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  • Feature

    As waters rise, coastal megacities like Mumbai face catastrophe

    Each year when the monsoon rain sheets down and the tides swell over coastal Mumbai, Saif shutters his soda shop on Juhu Beach and takes shelter up in the rafters. Still, the water invades through the roof and over the concrete floors, sometimes reaching as high as the freezers full of ice cream.

    For 36-year-old Saif, the coastal megacity’s chronic flooding is stressful. “What would...

    08/15/2018 - 09:30 Climate, Oceans, Sustainability
  • Feature

    Why sea level rise varies from place to place

    In the 20th century, ocean levels rose by a global average of about 14 centimeters, mainly due to melting ice and warming waters. Some coastal areas saw more sea level rise than others. Here’s why:  

    Expanding seawater

    As water heats up, its molecules take up more space, contributing to global sea level rise. Local weather systems can influence that effect. In 2017 scientists reported in...

    08/15/2018 - 09:30 Earth, Oceans, Climate
  • News

    A resurrected gene may protect elephants from cancer

    Elephants rarely succumb to cancer. That’s surprising given how large the animals grow and how long they can live, which should provide more opportunities for cells to morph into cancer cells. A newly described gene that was brought back from the dead may take part in protecting the animals from the disease.

    A deep dive into elephants’ evolutionary history revealed a defunct gene called...

    08/14/2018 - 14:23 Health, Genetics, Animals
  • News

    A new computer program generates eerily realistic fake videos

    “The camera never lies” is a thing of the past.

    A new computer program can manipulate a video such that the person on-screen mirrors the movements and expressions of someone in a different video. Unlike other film-fudging software, this program can tamper with far more than facial expressions. The algorithm, to be presented August 16 at the 2018 SIGGRAPH meeting in Vancouver, also tweaks...

    08/14/2018 - 10:33 Computing, Technology, Science & Society
  • Screentime

    Scientists-turned-students guide viewers through ‘The Most Unknown’

    When pondering the deepest scientific questions — What is time? What is consciousness? Is there life on other worlds? — it helps to have a knowledgeable guide. But not too knowledgeable.

    In The Most Unknown, a documentary now available on Netflix, nine scientists perform a research round robin: Each one visits another from an entirely different discipline. Esteemed experts in their own...

    08/14/2018 - 08:00 Science & Society
  • News

    Tiny bits of RNA can trigger pain and itchiness

    Some snippets of RNA can be a real pain.

    A microRNA called miR-30c-5p contributes to nerve pain in rats and people, a new study finds. A different microRNA, miR-711, interacts with a well-known itch-inducing protein to cause itching, a second study concludes. Together, the research highlights the important role that the small pieces of genetic material can play in nerve cell function,...

    08/13/2018 - 14:06 Cells, Physiology, Neuroscience, Genetics
  • Reviews & Previews

    Strange brains offer a glimpse into the mind

    To understand the human brain, take note of the rare, the strange and the downright spooky. That’s the premise of two new books, Unthinkable by science writer Helen Thomson and The Disordered Mind by neuroscientist Eric R. Kandel.

    Both books describe people with minds that don’t work the same way as everyone else’s. These are people who are convinced that they are dead, for instance;...

    08/13/2018 - 09:00 Neuroscience, Mental Health
  • News

    In the animal kingdom, what does it mean to be promiscuous?

    MILWAUKEE — When it comes to the sex lives of animals, scientists have a slate of explicit terms to describe the proclivities of species. But researchers may be playing a little fast and loose with one of those words. Just what sort of activity qualifies an animal as promiscuous?

    A review of almost 350 studies published in scientific journals in 2015 and 2016 found that the label was...

    08/13/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Ecology
  • Science Ticker

    The Parker Solar Probe has launched and is on its way to explore the sun

    NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is officially on its way to the sun.

    After a one-day delay, the probe took off into a dark, cloudy sky over Cape Canaveral, Fla., aboard a Delta IV Heavy rocket at 3:31 a.m. EDT on August 12.

    “Here we go,” said 91-year-old solar physicist Eugene Parker, the spacecraft’s namesake, as he watched the launch. Parker proposed the existence of the solar wind, a...

    08/12/2018 - 08:16 Astronomy
  • News

    The first gene-silencing drug wins FDA approval

    A Nobel Prize–winning discovery — that small double-stranded RNA molecules can silence genes by interrupting the translation of DNA’s instructions into proteins — is finally delivering on its medical promise.

    The first drug that takes advantage of this natural biological process, called RNA interference, was approved August 10 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It targets a rare...

    08/10/2018 - 15:52 Biomedicine, Clinical Trials, Health, Genetics