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  • Science Ticker

    40 years ago, Viking 1 pioneered U.S. exploration on Mars

    Happy 40th anniversary, Viking 1! Four decades ago — July 20, 1976 — the robotic probe became the first U.S. mission to land on Mars. Its sister spacecraft, Viking 2, touched down 45 days later.

    Launched August 20, 1975, Viking 1 spent over 6 years snapping pictures and studying the soil at its landing site, an ancient crater named Chryse Planitia. An experiment to look for Martian...

    07/20/2016 - 07:00 Planetary Science
  • Wild Things

    That ‘Dory’ for sale may have been poisoned with cyanide

    In the years after the animated movie Finding Nemo was released by Pixar in 2003, sales of clownfish spiked as fans, little and big, rushed to buy their own “Nemo.” So many Nemos were purchased that the sales actually depleted some wild stocks of the fish. Pressure on those wild populations has since dropped, thanks to efforts to increase captive clownfish breeding. But now there are worries...

    06/16/2016 - 15:00 Animals, Conservation
  • Wild Things

    Vultures are vulnerable to extinction

    Vultures are the birds everyone loves to hate. Even though you have nothing to fear from them — unless you’re dead — vultures’ steady diet of carrion will gross most people out. That diet may also be responsible for the birds’ quick and steep declines around the globe, a new study shows.

    It’s not the dead bodies that are killing vultures, though. It’s the poisons with which humans have...

    05/11/2016 - 08:36 Animals
  • Wild Things

    Snake fungal disease spreading in eastern United States

    There’s a deadly fungus spreading among snakes in the United States. But don’t cheer. As much as snakes might frighten us, they’re important players in the ecosystem, and we really don’t want to lose them.

    In 2006, scientists discovered some odd skin infections among snakes in declining populations in New Hampshire. Soon after, fungal infections were found in massasauga rattlesnakes in...

    03/15/2016 - 09:00 Animals
  • News in Brief

    ‘Cancer moonshot’ launch prep under way

    When President Barack Obama called for a “cancer moonshot” during his State of the Union address, the idea was big on vision and low on specifics. The goal, he said, was to make America “the country that cures cancer once and for all.” Now, details are trickling out, but a true plan for launch won’t be ready until June.

    In February, the White House released a list of cancer research...

    03/07/2016 - 16:34 Cancer
  • Science Ticker

    Low levels of radiation from Fukushima persist in seafood

    Radiation from the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant contaminates most Japanese seafood at low levels, researchers estimate February 29 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    For aquatic foods, data on lingering concentrations of cesium is limited in terms of the number of species sampled and the levels that surveys can even detect. To fill in...

    02/29/2016 - 15:40 Pollution
  • Culture Beaker

    ‘GMOs’ isn’t a four-letter word, but it is hard to define

    After the decision in November that deemed genetically engineered salmon safe for eating — the first animal to garner such approval — the Food and Drug Administration is now treading regulatory water. On January 29, the FDA issued an import alert, essentially banning the sale of the salmon until the agency figures out how the fish should be labeled. I don’t envy its task.

    Last fall, when...

    02/05/2016 - 16:57 Science & Society, Agriculture, Genetics
  • Science Ticker

    Monkeys with human gene show signs of autism

    Monkeys harboring a human gene associated with autism pace in circles, are anxious and don’t socialize normally, scientists report January 25 in Nature. These macaques may reveal insights into how autism affects the human brain, study coauthor Zilong Qiu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai said in a press briefing January 21.  

    Qiu and colleagues engineered monkeys to mimic...

    01/25/2016 - 11:00 Health, Human Development, Neuroscience
  • Wild Things

    Meet the bugs that call your house home

    If you’re one of those people who can’t stand finding even the most harmless bug inside your house and kills the spiders that prey on everything else, you might not want to read this. That’s because despite your best efforts to eliminate every creepy-crawly from view, there’s probably plenty more hanging out in your home.

    The good news is that the vast majority of arthropods found inside...

    01/20/2016 - 12:30 Animals
  • Feature

    Shinsei Ryu: Error-free quantum calculations

    Shinsei Ryu, 37Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign | Quantum PhysicsGraduate school: University of Tokyo

    On the boundary between the quantum and everyday realms, things don’t always make a whole lot of sense. The bundles of particles that make up materials behave in ways both unexpected and unexplained. This is the weird world that theoretical physicist Shinsei Ryu hopes to bring...

    09/22/2015 - 10:50 Quantum Physics, Condensed Matter, Physics, Science & Society