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  • News in Brief

    Spherical flames in space could solve the mystery of soot-free fires

    Solving this burning question requires starting fires in space.

    Ongoing experiments on the International Space Station could help resolve a scientific debate about why some fires burn without producing soot. Made of carbon particles created when fuel fails to burn completely, soot is a pollutant. The particles are linked to health issues, including cancer (SN: 8/4/07, p. 69), and...

    05/23/2019 - 09:00 Physics, Technology
  • News in Brief

    Sweaty, vinegary and sweet odors mingle to make dark chocolate’s smell

    Scientists have sniffed out the chemicals that give some dark chocolates their smell.

    The compounds that mingle to make the candy’s aroma include pleasant-smelling ones such as vanillin, which gives vanilla its smell, and flowery linalool. But other molecules produce smoky or vinegary odors and even one that smells like sweat, researchers report online May 8 in the Journal of...

    05/23/2019 - 07:00 Chemistry
  • News

    Faulty cellular antennae may cause a heart valve disorder

    Cells with faulty antennae that can’t get their signals straight may be behind a common heart valve disorder.

    Newborn mice engineered to develop a flawed heart valve had stunted primary cilia in cells that help to form the valve during development, researchers report online May 22 in Science Translational Medicine.

    The heart valve disorder, called mitral valve prolapse, “is...

    05/22/2019 - 14:00 Health
  • News

    Emissions of a banned ozone-destroying chemical have been traced to China

    China has continued producing an ozone-destroying chemical called CFC-11 in violation of an international agreement, an analysis of atmospheric gas finds.

    Air samples collected in South Korea and Japan suggest that eastern China emitted around 7,000 metric tons more trichlorofluoromethane a year from 2014 to 2017 than it did from 2008 to 2012. This boost in emissions explains a large...

    05/22/2019 - 13:00 Pollution, Chemistry
  • Soapbox

    A cognitive neuroscientist warns that the U.S. justice system harms teen brains

    A teenager’s brain does not magically mature into its reasoned, adult form the night before his or her 18th birthday. Instead, aspects of brain development stretch into a person’s 20s — a protracted fine-tuning with serious implications for young people caught in the U.S. justice system, argues cognitive neuroscientist B.J. Casey of Yale University.

    In the May 22 Neuron, Casey describes...

    05/22/2019 - 11:00 Health, Neuroscience, Science & Society
  • News

    Some plants use hairy roots and acid to access nutrients in rock

    No soil? No problem. Some herbaceous shrubs living on rocky mountains in Brazil use roots equipped with fine hairs and acids to dissolve rocks and extract the key nutrient phosphorus. The discovery, published in the May Functional Ecology, helps explain how a variety of plants can survive in impoverished environments.

    “While most people tend to view nutrient-poor environments as less...

    05/22/2019 - 07:00 Plants, Ecology
  • Feature

    How the battle against measles varies around the world

    The World Health Organization’s goal was lofty but achievable: eliminate measles from five of the world’s six regions by 2020. But recent outbreaks — even in places where elimination had been achieved — are making that goal a distant dream.

    In the first four months of 2019, 179 countries reported 168,193 cases of measles. That’s almost 117,000 more cases reported during the same period...

    05/21/2019 - 06:00 Science & Society, Immune Science, Health
  • Feature

    Measles erases the immune system’s memory

    The most iconic thing about measles is the rash — red, livid splotches that make infection painfully visible.

    But that rash, and even the fever, coughing and watery, sore eyes, are all distractions from the virus’s real harm — an all-out attack on the immune system.

    Measles silently wipes clean the immune system’s memory of past infections. In this way, the virus can cast a long...

    05/21/2019 - 06:00 Health, Biomedicine
  • Feature

    Finding common ground can reduce parents’ hesitation about vaccines

    About six years ago, Emily Adams, a mother of two in Lakewood, Colo., briefly counted herself among the vaccine hesitant. Her family had changed insurance plans, and while her older daughter was up-to-date on shots, her infant son fell behind.

    “We were no longer on schedule, just because of life,” she says. Adams remembers mentioning her son’s situation to a friend, who suggested Adams...

    05/21/2019 - 06:00 Health
  • News

    Bad moods could be contagious among ravens

    Here’s a downer: Pessimism seems contagious among ravens. But positivity? Not so much.

    When ravens saw fellow birds’ responses to a disliked food, but not the food itself, their interest in their own food options waned, researchers report May 20 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study suggests that the birds pick up on and even share negative emotions, the...

    05/20/2019 - 17:37 Animals, Psychology