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  • News

    CRISPR enters its first human clinical trials

    Since its debut in 2012, CRISPR gene editing has held the promise of curing most of the over 6,000 known genetic diseases. Now it’s being put to the test.

    In the first spate of clinical trials, scientists are using CRISPR/Cas9 to combat cancer and blood disorders in people. In these tests, researchers remove some of a person’s cells, edit the DNA and then inject the cells back in, now...

    08/14/2019 - 08:00 Genetics, Biomedicine, Science & Society
  • News

    Engraved bones reveal that symbolism had ancient roots in East Asia

    Lines engraved between 125,000 and 105,000 years ago on two animal bones found in northern China held some sort of meaning for their makers, researchers say.

    These ancient markings provide the oldest evidence of symbolic activity by humans or our close evolutionary relatives in East Asia, says a team led by archaeologists Zhanyang Li and Luc Doyon, both of Shandong University in Jinan,...

    08/14/2019 - 06:00 Archaeology, Human Evolution
  • News

    A mussel poop diet could fuel invasive carp’s spread across Lake Michigan

    If invasive carp reach Lake Michigan, a buffet of mussel poop and other junk food could help the fish survive and spread.

    Once thought to be a food desert for these fish, the lake may provide enough nutrition for two Asian carp species, bighead (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis) and silver carp  (H. molitrix), thanks to their not-so-picky eating habits, researchers report August 12 in...

    08/13/2019 - 10:50 Ecosystems, Animals, Ecology
  • News

    Two of four Ebola treatments prove highly effective in a clinical trial

    Two Ebola treatments have proven to be effective in preventing death during a clinical trial conducted amid the ongoing outbreak in Congo, preliminary data suggest.

    The trial began in November, with participants randomly given one of four experimental treatments (SN: 3/16/19, p. 9). Data from 499 patients reviewed August 9 suggest that those people taking one of two antibody treatments...

    08/12/2019 - 18:01 Health
  • News in Brief

    Even without concussions, just one football season may damage players’ brains

    A season of head hits left its mark on college football players’ brains, even when those hits didn’t cause concussions. Routine head bumps over the course of a season were linked to abnormal brain tissue in part of players’ brain stems, researchers report August 7 in Science Advances.It’s unclear if these brain stem changes affect mental performance, or whether the changes are permanent. But...

    08/12/2019 - 10:28 Health, Neuroscience
  • Soapbox

    Plants don’t have feelings and aren’t conscious, a biologist argues

    Lincoln Taiz is peeved. Over the last decade or so, the retired plant biologist has watched the rise of the field of “plant neurobiology” with growing dismay.

    That controversial field, which debuted in a 2006 article in Trends in Plant Science, is based on the idea that plants — which do not possess brains — nonetheless handle information in ways that resemble sophisticated animal...

    08/12/2019 - 06:00 Neuroscience, Plants, Ecology
  • Rethink

    A proposed space telescope would use Earth’s atmosphere as a lens

    Telescopes keep getting bigger — and more expensive. But what if there were a better way?

    One astronomer has suggested a possible work-around: Turn the entire Earth into a telescope lens by using the planet’s atmosphere to bend and focus light.

    When light from stars hits Earth’s atmosphere, the light bends, or refracts. That bending concentrates the rays, focusing them in a region...

    08/09/2019 - 11:55 Astronomy, Physics
  • News

    Are researchers asking the right questions to prevent mass shootings?

    Two decades ago, two students opened fire at Colorado’s Columbine High School, killing 12 of their classmates and a teacher before turning their guns on themselves. In the aftermath, psychologist James Garbarino interviewed one of the shooters’ parents and brother, in hopes of understanding why a troubled young man would carry out such carnage.

    But Garbarino came up empty. “It’s very...

    08/09/2019 - 08:00 Psychology
  • News

    Exploding stars scattered traces of iron over Antarctic snow

    Iron from outside the solar system has sprinkled down on Antarctica in recent years. Measurements of half a ton of snow turned up interstellar iron deposited within the last two decades, scientists report in a study accepted in Physical Review Letters. That iron comes from the explosions of massive stars, or supernovas, the team says.

    Within the snow, the researchers isolated 10 atoms of...

    08/09/2019 - 06:00 Physics, Astronomy
  • News

    How these tiny insect larvae leap without legs

    No legs? Not a problem. Some pudgy insect larvae can still jump up to 36 times their body length. Now high-speed video reveals how.

    First, a legless, bright orange Asphondylia gall midge larva fastens its body into a fat, lopsided O by meshing together front and rear patches of microscopic fuzz. The rear part of the larva swells, and starts to straighten like a long, overinflating...

    08/08/2019 - 18:20 Biophysics, Animals, Evolution