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  • News in Brief

    Bats are the main cause of rare rabies deaths in the U.S.

    In the United States, the landscape of rabies transmission has shifted over the last 70 years. 

    Following a massive campaign to vaccinate dogs starting in 1947, rabies deaths linked to dog bites and scratches have dropped, and those from wild animals now carry a greater share of the blame. Since 1960, bats have caused 62, or roughly 70 percent, of the 89 deaths from rabies exposure that...

    06/12/2019 - 13:14 Animals, Health
  • News in Brief

    Astronomers may have spotted the ghost galaxy that hit the Milky Way long ago

    The Milky Way survived a galactic hit and run millions of years ago — and astronomers may have finally found the culprit. 

    Ten years ago, astrophysicists Sukanya Chakrabarti and Leo Blitz of the University of California, Berkeley, suggested that ripples in the outer gas disk of the Milky Way were caused by a collision with a dwarf galaxy that shook the Milky Way’s gas like a pebble...

    06/12/2019 - 12:00 Astronomy
  • News

    Extra fingers, often seen as useless, can offer major dexterity advantages

    An extra finger can be incredibly handy. Two people born with six fingers per hand can tie their shoes, adroitly manage phones and play a complicated video game — all with a single hand, a study shows.

    These people’s superior dexterity, described June 3 in Nature Communications, suggests that instead of being seen as aberrations that ought to be surgically removed, extra fingers can...

    06/12/2019 - 07:00 Health, Neuroscience
  • News

    A tiny crater on viruses behind the common cold may be their Achilles’ heel

    A newly discovered indentation on the surface of viruses that cause many illnesses, including the common cold, could be their Achilles’ heel — and a possible target for effective drugs.

    When scientists tested antiviral compounds on cells grown in the lab, the team found one that blocked the replication of an enterovirus. Cryo-electron microscopy revealed that the compound binds to and...

    06/11/2019 - 14:00 Health
  • News

    These knotted cords may hide the first evidence that the Incas collected taxes

    While excavating an Inca outpost on Peru’s southern coast, archaeologist Alejandro Chu and his colleagues uncovered some twisted surprises.

    In 2013, the scientists were digging in one of four rooms lining the entrance to what had been a massive storage structure, and they started finding sets of colored and knotted strings poking through the ground. Known as khipus, these odd Inca...

    06/11/2019 - 07:00 Archaeology
  • News

    Genealogy companies could struggle to keep clients’ data from police

    After police used DNA sleuthing techniques to arrest a teenage suspect in Utah accused of assault, a public genealogy website shut off most police access in May, following public outcry. That move by GEDMatch to protect the privacy of its users could backfire, some experts warn, creating more privacy issues, not fewer. 

    Forensic genetic genealogy — the use of genetic databases by police...

    06/10/2019 - 12:00 Genetics, Science & Society
  • News

    Some fungi trade phosphorus with plants like savvy stockbrokers

    Some stringy fungi are tough negotiators, trading nutrients shrewdly with plants.

    An advance in tracking the nutrient phosphorus has revealed new details of ancient trading networks between fungi and plants. Some fungal species grow what are called arbuscular mycorrhizal connections underground, reaching intimately into plant roots. These fungi pull phosphorus from the soil and trade it...

    06/10/2019 - 10:00 Fungi, Plants, Ecology
  • News in Brief

    The U.S. is still using many pesticides that are banned in other countries

    Compared with other global agricultural powerhouses, the United States has lax restrictions on potentially harmful pesticides, a study suggests.

    An analysis of agricultural pesticide regulations reveals that the United States widely uses several chemicals that are banned or being phased out in the European Union, Brazil and China — three of the world’s other leading pesticide users.

    ...
    06/10/2019 - 08:00 Agriculture, Science & Society
  • Reviews & Previews

    Carbon plays a starring role in the new book ‘Symphony in C’

    Symphony in CRobert M. HazenW.W. Norton & Co., $26.95

    Carbon is by no means the most abundant element in the cosmos, but it is undoubtedly the most important to life as we know it. For every 1,000 hydrogen atoms in the universe, there are only five or so carbon atoms. But every cell in the human body — indeed, every living cell on Earth — relies on carbon as the chemical...

    06/10/2019 - 06:00 Chemistry, Evolution, Cosmology, Ecosystems
  • News in Brief

    Medicaid-expanding states had fewer cardiovascular deaths than other states

    States that expanded eligibility for Medicaid insurance coverage saw fewer deaths related to cardiovascular disease than if they hadn’t broadened the program’s reach, a new study shows. It’s another indication that Medicaid expansion, part of the Affordable Care Act, appears to be improving public health.

    Counties in states with expanded eligibility had 4.3 fewer cardiovascular-related...

    06/07/2019 - 13:00 Health