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  • Feature

    When bogs burn, the environment takes a hit

    In 2015, massive wildfires burned through Indonesia, sending thick smoke and haze as far as Thailand.

    These fires were “the worst environmental disaster in modern history,” says Thomas Smith, a wildfire expert at King’s College London. Smith estimates that the fires and smoke killed 100,000 people in Indonesia and neighboring countries and caused billions of...

    03/06/2018 - 12:00 Ecosystems, Climate, Agriculture
  • News

    The quest to identify the nature of the neutrino’s alter ego is heating up

    Galaxies, stars, planets and life, all are formed from one essential substance: matter.

    But the abundance of matter is one of the biggest unsolved mysteries of physics. The Big Bang, 13.8 billion years ago, spawned equal amounts of matter and its bizarro twin, antimatter. Matter and antimatter partners annihilate when they meet, so an even stephen universe would have ended up full of...

    02/26/2018 - 07:00 Particle Physics
  • Science Visualized

    New mapping shows just how much fishing impacts the world’s seas

    Fishing has left a hefty footprint on Earth. Oceans cover more than two-thirds of the planet’s surface, and industrial fishing occurred across 55 percent of that ocean area in 2016, researchers report in the Feb. 23 Science. In comparison, only 34 percent of Earth’s land area is used for agriculture or grazing.

    Previous efforts to quantify global fishing have relied on a hodgepodge of...

    02/22/2018 - 15:40 Earth, Science & Society, Animals
  • News

    Cave art suggests Neandertals were ancient humans’ mental equals

    Neandertals drew on cave walls and made personal ornaments long before encountering Homo sapiens, two new studies find. These discoveries paint bulky, jut-jawed Neandertals as the mental equals of ancient humans, scientists say.

    Rock art depicting abstract shapes and hand stencils in three Spanish caves dates back to at least 64,800 years ago, researchers report in the Feb. 23 Science....

    02/22/2018 - 14:12 Archaeology, Human Evolution
  • News in Brief

    A fake organ mimics what happens in the blink of an eye

    AUSTIN, Texas — A new artificial organ gives a new meaning to the phrase “making eyes.”

    For the first time, researchers used human cells to build a model of the surface of the eye that’s equipped with a fake eyelid that mimics blinking. This synthetic eye could be used to study and test treatments for eye diseases, researchers reported February 16 in a news conference at the annual...

    02/20/2018 - 17:15 Biophysics, Technology, Cells
  • News in Brief

    Babies can recover language skills after a left-side stroke

    AUSTIN, Texas — Babies’ stroke-damaged brains can pull a mirror trick to recover.

    A stroke on the left side of the brain often damages important language-processing areas. But people who have this stroke just before or after birth recover their language abilities in the mirror image spot on the right side, a study of teens and young adults shows. Those patients all had normal language...

    02/18/2018 - 15:45 Neuroscience
  • News

    Americans would welcome alien life rather than fear it

    AUSTIN, Texas — If alien microbes crash-land on Earth, they may get a warm welcome.

    When people were asked how they would react to the discovery of extraterrestrial microbial life, they give generally positive responses, researchers reported at a news conference February 16 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

    This suggests that if...

    02/16/2018 - 17:00 Astrobiology, Microbiology, Science & Society
  • News

    Ants practice combat triage and nurse their injured

    View the video

    No wounded left behind — not quite. Ants that have evolved battlefield medevac carry only the moderately wounded home to the nest. There, those lucky injured fighters get fast and effective wound care.

    Insect colonies seething with workers may seem unlikely to stage elaborate rescues of individual fighters. Yet for Matabele ants (Megaponera analis) in sub-Saharan...

    02/16/2018 - 14:14 Animals, Evolution, Ecology
  • How To

    James Webb Space Telescope challenges artists to see in infrared

    With an astronomer’s toolkit and an artist’s eye, Zoltan Levay has transformed raw data from the Hubble Space Telescope into stunning space vistas for almost a quarter century (SN: 4/18/15, p. 4). He’s now preparing for a new challenge: Working with light not visible to human eyes.

    Levay’s next charge is the James Webb Space Telescope, set to launch in 2019. Unlike Hubble, which mostly...

    02/16/2018 - 12:58 Astronomy
  • News in Brief

    Strong winds send migrating seal pups on lengthier trips

    PORTLAND, Ore. — Native American fishermen in Alaska have long said that seal pups go with the wind rather than struggle against it. Now, a new study confirms that wisdom. Migrating northern fur seal pups travel hundreds of kilometers farther in blustery years than in milder years, researchers reported February 14 at the American Geophysical Union’s Ocean Sciences meeting. Those epic journeys...

    02/15/2018 - 16:32 Animals, Earth, Climate