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  • News in Brief

    Aerial radar sizes up ancient urban sprawl

    Laser pulses beamed from a low-flying airplane into northwestern Cambodia’s dense jungles have revealed ancient remnants of extensive, carefully planned settlements of rice farmers. These settlements were part of Angkor, the capital of the region’s Khmer empire.

    Angkor flourished from around 900 to 1500, but forests now obscure much of the city’s urban sprawl. Laser technology called...

    06/20/2013 - 10:31 Humans & Society, Archaeology
  • News in Brief

    Snails trace Stone Age trek from Iberia to Ireland

    Stone Age people may have carried land snails on a voyage from the Pyrenees to Ireland, an examination of the snails’ DNA reveals.

    Scientists have struggled to explain why Ireland shares some plant and animal species with the Iberian Peninsula, but not with the rest of Europe or the British Isles. For example, Cepaea nemoralis land snails on Ireland’s western coast and in the southern...

    06/19/2013 - 15:04 Anthropology
  • News in Brief

    Eye chip sends signals to blind rats' brains

    The partial blindness that accompanies macular degeneration and other retina-damaging diseases may soon be treatable with a new prosthetic. Rats with faulty vision that received the prosthetic implants responded to light with activity in their brains’ visual cortexes, a team from Stanford and the University of Strathclyde in Scotland reports.

    The results, published June 18 in Nature...

    06/18/2013 - 12:11 Technology
  • News

    Echoes create an interior map app

    Determining a room’s dimensions no longer requires a tape measure. An algorithm that sorts through echoes to develop accurate maps of a room, detailed June 17 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may lead to better sound quality for teleconferences and online gaming.

    Previous experimental setups of acoustic maps have always involved a speaker that emits a sound and...

    06/17/2013 - 17:50 Matter & Energy
  • News

    Oysters may struggle to build shells as carbon dioxide rises

    The changing chemistry of ocean waters may cause baby oysters to have trouble mustering the energy to build their shells, new research suggests.

    Oysters, clams, mussels and other bivalves build calcium carbonate shells using mostly raw materials from seawater. A two-day-old oyster larva is already 90 percent calcium carbonate by body weight, ecologist George Waldbusser of...

    06/17/2013 - 16:16 Animals
  • News

    Simple invisibility cloaks hide toys, pets, people

    View the video Making something invisible does not require complex materials and techniques. Well-placed mirrors or lenses can cloak fish, cats and even people, two new studies show.

    Since 2006, physicists have engineered intricate materials that can steer light waves around an object to render it invisible. But such cloaks can manipulate only a narrow range of wavelengths, a far cry...

    06/14/2013 - 16:55 Physics
  • News

    Leprosy bacterium changed little in last millennium

    The bacterium that causes leprosy still packs the same punch it did in the Middle Ages, a study of the organism’s genome reveals.

    Mycobacterium leprae causes skin sores, nerve damage and skeletal disfigurement. About 200,000 people worldwide contract leprosy each year. In early medieval Europe the bacterial infection was more common, but its incidence began to wane in the 16th century....

    06/13/2013 - 14:49 Molecular Evolution
  • News

    Primitive fish could nod but not shake its head

    Ancient fish fossils with preserved muscle tissue offer a glimpse at how necks evolved in early vertebrate animals. The fossils also offer a puzzle: The fish had specialized abdominal muscles found today in land animals, but not in fish, paleontologists report June 13 in Science.

    The 380-million-year-old fossils come from Western Australia’s Gogo Formation and...

    06/13/2013 - 14:20 Life & Evolution, Earth & Environment
  • News

    An eel's glow could illuminate liver disease

    An eel protein that shines green could enable a new test for liver problems and jaundice. The protein gets its glow on by connecting with the pigment bilirubin, scientists report in the June 20 Cell.

    Led by bioimaging specialist Atsushi Miyawaki, scientists from the RIKEN research institute in Japan spent three years trying to figure out what switched on the protein’s glow in...

    06/13/2013 - 13:36 Chemistry
  • News

    In the real world, cheetahs rarely go all out

    Cheetahs may run down a track faster than any other land animal. But in the wild, the cats rarely hit top speed; it’s quick bursts of acceleration and sudden slow-downs that get the cats their dinner.

    “They’re not going particularly quickly usually,” says Alan M. Wilson of the University of London Royal Veterinary College in Hatfield.

    But cheetahs have got some great moves. With...

    06/12/2013 - 13:52 Biophysics