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  • News

    Nerve cells from people with autism grow unusually big and fast

    Young nerve cells derived from people with autism are precocious, growing bigger and developing sooner than cells taken from people without autism, a new study shows.

    The results, described January 7 in Nature Neuroscience, hint that in some cases nerve cells veer off course early in brain development to ultimately cause the disorder.

    As a proxy of brain growth, researchers led by...

    01/11/2019 - 06:00 Neuroscience
  • News

    Poison toilet paper reveals how termites help rainforests resist drought

    It took hundreds of teabags and thousands of rolls of toilet paper for tropical ecologist Kate Parr and her colleagues to demonstrate that termites help tropical rainforests resist drought. Forests with more termites show more soil moisture, leaf litter decomposition and seedling survival during a drought than forests with fewer termites, the scientists report January 10 in Science.

    The...

    01/10/2019 - 14:00 Animals, Ecosystems
  • News in Brief

    Floating seabirds provide a novel way to trace ocean currents

    Seabirds are like feathered buoys. Gently rafting on the ocean’s surface, these birds go with the flow, making them excellent proxies for tracking changes in a current’s speed and direction.

    Oceanographers traditionally use radar, floating buoys or autonomous underwater vehicles to measure ocean current velocities, which can affect the climate, ecosystems and the movement of important...

    01/10/2019 - 09:00 Oceans, Ecology
  • 50 years ago, scientists studied orcas in the wild for the first time

    The astonishing capture [of seven orcas off British Columbia] has made possible the first scientific study of killer whales in their more or less natural environment…. There is little doubt that the animals have a sophisticated language with which they can communicate with each other, but practically nothing is known about the complexity of their speech. — Science News, January 18,...
    01/10/2019 - 08:00 Animals
  • News

    ‘Little Foot’ skeleton reveals a brain much like a chimp’s

    An ancient hominid skeleton dubbed Little Foot possessed a brain largely similar to that of modern chimpanzees and an inner ear with a mix of apelike and humanlike features, two studies suggest. These findings, along with other analyses of the adult female’s 3.67-million-year-old skeleton, point to the piecemeal evolution of humanlike traits in close relatives of our species, scientists say....

    01/10/2019 - 06:00 Anthropology, Human Evolution
  • News

    This protein may help explain why some women with endometriosis are infertile

    A missing protein may help explain why some women with endometriosis are infertile.

    In samples of lining from the uterus, infertile women with the disorder had lower amounts of a protein called histone deacetylase 3, or HDAC3, than fertile women without endometriosis, a study finds. When mice were engineered to have a decreased amount of HDAC3 in the uterus, the animals became sterile,...

    01/09/2019 - 14:53 Health
  • News

    A new app tracks breathing to detect an opioid overdose

    A new smartphone app may help people who shoot up alone get medical treatment if they accidentally overdose.

    The app, dubbed Second Chance, monitors its user for breathing problems that foreshadow an opioid overdose (SN: 3/31/18, p. 18). In an emergency, the app could call 911 or send an SOS to friends or family who could provide opioid-counteracting medication.

    “Being able to...

    01/09/2019 - 14:00 Health, Technology, Science & Society
  • News in Brief

    Paint specks in tooth tartar illuminate a medieval woman’s artistry

    Remnants of a rare pigment found in dental tartar of a woman buried around 1,000 years ago at a medieval monastery indicate that she may have been an elite scribe or book painter.

    These pigment flecks come from ultramarine, a rare blue pigment made by grinding lapis lazuli stone imported from Afghanistan into powder, say archaeologist Anita Radini of the University of York in England and...

    01/09/2019 - 14:00 Anthropology
  • News

    A second repeating fast radio burst has been tracked to a distant galaxy

    SEATTLE — Astronomers have spotted a second repeating fast radio burst, and it looks a lot like the first. The existence of a second repeating burst suggests there could be many more of the mysterious signals in the cosmos.

    The burst, called FRB 180814.J0422+73, is one of 13 newly discovered fast radio bursts, or FRBs — brief, bright signals of radio energy that come from distant...

    01/09/2019 - 13:08 Cosmology
  • The Name Game

    Studies can be in vitro, in vivo and now ‘in fimo’ — in poop

    Poop contains a lot of valuable scientific information. Researchers can monitor microbes, track enzyme activity or hunt for DNA to gather clues about overall health.

    There’s so much one can learn from the waste product that microbiologist Aadra Bhatt at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill decided there should be a word for that research — something in the same vein as “in...

    01/09/2019 - 07:00 Health, Microbes