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  • News

    Cilia in the brain may be busier than previously thought

    Nerve cells in the brain make elaborate connections and exchange lightning-quick messages that captivate scientists. But these cells also sport simpler, hairlike protrusions called cilia. Long overlooked, the little stubs may actually have big jobs in the brain.

    Researchers are turning up roles for nerve cell cilia in a variety of brain functions. In a region of the brain linked to...

    01/19/2018 - 13:16 Neuroscience, Genetics
  • News

    Light pollution can prolong the risk of sparrows passing along West Nile virus

    SAN FRANCISCO — Even moderate light pollution can roughly double the time a house sparrow remains a risk for passing along the worrisome West Nile virus.

    House sparrows, about as widespread across the United States as artificial lighting itself, make a useful test species for a first-of-its-kind study of how night illumination might contribute to disease spread, said Meredith Kernbach,...

    01/19/2018 - 09:00 Physiology, Animals, Conservation
  • News

    Hunter-gatherer lifestyle could help explain superior ability to ID smells

    Smell has a reputation as a second-rate human sense. But that assumption stinks once hunter-gatherers enter the picture.

    Semaq Beri hunter-gatherers, who live in tropical forests on the eastern side of the Malay Peninsula in Southeast Asia, name various odors as easily as they name colors, say psycholinguist Asifa Majid and linguist Nicole Kruspe. Yet Semelai rice farmers, who live in...

    01/18/2018 - 12:00 Anthropology, Genetics
  • News

    Not all strep infections are alike and it may have nothing to do with you

    One person infected with strep bacteria might get a painful sore throat; another might face a life-threatening blood infection. Now, scientists are trying to pin down why.

    Variation between individuals’ immune systems may not be entirely to blame. Instead, extra genes picked up by some pathogens can cause different strains to have wildly different effects on the immune system, even in...

    01/11/2018 - 14:40 Health, Genetics, Immune Science
  • News in Brief

    CRISPR gene editor could spark immune reaction in people

    Immune reactions against proteins commonly used as molecular scissors might make CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing ineffective in people, a new study suggests.

    About 79 percent of 34 blood donors tested had antibodies against the Cas9 protein from Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, Stanford University researchers report January 5 at bioRxiv.org. About 65 percent of donors had antibodies against the...

    01/09/2018 - 06:00 Genetics, Immune Science
  • News

    Blowflies use drool to keep their cool

    SAN FRANCISCO — Blowflies don’t sweat, but they have raised cooling by drooling to a high art.

    In hot times, sturdy, big-eyed Chrysomya megacephala flies repeatedly release — and then retract — a droplet of saliva, Denis Andrade reported January 4 at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. This process isn’t sweating. Blowfly droplets put the cooling...

    01/05/2018 - 18:04 Animals, Physiology
  • News

    A key virus fighter is implicated in pregnancy woes

    An immune system mainstay in the fight against viruses may harm rather than help a pregnancy. In Zika-infected mice, this betrayal appears to contribute to fetal abnormalities  linked to the virus, researchers report online January 5 in Science Immunology. And it could explain pregnancy complications that arise from infections with other pathogens and from autoimmune disorders.

    In...

    01/05/2018 - 15:41 Development, Immune Science
  • It's Alive

    Robot fish shows how the deepest vertebrate in the sea takes the pressure

    It’s like having “an elephant stand on your thumb.”

    That’s how deep-sea physiologist and ecologist Mackenzie Gerringer describes the pressure squeezing down on the deepest known living fish, some 8 kilometers down. What may help these small, pale Mariana snailfish survive elephantine squashing, says Gerringer of the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Labs, is a body bulked up,...

    01/03/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Biophysics, Physiology
  • 50 years ago, synthetic DNA made its debut

    Viable synthetic DNA

    [Scientists] produced in a test tube a totally artificial copy of a type of DNA virus.… The particular type of viral DNA (called Phi X174) the researchers made is an extremely simple molecule of only five or six genes. Their achievement, however, lays the foundation for eventual synthesis of more complex DNAs. — Science News, December 30, 1967

    Update

    As...

    12/28/2017 - 07:00 Genetics, Microbiology, Cells
  • Soapbox

    The man flu struggle might be real, says one researcher

    Cold weather often brings with it hot takes on so-called man flu. That’s the phenomenon in which the flu hits men harder than women — or, depending on who you ask, when men exaggerate regular cold symptoms into flu symptoms. In time for the 2017–2018 flu season, one researcher has examined the scientific evidence for and against man flu.

    “The concept of man flu, as commonly defined, is...

    12/22/2017 - 12:00 Health, Immune Science