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  • News in Brief

    A fake organ mimics what happens in the blink of an eye

    AUSTIN, Texas — A new artificial organ gives a new meaning to the phrase “making eyes.”

    For the first time, researchers used human cells to build a model of the surface of the eye that’s equipped with a fake eyelid that mimics blinking. This synthetic eye could be used to study and test treatments for eye diseases, researchers reported February 16 in a news conference at the annual...

    02/20/2018 - 17:15 Biophysics, Technology, Cells
  • Feature

    How to build a human brain

    In a white lab coat and blue latex gloves, Neda Vishlaghi peers through a light microscope at six milky-white blobs. Each is about the size of a couscous grain, bathed in the pale orange broth of a petri dish. With tweezers in one hand and surgical scissors in the other, she deftly snips one tiny clump in half.

    When growing human brains, sometimes you need to do some pruning.

    The...

    02/20/2018 - 15:30 Human Development
  • Science & the Public

    Are computers better than people at predicting who will commit another crime?

    In courtrooms around the United States, computer programs give testimony that helps decide who gets locked up and who walks free.

    These algorithms are criminal recidivism predictors, which use personal information about defendants — like family and employment history — to assess that person’s likelihood of committing future crimes. Judges factor those risk ratings into verdicts on...

    02/20/2018 - 09:00 Computing, Science & Society
  • It's Alive

    The flowers that give us chocolate are ridiculously hard to pollinate

    It’s a wonder we have chocolate at all. Talk about persnickety, difficult flowers.

    Arguably some of the most important seeds on the planet — they give us candy bars and hot cocoa, after all — come from pods created by dime-sized flowers on cacao trees. Yet those flowers make pollination just barely possible.

    Growers of commercial fruit crops expect 50 to 60 percent of flowers to...

    02/20/2018 - 07:00 Plants, Animals, Agriculture
  • Exhibit

    Modern tech unravels mysteries of Egyptian mummy portraits

    Everybody’s a critic. Even back in second century Egypt.

    While digging in Tebtunis in northern Egypt in the winter of 1899–1900, British archaeologists stumbled upon portraits of affluent Greco-Egyptians placed over the faces of mummies. One grave contained an ink and chalk sketch, a bit larger than a standard sheet of printer paper, of a woman from around the years A.D. 140 to 160. The...

    02/19/2018 - 08:00 Archaeology, Technology, Science & Society
  • Mystery Solved

    Mix of metals in this Picasso sculpture provides clues to its mysterious origins

    AUSTIN, Texas — An analysis of the metals in dozens of Picasso’s bronze sculptures has traced the birthplace of a handful of the works of art to the outskirts of German-occupied Paris during World War II.

    This is the first time that the raw materials of Picasso’s sculptures have been scrutinized in detail, conservation scientist Francesca Casadio of the Art Institute of Chicago said...

    02/19/2018 - 06:00 Technology, Science & Society
  • News in Brief

    Babies can recover language skills after a left-side stroke

    AUSTIN, Texas — Babies’ stroke-damaged brains can pull a mirror trick to recover.

    A stroke on the left side of the brain often damages important language-processing areas. But people who have this stroke just before or after birth recover their language abilities in the mirror image spot on the right side, a study of teens and young adults shows. Those patients all had normal language...

    02/18/2018 - 15:45 Neuroscience
  • News in Brief

    This stick-on patch could keep tabs on stroke patients at home

    AUSTIN, Texas — Stretchy sensors that stick to the throat could track the long-term recovery of stroke survivors.

    These new Band-Aid‒shaped devices contain motion sensors that detect muscle movement and vocal cord vibrations. That sensor data could help doctors diagnose and monitor the effectiveness of certain treatments for post-stroke conditions like difficulty swallowing or talking,...

    02/17/2018 - 16:00 Technology, Health, Biophysics
  • News

    Americans would welcome alien life rather than fear it

    AUSTIN, Texas — If alien microbes crash-land on Earth, they may get a warm welcome.

    When people were asked how they would react to the discovery of extraterrestrial microbial life, they give generally positive responses, researchers reported at a news conference February 16 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

    This suggests that if...

    02/16/2018 - 17:00 Astrobiology, Microbiology, Science & Society
  • News

    Ants practice combat triage and nurse their injured

    View the video

    No wounded left behind — not quite. Ants that have evolved battlefield medevac carry only the moderately wounded home to the nest. There, those lucky injured fighters get fast and effective wound care.

    Insect colonies seething with workers may seem unlikely to stage elaborate rescues of individual fighters. Yet for Matabele ants (Megaponera analis) in sub-Saharan...

    02/16/2018 - 14:14 Animals, Evolution, Ecology