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  • News

    Bacterial compounds may be as good as DEET at repelling mosquitoes

    Molecules made by bacteria keep mosquitoes at bay. The compounds are a newfound potential stand-in for DEET, a ubiquitous chemical used in most commercially available mosquito repellents in the United States.

    In lab tests, the molecules were as effective as DEET in stopping Aedes aegypti mosquitos, which can carry Zika, dengue and yellow fever, from snacking on artificial blood,...

    01/16/2019 - 14:18 Animals, Health
  • News

    Here’s how the record-breaking government shutdown is disrupting science

    As the partial federal government shutdown enters its fourth week — on January 12 becoming the longest in U.S. history — scientists are increasingly feeling the impact. Thousands of federal workers who handle food safety and public health are furloughed. Countless projects researching everything from climate change to pest control to hurricane prediction are on hold.

    Among government...

    01/12/2019 - 08:00 Science & Society
  • 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

    DNA tests of Lassa virus mid-outbreak helped Nigeria target its response

    When an outbreak of a viral hemorrhagic fever hit Nigeria in 2018, scientists were ready: They were already in the country testing new disease-tracking technology, and within weeks managed to steer health workers toward the most appropriate response.

    Lassa fever, which is transmitted from rodents to humans, pops up every year in West Africa. But 2018 was the worst season on record for...

    01/03/2019 - 14:09 Health, Genetics
  • News

    A new way to genetically tweak photosynthesis boosts plant growth

    A genetic hack to make photosynthesis more efficient could be a boon for agricultural production, at least for some plants.

    This feat of genetic engineering simplifies a complex, energy-expensive operation that many plants must perform during photosynthesis known as photorespiration. In field tests, genetically modifying tobacco in this way increased plant growth by over 40 percent. If...

    01/03/2019 - 14:00 Agriculture, Plants, Genetics
  • Wild Things

    Poop provides a link in determining penguin diet from space

    The best way to find out what an Adélie penguin is eating is to catch it and make it regurgitate its meal. This is about as pleasant for bird and researcher as you might think. It’s also invasive, time-consuming and expensive to do on a large scale, so scientists need other ways to determine diet. Now they have one; it relies on images taken by Landsat satellites.

    The satellites don’t...

    01/02/2019 - 07:00 Animals
  • The Science Life

    This scientist watches meat rot to decipher the Neandertal diet

    WASHINGTON — Kimberly Foecke has a great relationship with her local butcher.

    Though she buys loads of meat, Foecke is not a chef or the owner of a small zoo. She’s a paleobiologist who studies what Neandertals ate. And that involves, in her words, “experimental putrefaction, which is a fancy way of saying, I rot meat, all day, every day.”

    Scientists know Neandertals ate a lot of...

    01/02/2019 - 06:00 Anthropology, Nutrition
  • Year in Review

    Artificial intelligence is mastering a wider variety of jobs than ever before

    In 2018, artificial intelligence took on new tasks, with these smarty-pants algorithms acing everything from disease diagnosis to crater counting.Coming to a clinic near you

    In April, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration permitted marketing of the first artificial intelligence that diagnoses health problems at primary care clinics without specialist supervision (SN: 3/31/18, p. 15...

    12/27/2018 - 11:46 Artificial Intelligence
  • Year in Review

    The #MeToo movement shook up workplace policies in science

    Science is catching up to Hollywood in coming to terms with its own #MeToo moment. In the last year or so, several high-profile scientists left their posts after investigations of sexual harassment allegations, including geneticist Francisco Ayala, cancer biologist Inder Verma and astrophysicist Christian Ott. But getting rid of the “bad actors” isn’t enough, according to a report...
    12/20/2018 - 12:14 Science & Society
  • Year in Review

    E-cigarettes caught fire among teens

    On November 15, Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, announced new sales restrictions on certain e-cigarette flavors preferred by teens. The move was a response to a worrying rise in vaping among adolescents in the last year. “E-cigs have become an almost ubiquitous and dangerous trend among teens,” he warned, calling it an “epidemic” in a September...
    12/19/2018 - 06:00 Health