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  • Science Ticker

    Plate tectonics started at least 3.5 billion years ago

    Plate tectonics may have gotten a pretty early start in Earth’s history. Most estimates put the onset of when the large plates that make up the planet’s outer crust began shifting at around 3 billion years ago. But a new study in the Sept. 22 Science that analyzes titanium in continental rocks asserts that plate tectonics began 500 million years earlier. 

    Nicolas Greber, now at the...

    09/21/2017 - 15:12 Earth
  • News

    Ultrahigh energy cosmic rays come from outside the Milky Way

    View the video

    The largest study yet of the most energetic particles to slam into Earth provides the first solid clues to where the particles come from. Using a giant array of tubs of water, scientists found that these ultrahigh energy cosmic rays mostly originate outside the Milky Way.

    An international team analyzed about 12 years of data to show that particles with energies above...

    09/21/2017 - 14:00 Astronomy, Particle Physics
  • News

    Shhhh! Some plant-eating dinos snacked on crunchy critters

    Some dinosaurs liked to cheat on their vegetarian diet.

    Based on the shape of their teeth and jaws, large plant-eating dinosaurs are generally thought to have been exclusively herbivorous. But for one group of dinosaurs, roughly 75-million-year-old poop tells another story. Their fossilized droppings, or coprolites, contained tiny fragments of mollusk and other crustacean shells along...

    09/21/2017 - 09:00 Paleontology, Animals
  • News

    Intense storms provide the first test of powerful new hurricane forecast tools

    This year’s Atlantic hurricane season has already proven to be active and deadly. Powerful hurricanes such as Harvey, Irma and Maria are also providing a testing ground for new tools that scientists hope will save lives by improving forecasts in various ways, from narrowing a storm’s future path to capturing swift changes in the intensity of storm winds.

    Some of the tools that debuted...

    09/21/2017 - 08:07 Earth, Climate
  • News

    This newfound hermit crab finds shelter in corals, not shells

    A new species of hermit crab discovered in the shallow waters of southern Japan has been enjoying the perks of living like a peanut worm. Like the worms, the 7- to 8-millimeter-long hermit crab uses corals as a covering, researchers report September 20 in PLOS ONE.

    Other kinds of hermit crabs live in coral reefs, but typically move in and out of a series of mollusk shells as the crabs...

    09/20/2017 - 14:57 Animals, Ecology
  • News

    By ganging up, HIV antibodies may defeat the virus

    For certain HIV antibodies, having a buddy or two makes a big difference in the fight against the virus.

    Combining the antibodies, called broadly neutralizing antibodies, may stop more strains of HIV than any single one can do alone, two new studies suggest. A “triple-threat” antibody molecule can bind to three different spots on the virus, researchers report online September 20 in...

    09/20/2017 - 14:30 Biomedicine, Immune Science
  • News

    In a first, human embryos edited to explore gene function

    For the first time, researchers have disabled a gene in human embryos to learn about its function.

    Using molecular scissors called CRISPR/Cas9, researchers made crippling cuts in the OCT4 gene, Kathy Niakan and colleagues report September 20 in Nature. The edits revealed a surprising role for the gene in the development of the placenta.

    Researchers commonly delete and disable genes...

    09/20/2017 - 13:24 Genetics, Development, Science & Society
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers ponder mini-spacecraft and Canaanites’ genomes

    Spritely voyage

    Engineers recently launched prototypes of miniature spacecraft. The prototypes, each a single circuit board, include solar panels, radios, thermometers and gyroscopes, Maria Temming reported in “These chip-sized spacecraft are the smallest space probes yet” (SN: 9/2/17, p. 5).

    “Does the gyroscope actually stabilize the chip, or just provide information that can be signaled...

    09/20/2017 - 13:00 Astronomy, Anthropology
  • Editor's Note

    Nature offers inspiration, and occasionally courage

    When Donald Griffin and Robert Galambos first reported that bats use the ricocheting echoes of sound waves to pilot through the environment, some scientists doubted it was possible. The team’s experiments, conducted in the late 1930s at Harvard University and reported in the early 1940s, coincided with World War II and the proliferation of active sonar systems for use on ships and submarines...

    09/20/2017 - 12:47 Technology, Animals, Humans & Society
  • September 30, 2017

    09/20/2017 - 12:46