Pregnant women who do not have enough folic acid — a B vitamin — in their bodies can pass the deficiency on to their unborn children. It may lead to retarded growth and congenital malformation, according to Dr. A. Leonard Luhby…. “Folic acid deficiency in pregnant women could well constitute a public health problem of dimensions we have not originally recognized,” he says...
Wouldn’t it be brilliant if every scientist had a crystal ball? It’s a question that came to me while reading Alexandra Witze’s story “What the Pliocene epoch can teach us about future warming on Earth.” Witze discusses how scientists are studying a warming period some 3 million years ago to try to understand how Earth will handle rising temperatures. The geologic epoch, known as the...11/29/2017 - 15:45 Science & Society, Climate
Letters to the Editor
Culture club11/29/2017 - 15:36 Evolution, Science & Society
The book Rise of the Necrofauna tackles the challenges of using gene-editing tools to bring woolly mammoths and other long-gone species back from the dead. These “de-extincted” creatures would have to contend with a radically changed world that includes new habitats and diseases, Tina Hesman Saey wrote in her review “Resurrecting extinct species raises ethical questions” (SN:...
James Davis used to be an avid outdoorsman. He surfed, hiked, skateboarded and rock climbed. Today, the 48-year-old from Albuquerque barely gets out of bed. He has the most severe form of multiple sclerosis, known as primary progressive MS, a worsening disease that destroys the central nervous system. Diagnosed in May 2011, Davis relied on a wheelchair within six months. He can no longer get...
Imagine a world where the polar ice sheets are melting, sea level is rising and the atmosphere is stuffed with about 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide. Sound familiar? It should. We’re living it. But the description also matches Earth a little over 3 million years ago, in the middle of the geologic epoch known as the Pliocene.
To understand how our planet might respond as global...
Once billed as “the most beautiful woman in the world,” actress Hedy Lamarr is often remembered for Golden Age Hollywood hits like Samson and Delilah. But Lamarr was gifted with more than just a face for film; she had a mind for science.
A new documentary, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, spotlights Lamarr’s lesser-known legacy as an inventor. The film explores how the pretty veneer...
Reviews & Previews
A Cold WelcomeSam WhiteHarvard Univ., $29.95
Many people may be fuzzy on the details of North America’s colonial history between Columbus’ arrival in 1492 and the Pilgrims’ landing on Plymouth Rock in 1620. But Europeans were actively attempting to colonize North America from the early 16th century onward, even though few colonies survived.
As historian Sam White explains in A...
Sickness makes some corals lose their glow.
Disease reduces a coral’s overall fluorescence even before any sign of the infection is visible to the naked eye, a new study finds. An imaging technique that illuminates the change could help with efforts to better monitor coral health, researchers report November 6 in Scientific Reports.
Many corals naturally produce fluorescent...
Gene-editing tools heralded as hope for fighting invader rats, malarial mosquitoes and other scourges may be too powerful to use in their current form, two new papers warn.
Standard forms of CRISPR gene drives, as the tools are called, can make tweaked DNA race through a population so easily that a small number of stray animals or plants could spread it to new territory, predicts a...
In stark contrast to earlier findings, adults do not produce new nerve cells in a brain area important to memory and navigation, scientists conclude after scrutinizing 54 human brains spanning the age spectrum.
The finding is preliminary. But if confirmed, it would overturn the widely accepted and potentially powerful idea that in people, the memory-related hippocampus constantly churns...