Imagine for a moment that you lived on another planet. Not Tatooine, Trantor or another fictional orb, but a real-deal planet circling a star somewhere in our real-deal galaxy. What would your world look like? Would there be a rocky surface? An atmosphere? How long would a day last? How about a year? What special physiology might you need to survive there? There’s no single scenario,...06/14/2017 - 10:57 Science & Society
The woman in her 70s was in trouble. What started as a broken leg led to an infection in her hip that hung on for two years and several hospital stays. At a Nevada hospital, doctors gave the woman seven different antibiotics, one after the other. The drugs did little to help her. Lab results showed that none of the 14 antibiotics available at the hospital could fight the infection, caused by...
Seabirds called common murres appear to use preening as a way to negotiate whose turn it is to watch their chick and who must find food. And when one parent is feeling foul, irregularities in this grooming ritual may send the other a signal that all is not well, researchers report in the July issue of The Auk: Ornithological Advances.
“The fascinating part of this study is the inference...
Researchers have pinpointed a gene that keeps important brain cells in mice from crossing their wires, providing a possible link between brain wiring and mood disorders like depression.
Without the gene, called Pcdhαc2, mice acted more depressed, researchers report April 28 in Science.
Nerve cells, or neurons, that produce the chemical messenger molecule serotonin extend long...
Immune system cells may help your heart keep the beat. These cells, called macrophages, usually protect the body from invading pathogens. But a new study published April 20 in Cell shows that in mice, the immune cells help electricity flow between muscle cells to keep the organ pumping.
Macrophages squeeze in between heart muscle cells, called cardiomyocytes. These muscle cells...
Letters to the Editor
Eau de stinkbug04/19/2017 - 11:49 Animals
Stinkbugs accidentally harvested with grapes and fermented during the winemaking process release a pungent stress compound. It takes only three stinkbugs per grape cluster to ruin red wine’s taste, Elizabeth S. Eaton reported in “Red wine has stinkbug threshold” (SN: 3/18/17, p. 5).
“Does contamination of wine by the bugs’ stress compound pose any health risk to...
The Science Life
While researching fossils in a museum in 2007, Sterling Nesbitt noticed one partial skeleton that was hard to place. Though the reptile — at the time, unofficially called Teleocrater rhadinus — was thought to be a dinosaur relative, it was an oddball. At about 2 meters long, it was larger than other close relatives, walked on four feet instead of two, and had an unusually long neck and tail....
Hawk moths have a sweet solution to muscle damage.
Manduca sexta moths dine solely on nectar, but the sugary liquid does more than fuel their bodies. The insects convert some of the sugars into antioxidants that protect the moths’ hardworking muscles, researchers report in the Feb. 17 Science.
When animals expend a lot of energy, like hawk moths do as they rapidly beat their wings...
A new species of worm-snail is rather snotty. Thylacodes vandyensis shoots out strands of mucus that tangle together, building a spiderweb-like trap for plankton and other floating snacks, researchers report April 5 in PeerJ.
Other worm-snails use this hunting technique, but T. vandyensis stands out because of the “copious amounts of mucus” it ejects, says coauthor Rüdiger Bieler. This...
A common and usually harmless virus may trigger celiac disease. Infection with the suspected culprit, a reovirus, could cause the immune system to react to gluten as if it was a dangerous pathogen instead of a harmless food protein, an international team of researchers reports April 7 in Science.
In a study in mice, the researchers found that the reovirus, T1L, tricks the immune system...