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  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers wrangle with definition of ‘species’

    Species shmecies

    In “Defining ‘species’ is a fuzzy art” (SN: 11/11/17, p. 22), Susan Milius asked scientists to define “species.” Schoolbooks may define the concept as a group of organisms that create fertile offspring when mating with each other but not when mating with outsiders. But for researchers specializing in the topic, a single definition is hard to come by.

    “It seems to me...

    01/10/2018 - 12:37 Evolution, Technology, Astronomy
  • Editor's Note

    We’ll be watching the skies, plus a lot more, this year

    If this issue is any clue, 2018 may be the Year of Space. Our pages are packed with a surprising wealth of content for astronomy lovers, and anyone who dreams of otherworldly encounters.

    In our cover story, astronomy writer Lisa Grossman reports on the race to Mars. SpaceX announced last year that it plans to get people to the Red Planet by 2024, but the battle over what humans’...

    01/10/2018 - 12:32 Science & Society, Astronomy, Climate
  • Feature

    How to keep humans from ruining the search for life on Mars

    T he Okarian rover was in trouble. The yellow Humvee was making slow progress across a frigid, otherworldly landscape when planetary scientist Pascal Lee felt the rover tilt backward. Out the windshield, Lee, director of NASA’s Haughton Mars Project, saw only sky. The rear treads had broken through a crack in the sea ice and were sinking into the cold water.

    True, there are signs of...

    01/10/2018 - 11:30 Planetary Science, Astrobiology
  • Feature

    Hormone replacement makes sense for some menopausal women

    Internist Gail Povar has many female patients making their way through menopause, some having a tougher time than others. Several women with similar stories stand out in her mind. Each came to Povar’s Silver Spring, Md., office within a year or two of stopping her period, complaining of frequent hot flashes and poor sleep at night. “They just felt exhausted all the time,” Povar says. “The joy...

    01/09/2018 - 14:00 Health
  • Screentime

    Website invites you to probe a 3-D human brain

    In movies, exploring the body up close often involves shrinking to microscopic sizes and taking harrowing rides through the blood. Thanks to a new virtual model, you can journey through a three-dimensional brain. No shrink ray required.

    The Society for Neuroscience and other organizations have long sponsored the website, which has basic information about how the human...

    01/09/2018 - 07:00 Neuroscience
  • How the Dead Sea Scrolls survived a war in the 1960s

    Dead Sea Scrolls safe

    The famous Dead Sea Scrolls, rumored lost or damaged during the June war between Israel and Egypt, are safe, according to Antiquity…. On the eve of the war they were packed up and put safely in a strong room in the basement of the Palestine Archaeological Museum (Rockefeller Museum), according to a reliable authority. —  Science News, January 20, 1968

    01/04/2018 - 12:30 Archaeology
  • News

    A deadly fungus is infecting snake species seemingly at random

    It doesn’t matter if it’s a burly rattler or a tiny garter snake. A deadly fungal disease that’s infecting snakes in the eastern and midwestern United States doesn’t appear to discriminate by species, size or habitat, researchers report online December 20 in Science Advances.

    The infection, caused by the fungal pathogen Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, can cover snakes’ bodies with lesions...

    12/20/2017 - 16:35 Fungi, Animals, Ecology
  • News

    Specialized protein helps these ground squirrels resist the cold

    The hardy souls who manage to push shorts season into December might feel some kinship with the thirteen-lined ground squirrel.

    The critter hibernates all winter, but even when awake, it’s less sensitive to cold than its nonhibernating relatives, a new study finds. That cold tolerance is linked to changes in a specific cold-sensing protein in the sensory nerve cells of the ground...

    12/19/2017 - 12:07 Animals, Genetics, Physiology
  • News

    AI has found an 8-planet system like ours in Kepler data

    Our solar system is no longer the sole record-holder for most known planets circling a star.

    An artificial intelligence algorithm sifted through data from the planet-hunting Kepler space telescope and discovered a previously overlooked planet orbiting Kepler 90 — making it the first star besides the sun known to host eight planets. This finding, announced in a NASA teleconference...

    12/14/2017 - 20:10 Exoplanets, Artificial Intelligence, Astronomy, Technology
  • News

    These weather events turned extreme thanks to human-driven climate change

    NEW ORLEANS — For the first time, scientists have definitively linked human-caused climate change to extreme weather events.

    A handful of extreme events that occurred in 2016 — including a deadly heat wave that swept across Asia — simply could not have happened due to natural climate variability alone, three new studies find. The studies were part of a special issue of the Bulletin of...

    12/14/2017 - 16:53 Climate, Earth