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  • Reviews & Previews

    These are our favorite science books of 2018

    From tales about whales to enthralling scientific histories and the memoir of a frustrated astrophysicist, 2018 was a banner year for science books. Here are Science News’ picks for the titles that should be on any science lover’s bookshelf. Find detailed reviews of many of these books in the links below and in our Editor’s Pick: Favorite books of 2018.

    The Truth About AnimalsLucy...

    12/09/2018 - 09:00 Science & Society
  • Reviews & Previews

    Explore the history of blood from vampires to the ‘Menstrual Man’

    Nine PintsRose GeorgeMetropolitan Books, $30

    The title of journalist Rose George’s new book, Nine Pints, quantifies how much blood George has flowing through her body. Her supply takes a temporary dip in the book’s opening chapter, when she donates about a pint (a story that continues on to recap the amazing accomplishment that is blood banking). This act of generosity is an...

    10/16/2018 - 09:00 Physiology, Health, History of Science
  • Reviews & Previews

    Got an environmental problem? Beavers could be the solution

    EagerBen GoldfarbChelsea Green Publishing, $24.95

    Most people probably don’t think of beavers until one has chewed through the trunk of a favorite tree or dammed up a nearby creek and flooded a yard or nearby road. Beavers are pests, in this view, on par with other members of the order Rodentia. But a growing number of scientists and citizens are recognizing the merits of these...

    07/27/2018 - 10:49 Animals, Ecology, Conservation
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘The Poisoned City’ chronicles Flint’s water crisis

    The Poisoned CityAnna ClarkMetropolitan Books, $30

    America is built on lead. Networks of aging pipes made from the bluish-gray metal bring water into millions of U.S. homes. But when lead, a poison to the nervous system, gets into drinking water — as happened in Flint, Mich. — the heavy metal can cause irreparable harm (SN: 3/19/16, p. 8). In The Poisoned City, journalist Anna Clark...

    07/17/2018 - 07:00 Health, Toxicology, Science & Society
  • Reviews & Previews

    The study of human heredity got its start in insane asylums

    Genetics in the MadhouseTheodore M. PorterPrinceton Univ., $35

    England’s King George III descended into mental chaos, or what at the time was called madness, in 1789. Physicians could not say whether he would recover or if a replacement should assume the throne. That political crisis jump-started the study of human heredity.

    Using archival records, science historian Theodore M...

    07/01/2018 - 08:00 Genetics, History of Science, Mental Health, Numbers
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Spying on Whales’ dives into the story of true leviathans

    Spying on WhalesNick PyensonViking, $27

    Just before humans evolved, whales and dolphins were, pound for pound, the brainiest creatures on Earth. Another cetacean superlative: Today’s biggest whales are heftier than the largest dinosaurs that ever lived. The evolutionary trends that produced big, brainy marine animals are just a few of the fascinating tales told in Spying on Whales...

    06/29/2018 - 12:00 Animals, Evolution, Paleontology
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Aroused’ recounts the fascinating history of hormones

    ArousedRandi Hutter EpsteinW.W. Norton & Co., $26.95

    The first scientific experiment on hormones took an approach that sounds unscientific: lopping off roosters’ testicles. It was 1848, and Dr. Arnold Berthold castrated two of his backyard roosters. The cocks’ red combs faded and shrank, and the birds stopped chasing hens.

    Then things got really weird. The doctor castrated...

    06/25/2018 - 16:10 Biomedicine, Health, History of Science, Science & Society
  • Reviews & Previews

    The history of heredity makes for a fascinating, and chilling, read

    She Has Her Mother’s LaughCarl ZimmerDutton, $30

    The Elephant Man, novelist Pearl S. Buck and Phoebus, god of the sun, all find their way into science writer Carl Zimmer’s latest book. In She Has Her Mother’s Laugh, Zimmer uses famous moments in history — and Greek mythology — to explain genetics and how researchers have come to understand heredity and try to manipulate it.

    ...

    05/29/2018 - 09:00 Genetics, History of Science, Science & Society
  • Reviews & Previews

    Why the Nobel Prize might need a makeover

    Losing the Nobel PrizeBrian KeatingW.W. Norton & Co., $27.95

    Dust may seem insignificant, but in science, it can cost you a Nobel Prize.

    That’s what happened to Brian Keating, a major contributor to the BICEP2 team that claimed in 2014 to have found the first definitive evidence of cosmic inflation (SN: 4/5/14, p. 6), a period of extremely rapid expansion just after the...

    04/02/2018 - 09:00 Cosmology, History of Science, Astronomy
  • Reviews & Previews

    The truth about animals isn’t always pretty

    The Truth About AnimalsLucy CookeBasic Books, $28

    Nearly 2,000 years ago, Pliny the Elder reported that hippopotamuses find relief from overeating by piercing their skin in a hippo version of bloodletting. Eventually, scientists learned that the oozing red stuff Pliny described isn’t even blood but a secretion that may have antibacterial and sun-blocking properties. While...

    04/01/2018 - 08:00 Animals, History of Science