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  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers focus on fake news, neutrinos, and more

    Fighting fake news

    Computer programmers are building deception-detecting algorithms to fight the onslaught of fake news, Maria Temming reported in “People are bad at spotting fake news. Can computer programs do better?"(SN: 8/4/18, p. 22).

    Reader Lou Floyd found the story compelling and troubling. “It points [to] a major problem facing us all today that affects the very foundation of...

    09/19/2018 - 07:15 Science & Society, Health, Particle Physics
  • Editor's Note

    Building big experiments to study very little things

    When I think of an experiment, I think of some flasks, a pipette, maybe an incubator. But to a particle physicist, an experiment can be a machine bigger than a house, designed to study subatomic particles.

    There’s a certain charm to the fact that such vast equipment has to be constructed to study the smallest known bits of matter. The tunnel of the Large Hadron Collider has a...

    09/19/2018 - 07:00 Science & Society, Particle Physics
  • News in Brief

    The TESS space telescope has spotted its first exoplanet

    The next exoplanet hunt is officially on. NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which launched in April (SN: 5/12/18, p. 7), has taken its first wide-sky science image and has confirmed its first exoplanet.

    The “first light” image (the moniker for a new telescope’s first useful image), taken August 7 with all four of the telescope’s cameras and released September 17, shows...

    09/18/2018 - 17:23 Exoplanets
  • Science Ticker

    Early tests pave the way for a giant neutrino detector

    An enormous future particle detector is now within closer reach. The first data from a prototype experiment hint that scientists may have what it takes to build the planned neutrino detector.

    Known as the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, or DUNE, the experiment will use 70,000 metric tons of liquefied argon to study the secrets of these neutrinos — bizarre, nearly massless particles...

    09/18/2018 - 14:41 Particle Physics
  • For Daily Use

    A sensor inspired by an African thumb piano could root out bogus medicines

    Identifying faulty drugs or diagnosing kidney problems could one day be as simple as playing an instrument and analyzing the sound.

    An inexpensive, handheld tool inspired by an ancient African instrument called an mbira, or thumb piano, can distinguish between liquids of different densities, researchers report online September 12 in ACS Omega. That could help pharmacists and consumers...

    09/18/2018 - 11:10 Technology, Health
  • Reviews & Previews

    Smart plants can teach us a thing or two

    The Revolutionary Genius of PlantsStefano MancusoAtria Books, $30

    More than 200 years ago, French botanist René Desfontaines instructed a student to monitor the behavior of Mimosa pudica plants as he drove them around Paris in a carriage. Mimosa pudica quickly closes its leaves when touched — presumably as a defense mechanism. Desfontaines was interested in the plants’ response to...

    09/18/2018 - 07:00 Plants, Evolution, Biophysics
  • News in Brief

    Here’s how clumps of honeybees may survive blowing in the wind

    A stiff breeze is no match for a clump of honeybees, and now scientists are beginning to understand why.

    When scouting out a new home, the bees tend to cluster together on tree branches or other surfaces, forming large, hanging clumps which help keep the insects safe from the elements. To keep the clump together, individual honeybees change their positions, fine-tuning the cluster’s...

    09/17/2018 - 11:00 Biophysics
  • Science Visualized

    The ghosts of nearly two dozen icy volcanoes haunt dwarf planet Ceres

    Scientists have spotted the ghosts of nearly two dozen ice volcanoes on dwarf planet Ceres.

    Found using topographic maps from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, the slumped remains of once-grand cones suggest that Ceres has experienced continual eruptions for billions of years, the researchers report September 17 in Nature Astronomy.

    When Dawn arrived at Ceres in 2015, scientists noticed just...

    09/17/2018 - 11:00 Planetary Science
  • News in Brief

    Here’s how many U.S. kids are vaping marijuana

    More than 2 million U.S. middle and high school students — or nearly 1 in 11 — have vaped marijuana, a new study suggests.

    Of those students who reported e-cigarette use in 2016, researchers estimate that nearly 1 in 3 high school students, or roughly 1.7 million, have used pot in the devices. Nearly 1 in 4 middle school students who reported vaping, or 425,000, have done the same, the...

    09/17/2018 - 11:00 Health
  • Rethink

    A recount of human genes ups the number to at least 46,831

    Figuring out how many genes are in the human genetic instruction manual, or genome, isn’t as easy as scientists once thought. The very definition of a gene has changed since the completion of the Human Genome Project more than 15 years ago.

    Genes used to be defined as stretches of DNA that contain instructions that are copied into RNA and then turned into proteins. Researchers still don’...

    09/17/2018 - 07:00 Genetics