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  • News

    The water system that helped Angkor rise may have also brought its fall

    At the medieval city of Angkor, flooding after decades of scant rainfall triggered a devastating breakdown of the largest water system in the preindustrial world, new evidence suggests.

    Intense monsoon rains bracketed by decades of drought in the 1400s set off a chain reaction of failures in Angkor’s interconnected water network, computer simulations indicate. The climate-induced...

    10/17/2018 - 14:00 Archaeology, Climate, Sustainability
  • News

    These ancient mounds may not be the earliest fossils on Earth after all

    Tiny mounds touted as the earliest fossilized evidence of life on Earth may just be twisted rock.

    Found in 3.7-billion-year-old rocks in Greenland, the mounds strongly resemble cone-shaped microbial mats called stromatolites, researchers reported in 2016. But a new analysis of the shape, internal layers and chemistry of the structures suggests that the mounds weren’t shaped by microbes...

    10/17/2018 - 13:00 Earth, Paleontology, Microbes
  • News

    What the electron’s near-perfect roundness means for new physics

    Electrons are still almost perfectly round, a new measurement shows. A more squished shape could hint at the presence of never-before-seen subatomic particles, so the result stymies the search for new physics.

    The electron gets its shape from the way that positive and negative charges are distributed inside the particle. The best theory for how particles behave, called the standard model...

    10/17/2018 - 13:00 Particle Physics
  • Science Visualized

    Dandelion seeds create a bizarre whirlpool in the air to fly

    When you’re essentially a little ball of floof, flying is hard.

    To ride the wind, dandelion seeds stir up a weird type of whirlpool in the air directly above them. The newly discovered way of moving through the air, described October 17 in Nature, resolves a long-standing question about how the seeds stay aloft.

    Dandelion seed flight is not unlike the flight of Mary Poppins:...

    10/17/2018 - 13:00 Biophysics, Plants
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers wonder about a hydrogen wall, pig lung transplants and more

    Wonderwall

    An ultraviolet glow spotted by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft may signal a hydrogen wall that separates the solar system from the rest of the Milky Way galaxy, Lisa Grossman reported in “New Horizons may have seen a glow at the solar system’s edge” (SN: 9/15/18, p. 10).

    Online reader RayRay wondered if researchers could see similar walls at the edges of other solar...

    10/17/2018 - 07:15 Astronomy, Biomedicine, Genetics
  • Editor's Note

    Waking up early to cover science’s biggest honor

    At 5:10 a.m. on October 1, news director Macon Morehouse walked into her kitchen, powered on her computer and hit “start” on the coffeemaker she had preloaded the night before. It was game day for the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine, and she wanted to be ready when the announcement came from Stockholm, six time zones away.

    It’s a ritual we follow every year at Science News;...

    10/17/2018 - 07:00 Science & Society
  • News

    A mysterious polio-like disease has sickened as many as 127 people in the U.S.

    U.S. health officials are investigating an outbreak of a mysterious, polio-like disease that causes weakness in one or more limbs. The rare disease — acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM — has sickened 62 people, mostly children, in 22 states so far this year and is suspected in 65 more cases, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced October 16.

    Starting with an outbreak...

    10/16/2018 - 18:37 Health
  • News in Brief

    An ancient child’s ‘vampire burial’ included steps to prevent resurrection

    Excavations in an ancient Roman cemetery turned poignantly eerie last summer.

    In one grave lay a roughly 10-year-old child, possibly the victim of malaria, with a stone inserted in his or her mouth. That practice was part of a funeral ritual intended to prevent the youngster from rising zombielike and spreading disease to the living, researchers say. Such "vampire burials" indicate signs...

    10/16/2018 - 13:00 Archaeology
  • News

    To unravel autism’s mysteries, one neuroscientist looks at the developing brain

    WASHINGTON — As the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder increases, so too has research on the complex and poorly understood disorder. With powerful genetic tools, advanced brain-imaging methods and large groups of children to study, the field is poised to make big contributions in understanding — and potentially treating — autism.

    Neuroscientist Kevin Pelphrey, who...

    10/16/2018 - 12:00 Neuroscience
  • News in Brief

    People who have a good sense of smell are also good navigators

    We may truly be led by our noses. A sense of smell and a sense of navigation are linked in our brains, scientists propose.

    Neuroscientist Louisa Dahmani and colleagues asked 57 young people to navigate through a virtual town on a computer screen before being tested on how well they could get from one spot to another. The same young people’s smelling abilities were also scrutinized. After...

    10/16/2018 - 10:59 Neuroscience