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  • Editor's Note

    The power of great editors, their lessons and legacy

    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

    Readers respond to pesticides, Hawking radiation and more

    Pesky pesticides

    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...

    05/30/2018 - 07:00 Science & Society, Physics, Animals
  • News in Brief

    Hurricane Maria killed at least 4,645 people in Puerto Rico, a study estimates

    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...

    05/29/2018 - 17:04 Health, Science & Society
  • Reviews & Previews

    The history of heredity makes for a fascinating, and chilling, read

    She Has Her Mother’s LaughCarl ZimmerDutton, $30

    The Elephant Man, novelist Pearl S. Buck and Phoebus, god of the sun, all find their way into science writer Carl Zimmer’s latest book. In She Has Her Mother’s Laugh, Zimmer uses famous moments in history — and Greek mythology — to explain genetics and how researchers have come to understand heredity and try to manipulate it.

    ...

    05/29/2018 - 09:00 Genetics, History of Science, Science & Society
  • News in Brief

    Fleets of self-driving taxis could be choreographed to cut traffic

    Self-driving taxis that use an algorithm to work together like a well-oiled machine could someday cut down on city traffic.

    Researchers have created a computer program that can continually analyze incoming ride-hailing requests sent from a smartphone app and plot the most efficient course for each car in a self-driving fleet to take (SN Online: 11/21/17). Unlike standard taxis, which...

    05/23/2018 - 13:00 Technology, Science & Society
  • News

    Genetic sleuthing again IDs a murder suspect in a cold case

    For the second time in less than a month, DNA probes of family trees in a public database have helped police catch a murder suspect.

    On May 17, detectives in Washington arrested 55-year-old William Earl Talbott II of Seatac for the 1987 double murder of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg. A new DNA sleuthing technique called genetic genealogy led to Talbott’s capture. His arrest came just...

    05/23/2018 - 10:42 Genetics, Ancestry, Science & Society
  • Feature

    Consumer DNA testing promises more than it delivers

    In Nevada, 40,000 people are stepping up to the cutting edge of precision medicine. They are getting their DNA deciphered by the testing company Helix. The idea of the Healthy Nevada project is to link genetic and medical data with information about the environment to get a clearer picture of all the factors that influence health. The free tests are going like hot cakes.

    When the Healthy...

    05/22/2018 - 12:00 Genetics, Science & Society
  • News

    Gun owner or not, Americans agree on many ways to limit gun violence

    Despite a public debate that grows more fractious with every school shooting — from Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., to Parkland, Fla., and the latest deadly attack May 18 in Santa Fe, Texas — Americans actually agree on gun policy to a surprising extent.  

    According to a new survey of more than 2,100 people, majorities of both gun owners and nonowners support 15 potential gun...

    05/21/2018 - 13:23 Psychology, Science & Society
  • For Daily Use

    The CDC advises: Don’t swallow the water in a hotel swimming pool

    It’s vacation season — time for swimming pools, hot tubs and water parks. But you might want to think twice before getting wet, says a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    From 2000 to 2014, public health officials from 46 states and Puerto Rico reported 493 outbreaks associated with treated recreational water, resulting in more than 27,000 illnesses and...

    05/18/2018 - 07:00 Health, Science & Society
  • Editor's Note

    We’ve got the genes for science journalism

    Before visiting my parents for spring break, I thought, “Gee, wouldn’t it be fun if I bought them those genetic ancestry kits?” But I never got around to making that purchase, and after reading Tina Hesman Saey’s cover story in this issue, I realize I might have inadvertently made a wise decision.

    Consumer DNA test kits have become wildly popular, with millions of people hoping for...

    05/16/2018 - 07:15 Science & Society, Genetics