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  • News in Brief

    Move over, Hubble. This sharp pic of Neptune was taken from Earth

    A telescope on Earth has snapped pictures of Neptune at least as clear as those from the Hubble Space Telescope. The trick? Taking the twinkle out of stars.

    Released by the European Southern Observatory on July 18, the images come from a new observing system on the Very Large Telescope in Chile. The instrument uses four lasers to cancel out blurring caused by Earth’s atmosphere — the...

    07/18/2018 - 06:00 Astronomy
  • News

    An ancient swimming revolution in the oceans may have never happened

    About 540 million years ago, the oceans were an alien landscape, devoid of swimming, or nektonic, creatures. Some scientists have hypothesized, based on fossil evidence, that swimmers suddenly dominated in the oceans during the Devonian Period, between 419 million and 359 million years ago. But an in-depth study of marine fossils now suggests that this so-called Devonian Nekton Revolution...

    07/17/2018 - 19:05 Paleontology, Oceans
  • News

    Jupiter has 12 more moons than we knew about — and one is bizarre

    Astronomers have found 12 more moons around Jupiter, and one is really weird. While 11 orbit in the same direction as their nearest neighbors, one doesn’t, potentially putting it on a fatal collision course.

    “It’s driving down the highway on the wrong side of the road,” says planetary scientist Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C.

    Sheppard and...

    07/17/2018 - 10:00 Planetary Science
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘The Poisoned City’ chronicles Flint’s water crisis

    The Poisoned CityAnna ClarkMetropolitan Books, $30

    America is built on lead. Networks of aging pipes made from the bluish-gray metal bring water into millions of U.S. homes. But when lead, a poison to the nervous system, gets into drinking water — as happened in Flint, Mich. — the heavy metal can cause irreparable harm (SN: 3/19/16, p. 8). In The Poisoned City, journalist Anna Clark...

    07/17/2018 - 07:00 Health, Toxicology, Science & Society
  • News

    Wildfires are making extreme air pollution even worse in the northwest U.S.

    The northwestern United States has become an air pollution hot spot — literally.

    Air quality in states from Nevada to Montana is worse than it was 30 years ago on the days with the most extreme air pollution. Bigger and more frequent wildfires that spew plumes of fine particulate matter into the sky are largely to blame, researchers report July 16 in Proceedings of the National Academy...

    07/16/2018 - 15:19 Pollution, Climate
  • Science Ticker

    Publicity over a memory test Trump took could skew its results

    When President Donald Trump took a mental test as part of his physical in January, the results called attention to far more than his fitness for office. (He passed with a perfect score, according to his physician.) It put a test commonly used to catch early signs of dementia in the spotlight. That publicity could lead to missed diagnoses, researchers warn July 16 in JAMA Neurology.

    ...

    07/16/2018 - 11:00 Health, Neuroscience
  • News in Brief

    Solving problems by computer just got a lot faster

    A new computer program works smarter, not harder, to solve problems faster than its predecessors.

    The algorithm is designed to find the best solution to a given problem among all possible options. Whereas other computer programs winnow down the possibilities one at a time, the new program — presented July 12 at the International Conference on Machine Learning in Stockholm — rules out...

    07/16/2018 - 07:00 Computing, Technology
  • Feature

    The brain may clean out Alzheimer’s plaques during sleep

    Neuroscientist Barbara Bendlin studies the brain as Alzheimer’s disease develops. When she goes home, she tries to leave her work in the lab. But one recent research project has crossed into her personal life: She now takes sleep much more seriously.

    Bendlin works at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, home to the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention, a study of more than 1,500...

    07/15/2018 - 06:00 Biomedicine, Neuroscience, Mental Health
  • News in Brief

    First global maps of Pluto and Charon show the worlds’ highs and lows

    The first global maps of Pluto and its moon Charon are now available, putting a bookend on NASA’s New Horizons mission.

    “From a completionist’s point of view, they are all the good data we have, stitched together into a coherent, complete mosaic,” says planetary scientist Ross Beyer of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

    The charts focus on the 42 percent of Pluto...

    07/13/2018 - 16:50 Planetary Science
  • News

    Pregnancy depression is on the rise, a survey suggests

    Today’s young women are more likely to experience depression and anxiety during pregnancy than their mothers were, a generation-spanning survey finds.

    From 1990 to 1992, about 17 percent of young pregnant women in southwest England who participated in the study had signs of depressed mood. But the generation that followed, including these women’s daughters and sons’ partners, fared worse...

    07/13/2018 - 11:00 Neuroscience, Health