Letters to the Editor
Doomsday preppers03/08/2017 - 12:22 Animals, Evolution, Biophysics
Dinosaurs and other creatures were largely wiped out 66 million years ago from an asteroid impact, volcanic eruptions or maybe a mix of the two, Thomas Sumner reported in “Devastation detectives” (SN: 2/4/17, p. 16), in the Science News special report “Dino Doomsday.”
Online reader Mike van Horn wondered if the timing of the volcanic eruptions, which happened for h...
The “nudge” may have been formalized in a 2008 book, but I’d bet that the core concept — simple strategies for influencing other people’s decisions — dates back at least to the rise of human language. It wouldn’t surprise me if early hunter-gatherers on African savannas relied on some strategies of persuasion to convince, for example, other members of the group to help hunt for food....03/08/2017 - 12:21 Science & Society
Nudges are a growth industry. Inspired by a popular line of psychological research and introduced in a best-selling book a decade ago, these inexpensive behavior changers are currently on a roll.
Policy makers throughout the world, guided by behavioral scientists, are devising ways to steer people toward decisions deemed to be in their best interests. These simple interventions don’t...
The Science Life
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Eijiro Miyako gets emotional about the decline of honeybees.
“We need pollination,” he says. “If that system is collapsed, it’s terrible.”
Insects, especially bees, help pollinate both food crops and wild plants. But pollinators are declining worldwide due to habitat loss, disease and exposure to pesticides, among other factors (SN: 1/23/16, p. 16).
Reviews & Previews
The Death and Life of the Great LakesDan EganW.W. Norton & Co., $27.95
Every summer, people flock to the Great Lakes to swim and fish in the seemingly infinite waters and hike along the idyllic shores. But an ominous undercurrent flows just out of sight. Below the water’s surface rages an environmental catastrophe 200 years in the making.
In The Death and Life of the Great...
Tech evangelists predicted that 2016 would be “the year of virtual reality.” And in some ways they were right. Several virtual reality headsets finally hit the commercial market, and millions of people bought one. But as people begin immersing themselves in new realities, a growing number of worrisome reports have surfaced: VR systems can make some users sick.
Scientists are just...
Reviews & Previews
MonkeytalkJulia FischerUniv. of Chicago, $25
The social lives of macaques and baboons play out in what primatologist Julia Fischer calls “a magnificent opera.” When young Barbary macaques reach about 6 months, they fight nightly with their mothers. Young ones want the “maternal embrace” as they snooze; mothers want precious alone time. Getting pushed away and bitten by dear...
Evidence of Precambrian life03/02/2017 - 12:00 Evolution, Microbes
From deep in the gold mines of South Africa’s Orange Free State has come evidence that there was some form of biologic activity on Earth at least 2.15 billion years ago. Polymerized hydrocarbon “chemo-fossils” found in the gold ores … [probably] were originally part of a rich bacterial and algal life in the Witwatersrand basin. Since the rock layers from...
Last August, scientists injected a potential vaccine for Zika virus into a human being — just 3½ months after they had decided exactly what molecular recipe to use.
In the world of vaccine development, 3½ months from design to injection is “warp speed,” says vaccine researcher Nelson Michael of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Md. Clinical trials can take...
Lurking beneath New Zealand is a long-hidden continent called Zealandia, geologists say. But since nobody is in charge of officially designating a new continent, individual scientists will ultimately have to judge for themselves.
A team of geologists pitches the scientific case for the new continent in the March/April issue of GSA Today, arguing that Zealandia is a continuous expanse of...