Reviews & Previews
SlimeRuth KassingerHoughton Mifflin Harcourt, $26
A slew of popular-science books have set out to convince readers that some overlooked, obscure or generally disdained category of thing is actually wildly important, whether it’s salt, garbage or beavers (SN: 8/4/18, p. 28). Slime, all about algae, is one of those books.
If you’re skeptical that algae can sustain such an...
In 2005, Rachel Straub was a college student returning home from a three-week medical service mission in Central America. Soon after, she suffered a brutal case of the flu. Or so she thought.
“We were staying in orphanages,” she says of her trip to Costa Rica and Nicaragua. “There were bugs everywhere. I remember going to the bathroom and the sinks would be solid bugs.” She plucked at...
Lighter bulletproof vest —06/20/2019 - 07:00 Materials
A new, lighter bulletproof armor ... composed of boron carbide fibers ... [is] capable of stopping a .30-caliber bullet.... The armor weighs about six pounds per square foot, compared to previous boron carbide armor of seven pounds per square foot.... Until now boron carbide armor has been used mainly to protect vital helicopter parts, but the lighter...
Lobster bisque and shrimp cocktail make for scrumptious meals, but at a price. The food industry generates 6 million to 8 million metric tons of crab, shrimp and lobster shell waste every year. Depending on the country, those claws and legs largely get dumped back into the ocean or into landfills.
In many of those same landfills, plastic trash relentlessly accumulates. Humans have...
Letters to the Editor
Black hole bonanza06/17/2019 - 07:15 Astronomy, Physics, Animals
The Event Horizon Telescope captured the first image of a black hole (shown on the cover of Science News at left). Data from the telescope array revealed that the behemoth, which resides at the center of the galaxy M87, is about 38 billion kilometers across and about 6.5 billion solar masses, Lisa Grossman and Emily Conover reported in “The first picture of a black hole...
Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy had no problem finding out what ailed his patients. He simply waved a handheld scanner over them, and the tricorder spat out a diagnosis — even if the patient was a Romulan.
Earthbound diagnostics haven’t yet measured up to the extragalactic version, alas. Go to the doctor, and it’s likely to take a variety of tests to come up with a diagnosis. And even then,...
Prescribing the best medication may require going with a patient’s gut — or at least, the bacteria that live there.
Anecdotal reports have revealed that some gut-dwelling microbes chemically alter oral medications, affecting how well those drugs work (SN Online: 7/19/13). But the scope of this problem has remained unclear. Now, a sweeping survey of these interactions suggests that gut...
News in Brief
It’s mass for the masses.
A tabletop device makes the new definition of the kilogram more accessible. Previously, the kilogram had been equal to the mass of a special metal cylinder kept in a vault near Paris. But researchers did away with that standard on May 20, pegging the kilogram instead to a quantum mechanical number known as the Planck constant (SN Online: 5/20/19).
News in Brief
Thousands of puffins and other seabirds in the Bering Sea appear to have died in the winter of 2016 to 2017. The birds look like they starved to death, but the ultimate culprit was probably climate change, scientists say.
From October 2016 to January 2017, more than 350 dead birds, mostly tufted puffins, washed ashore at St. Paul Island, Alaska, on the Bering Sea. The birds were...
News in Brief
Saber-toothed cats may sometimes have wielded their formidable canine teeth as deadly weapons to puncture the skulls of rival cats.
It was already suspected that Smilodon cats used their huge canines to take down prey, perhaps by ripping out the prey’s throat (SN: 3/30/19, p. 20). But some researchers argued that the daggerlike teeth, which could grow up to 28 centimeters long in the...