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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
  • News in Brief

    Magnets make a new soft metamaterial stiffen up in a flash

    Magnetism transforms a weird new material from soft to rigid in a split second.

    This metamaterial — a synthetic structure designed to behave in ways that natural materials don’t — comprises a gridlike network of plastic tubes filled with fluid that becomes more viscous in a magnetic field, causing the tubes to firm up. The material could help make more adaptable robots or body armor,...

    12/07/2018 - 14:00 Materials
  • Feature

    A gut-brain link for Parkinson’s gets a closer look

    Martha Carlin married the love of her life in 1995. She and John Carlin had dated briefly in college in Kentucky, then lost touch until a chance meeting years later at a Dallas pub. They wed soon after and had two children. John worked as an entrepreneur and stay-at-home dad. In his free time, he ran marathons.

    Almost eight years into their marriage, the pinky finger on John’s right hand...

    12/07/2018 - 09:00 Health, Neuroscience, Microbiology
  • Reviews & Previews

    Two new books explore the science and history of the 1918 flu pandemic

    The U.S.S. Leviathan set sail from Hoboken, N.J., on September 29, 1918, carrying roughly 10,000 troops and 2,000 crewmen. The ship, bound for the battlefields in France, had been at sea less than 24 hours when the first passengers fell ill. By the end of the day, 700 people had developed signs of the flu.

    The medical staff tried to separate the sick from the healthy, but that soon...

    12/07/2018 - 07:00 Health, History of Science, Microbiology
  • News in Brief

    Global carbon dioxide emissions will hit a record high in 2018

    Global carbon dioxide emissions are expected to hit a record high in 2018, despite urgent calls from climate scientists and international groups such as the United Nations to cut back.

    Worldwide, fossil fuel use is projected to pump 2.7 percent more CO2 into the atmosphere in 2018 compared with 2017. Last year, such emissions contributed 9.9 gigatons of carbon. The data are presented in...

    12/06/2018 - 18:09 Climate, Sustainability, Science & Society
  • News

    The uterus may play a role in memory

    The uterus is best known for its baby-growing job. But the female organ may also have an unexpected role in memory, a study in rats suggests.

    The results, published online December 6 in Endocrinology, counter the idea that the nonpregnant uterus is an extraneous organ. That may have implications for the estimated 20 million women in the United States who have had hysterectomies.

    In...

    12/06/2018 - 14:02 Neuroscience
  • News

    Volcanic eruptions that depleted ocean oxygen may have set off the Great Dying

    A massive series of volcanic eruptions in Earth’s distant past left ocean creatures gasping for breath. Greenhouse gases emitted by the volcanoes dramatically lowered oxygen levels in the oceans, a deadly scenario that may have been the main culprit in the Great Dying, researchers report.

    Earth scientist Justin Penn of the University of Washington in Seattle and colleagues mapped out...

    12/06/2018 - 14:00 Oceans, Climate, Earth, Paleontology
  • News

    Here’s how geckos (almost) walk on water

    Add water aerobics to the list of the agile gecko’s athletic accomplishments.

    In addition to sticking to smooth walls and swinging from leaves, geckos can skitter along the surface of water. By slapping the water with all four limbs to create air bubbles and exploiting the surface tension of water, the reptiles can travel at speeds close to what they can achieve on land, according to a...

    12/06/2018 - 11:17 Animals
  • News

    A 5,000-year-old mass grave harbors the oldest plague bacteria ever found

    A long-dead Scandinavian woman has yielded bacterial DNA showing that she contracted the earliest known case of the plague in humans.

    DNA extracted from the woman’s teeth comes from a newly identified ancient strain of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague, the oldest ever found. The woman’s bones, which date from 5,040 to 4,867 years ago, were found nearly 20 years ago in a...

    12/06/2018 - 11:00 Genetics, Anthropology, Microbiology
  • News in Brief

    Pea aphid youngsters use piggyback rides to escape a crisis

    First it’s mammal bad breath. Then it’s babies pestering for piggyback rides. A near-death experience is tough on pea aphids.

    When warm, moist breath signals that some cow or other giant is about to chomp into foliage, tiny green aphids feeding on that foliage drop toward the ground by the hundreds (SN Online: 8/10/10). “It literally rains aphids,” says ecologist Moshe Gish, who in 2010...

    12/05/2018 - 20:00 Animals, Ecology