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  • Science Visualized

    Visualization offers view of a nerve cell’s dispatch center

    See numbered details • View the video

    Brains run on constant streams of chatter. The roughly 85 billion nerve cells in the human brain converse by sending messages via molecules called neurotransmitters. These chemical conversations allow the brain to think, remember and feel, but the details of how those messages move remain mysterious.

    To get a closer look, researchers led by...

    06/17/2014 - 07:30 Neuroscience
  • Science Stats

    Obesity on the rise globally

    Some 2.1 billion people, almost 30 percent of the world’s population, are overweight or obese.

    Data from 1980 to 2013 show that the biggest increases in the prevalence of obesity in women occurred in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Honduras and Bahrain, and for men, in New Zealand, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

    06/16/2014 - 10:00 Health
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Dinosaurs Without Bones’ gives glimpse of long-gone life

    Dinosaurs Without Bones: Dinosaur Lives Revealed by their Trace FossilsAnthony J. MartinPegasus Books, $29.95

    When people walk into a museum’s dinosaur hall, what makes them gasp in awe are the incredibly huge bones. An adult T. rex, which could be up to 12 meters long, had teeth the size of bananas. A humerus, or upper arm bone, of the largest (thankfully vegetarian) long-...

    06/15/2014 - 10:30 Paleontology
  • Reviews & Previews

    'Prisoners, Lovers, and Spies' reveals the secrets of invisible ink

    Prisoners, Lovers, and Spies: The Story of Invisible Ink from Herodotus to al-Qaeda Kristie MacrakisYale Univ., $27.95

    Pig’s bladder, gypsum, fig sap, alum and onion juice — there’s no eye of newt among invisible ink recipes, but blood of dormouse is fair game. By the end of science historian Macrakis’ nearly 3,000-year accounting of secret messages, she’s all but thrown in...

    06/14/2014 - 10:30 History of Science, Chemistry
  • Letters to the Editor


    Tracing ancient genes

    Prehistoric Europe was home to hunter-gatherers until migrating farmers muscled them out. Genetic information teased from ancient skeletons is helping scientists reconstruct this saga, as Tina Hesman Saey reported in “Written in bone” (SN: 5/17/14, p. 26).

    Sometimes, untangling genetic history can be a little one-sided. Researchers often rely on mitochondrial DNA,...

    06/13/2014 - 15:30 Animals, Genetics, Anthropology
  • Editor's Note

    Scientists struggle to find signals in the noise

    Each time I open my e-mail, I scan a long list of subject lines to find the messages that have something important to tell me. Occasionally, I’ll miss one and have to go back later to find it. Sometimes I make a different kind of mistake, opening a missive of no consequence. The point is that, even in a simple system like my in-box (OK, not that simple — the current count shows 19,004 unopened...

    06/13/2014 - 15:15 Technology
  • Feature

    Mammography’s limits becoming clear

    Philip Strax was just 38 years old when his wife Bertha died from breast cancer. He was, a friend said later, powerfully in love with her, and her death was a blow from which he never fully recovered. He resolved to spend the rest of his life improving the early detection of breast cancer, to keep other women from dying as she had.

    That was in 1947, when X-rays, then the primary means of...

    06/13/2014 - 14:30 Cancer, Health, Science & Society
  • Feature

    Dazzle or dust?

    On March 17, Lloyd Knox, a cosmologist at the University of California, Davis, joined scientists around the world in celebrating a Nobel Prize–worthy discovery. That day researchers from the Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization project announced that their telescope at the South Pole, BICEP2, had detected a subtle twirling pattern imprinted on light that had traveled across...

    06/13/2014 - 14:00 Cosmology, Astronomy
  • The –est

    California mite becomes fastest land animal

    A sesame seed–sized mite from California can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound, and it is definitely not more powerful than a locomotive. But it is quick. New videos have captured the Paratarsotomus macropalpis mite skittering  along at almost 30 centimeters per second. P. macropalpis moves 322 body lengths per second and is now by far the fastest land animal in terms of speed for its...

    06/12/2014 - 16:27 Biophysics, Animals
  • Self-driving cars are not a thing of the past

    Automated Commuting — A way for commuters to have separate automobiles yet leave the driving to computers has been developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.... [Engineers] call the car a Commucar. It could be driven and parked anywhere on any road, but would also be suitable for use under automatic control on special, 60-mile-an-hour main arteries…. The Commucar would be...
    06/12/2014 - 11:00 Technology, Computing