The #MeToo movement has revealed sexual and gender harassment in every corner of American life. Science hasn’t been immune. High profile cases — such as decades’ worth of complaints against astronomer Geoff Marcy, and allegations that geologist David Marchant verbally and physically abused women scientists in Antarctica — make headlines. But it is the often underreported gender harassment,...
Faced with a growing outcry against separating migrant children from their families at the U.S. border — including this statement from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine — President Trump reversed course June 20 and issued an executive order aimed at keeping detained families together.
Scientists, armed with evidence that traumatic events early in life can have...
Michael Douglas, a new resident of southern Maryland, credits genetic testing for helping him find his heritage — and a family he knew very little about.
Douglas, 43, is adopted. He knew his birth mother’s name and had seen a birth certificate stating his birth name: Thomas Michael McCarthy. Over the years, Douglas had tried off and on to find his birth family, mostly by looking for his...
Emmy Noether may be the most influential mathematician you’ve never heard of.06/12/2018 - 07:15 History of Science, Science & Society, Physics
In 1918, she solved a puzzle in Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. To do that, she created a mathematical theorem that changed forever how scientists study the universe, one that remains a guiding star for theoretical physics.
Not only was she a scientific pioneer, Noether was by all...
Police are using a new type of DNA sleuthing, called genetic genealogy. Already the technique has caught murder and rape suspects in California and Washington. While solving the cases has given cause for celebration, the tactics used in catching the alleged culprits have many privacy and civil rights experts worried.
Closing the Golden State Killer case (SN Online: 4/29/18) and the...
Science & the Public
For a few hundred dollars and a spit sample, you too could take a journey of genetic self-discovery. You may learn some things, but what are you giving away?
Today, hundreds of companies offer to analyze your DNA, or parts of it, to let you in on everything from your health risks and ancestry to more dubious traits like intelligence or athletic ability (SN: 5/26/18, p. 20). The direct-to...
An account of another alleged “sonic attack” has surfaced, this time from a U.S. government employee in China. The employee reported “subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure,” according to a U.S. Embassy health alert. The episode mirrors reports from American diplomats in Cuba in late 2016, and fuels the debate among scientists about what, if anything, is actually...
Wouldn’t it be grand to have a test that could predict our risk of dreaded diseases like cancer? Signs of such a future exist, but it’s not here yet, as senior writer Tina Hesman Saey explains in the second of our three-part series on direct-to-consumer genetic testing. The tests available today fall short in delivering what we would actually want to know. The raw data are gibberish...05/30/2018 - 07:15 Science & Society, Genetics
Letters to the Editor
Pesky pesticides05/30/2018 - 07:00 Science & Society, Physics, Animals
Researchers are tracking tiny insects to learn how animals move around the planet, Alexandra Witze reported in “Flying insects tell tales of long-distance migrations” (SN: 4/14/18, p. 22).
“There are several uncritical references to using pesticides to combat insect pests” in the story, reader Christina Gullion wrote.
Gullion noted that pesticides can be...
News in Brief
Hurricane Maria and its chaotic aftermath in Puerto Rico led to at least 4,645 deaths, according to a new estimate based on household surveys. That’s thousands more than the 64 official storm-related deaths counted from death certificates.
The Category 5 storm hit the U.S. Caribbean territory on September 20, 2017, bringing down trees, houses and the electricity system. From then until...