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  • News

    Pollution regulations help Chesapeake Bay seagrass rebound

    Underwater grasses are growing back in the Chesapeake Bay. The plants now carpet three times as much real estate as in 1984, thanks to more than 30 years of efforts to reduce nitrogen pollution. This environmental success story shows that regulations put in place to protect the bay’s health have made a difference, researchers report the week of March 5 in Proceedings of the National Academy of...

    03/05/2018 - 15:00 Ecosystems, Oceans, Plants
  • Science Stats

    By 2100, damaged corals may let waves twice as tall as today’s reach coasts

    A complex coral reef full of nooks and crannies is a coastline’s best defense against large ocean waves. But coral die-offs over the next century could allow taller waves to penetrate the corals’ defenses, simulations suggest. A new study finds that at some Pacific Island sites, waves reaching the shore could be more than twice as high as today’s by 2100.

    The rough, complex structures of...

    03/05/2018 - 13:41 Earth, Oceans, Animals
  • News

    In the future, an AI may diagnose eye problems

    The computer will see you now.

    Artificial intelligence algorithms may soon bring the diagnostic know-how of an eye doctor to primary care offices and walk-in clinics, speeding up the detection of health problems and the start of treatment, especially in areas where specialized doctors are scarce. The first such program — trained to spot symptoms of diabetes-related vision loss in eye...

    03/04/2018 - 08:00 Artificial Intelligence, Clinical Trials, Biomedicine
  • How Bizarre

    Loner gas clouds could be a new kind of stellar system

    A pair of dark loners wander a distant cluster of galaxies. The two small gas clouds have been roaming the Virgo cluster, some 55 million light-years away, for at least a billion years. Such small, isolated clouds of gas shouldn’t be able to form stars on their own — and yet they are doing just that.

    Astronomer Michele Bellazzini of the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics in...

    03/02/2018 - 11:12 Astronomy
  • News

    Early land plants led to the rise of mud

    Early plants made Earth muddier. Ancient riverbed deposits of mud rock — rocks containing bits of clay and silt smaller than grains of sand — began increasing around 458 million years ago, around the time that rootless plants became common across Earth, researchers say.

    Anecdotally, geologists have long noted that early sediment deposits became muddier at some point, and suggested a...

    03/01/2018 - 16:19 Earth, Plants
  • News

    It’s official: Termites are just cockroaches with a fancy social life

    Termites are the new cockroach.

    Literally. The Entomological Society of America is updating its master list of insect names to reflect decades of genetic and other evidence that termites belong in the cockroach order, called Blattodea.

    As of February 15, “it’s official ... that termites no longer have their own order,” says Mike Merchant of Texas A&M University in College...

    03/01/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Evolution
  • Introducing

    A new species of tardigrade lays eggs covered with doodads and streamers

    What a spectacular Easter basket tardigrade eggs would make — at least for those celebrating in miniature.

    A new species of the pudgy, eight-legged, water creatures lays pale, spherical microscopic eggs studded with domes crowned in long, trailing streamers.  

    Eggs of many land-based tardigrades have bumps, spines, filaments and such, presumably to help attach to a surface, says...

    02/28/2018 - 17:31 Animals
  • News

    Human skin bacteria have cancer-fighting powers

    Certain skin-dwelling microbes may be anticancer superheroes, reining in uncontrolled cell growth. This surprise discovery could one day lead to drugs that treat or maybe even prevent skin cancer.

    The bacteria’s secret weapon is a chemical compound that stops DNA formation in its tracks. Mice slathered with one strain of Staphylococcus epidermidis that makes the compound developed fewer...

    02/28/2018 - 15:49 Health, Cancer, Microbiology
  • News

    Here’s when the universe’s first stars may have been born

    For the first time, scientists may have detected hints of the universe’s primordial sunrise, when the first twinkles of starlight appeared in the cosmos.  

    Stars began illuminating the heavens by about 180 million years after the universe was born, researchers report in the March 1 Nature. This “cosmic dawn” left its mark on the hydrogen gas that surrounded the stars (SN: 6/8/02, p. 362...

    02/28/2018 - 13:00 Cosmology, Astronomy
  • News

    A rare rainstorm wakes undead microbes in Chile’s Atacama Desert

    Chile’s Atacama Desert is so dry that some spots see rain only once a decade. Salt turns the sandy soil inhospitable, and ultraviolet radiation scorches the surface. So little can survive there that scientists have wondered whether snippets of DNA found in the soil are just part of the desiccated skeletons of long-dead microbes or traces of hunkered-down but still living colonies.

    A rare...

    02/27/2018 - 14:33 Microbiology, Astrobiology