origins of SARS

    Chinese horseshoe bats carry two newly identified viruses that are closely related to the coronavirus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in people. The discovery, reported October 30 in Nature, provides the strongest evidence to date that SARS may have originated in bats.

    The spread of SARS in 2002–2003 caused a pandemic that sickened more than 8,000 people and...

    10/30/2013 - 15:57 Biomedicine