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  • News in Brief

    The Parker Solar Probe takes its first up-close look at the sun

    NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has met the sun and lived to tell the tale.

    The sun-grazing spacecraft has already broken the records for the fastest space probe and the nearest brush any spacecraft has made with the sun. Now the probe is sending data back from its close solar encounter, scientists reported December 12 at the American Geophysical Union meeting in Washington, D.C.

    “What...

    12/12/2018 - 17:49 Astronomy
  • News

    Hybrid rice engineered with CRISPR can clone its seeds

    After more than 20 years of theorizing about it, scientists have tweaked a hybrid variety of rice so that some of the plants produce cloned seeds. No plant sex necessary. The feat, described December 12 in Nature, is encouraging for efforts to feed an increasingly crowded world.

    Crossing two good varieties of grain can make one fabulous one, combining the best versions of genes to give...

    12/12/2018 - 15:52 Plants, Genetics, Sustainability
  • News

    Babies born in opioid withdrawal have unusually small heads

    Babies born dependent on opioids have smaller heads than babies not exposed to the drugs in the womb.

    The finding, published online December 10 in Pediatrics, raises concerns that the drugs are impairing brain growth during development. And it highlights questions about the safest approach to managing opioid addiction during pregnancy, researchers say.

    Pregnant women who use...

    12/12/2018 - 15:25 Health
  • Growth Curve

    Many babies are crummy sleepers, confirming what millions of parents already know

    I love to hate the phrase “sleep like a baby.” It’s a beautiful example of a saying that’s based on the exact opposite of what it’s intended to convey. Babies (many of them, anyway) are rotten sleepers.

    During my last pregnancy, I wondered if I might luck out with a good sleeper. Or at least an average sleeper. But my third little sweetie didn’t deliver. At nearly 8 months, he (and I)...

    12/12/2018 - 08:00 Child Development, Parenting
  • News

    ‘Little Foot’ skeleton analysis reignites debate over the hominid’s species

    A nearly complete hominid skeleton known as Little Foot has finally been largely freed from the stony shell in which it was discovered in a South African cave more than 20 years ago. And in the first formal analyses of the fossils, researchers say the 3.67-million-year-old Little Foot belonged to its own species.

    In four papers posted online at bioRxiv.org between November 29 and...

    12/12/2018 - 06:00 Human Evolution, Anthropology
  • Rethink

    Nearly 200 Great Barrier Reef coral species also live in the deep sea

    Nearly 200 species of Great Barrier Reef corals have found a second home in the deep ocean. That’s six times as many species as previously thought to be living in the dark, cold waters off northeastern Australia, researchers report December 11 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

    Perhaps more important than the number of species cataloged at those depths is the fact that every coral...

    12/11/2018 - 19:05 Animals, Oceans, Climate
  • News

    Here’s what was surprising about Kilauea’s 3-month-long eruption

    WASHINGTON — After a stunningly explosive summer, Kilauea, the world’s longest continuously erupting volcano, finally seems to have taken a break. But the scientists studying it haven’t. Reams of new data collected during an unprecedented opportunity to monitor an ongoing, accessible eruption are changing what’s known about how some volcanoes behave.

    “It was hugely significant,” says...

    12/11/2018 - 18:39 Earth
  • News in Brief

    Biologists are one step closer to creating snake venom in the lab

    SAN DIEGO — Labs growing replicas of snakes’ venom glands may one day replace snake farms.

    Researchers in the Netherlands have succeeded in growing mimics of venom-producing glands from multiple species of snakes. Stem cell biologist Hans Clevers of the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht, the Netherlands, reported the creation of these organoids on December 10 at a joint meeting of the...

    12/11/2018 - 14:08 Cells
  • News

    A new way to turn saltwater fresh can kill germs and avoid gunk buildup

    A new design for sun-powered desalination technology may lead to longer-lasting devices that produce cleaner water.

    The trick boils down to preventing a device’s components from touching the saltwater. Instead, a lid of light-absorbing material rests above a partially filled basin of water, absorbing sunlight and radiating that energy to the liquid below. That evaporates the water to...

    12/11/2018 - 11:00 Technology, Sustainability
  • News

    The list of extreme weather caused by human-driven climate change grows

    WASHINGTON – A months-long heat wave that scorched the Tasman Sea beginning in November of 2017 is the latest example of an extreme event that would not have happened without human-caused climate change.

    Climate change also increased the likelihood of 15 other extreme weather events in 2017, from droughts in East Africa and the U.S. northern Plains states to floods in Bangladesh, China...

    12/11/2018 - 10:41 Climate