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  • Reviews & Previews

    Smart plants can teach us a thing or two

    The Revolutionary Genius of PlantsStefano MancusoAtria Books, $30

    More than 200 years ago, French botanist René Desfontaines instructed a student to monitor the behavior of Mimosa pudica plants as he drove them around Paris in a carriage. Mimosa pudica quickly closes its leaves when touched — presumably as a defense mechanism. Desfontaines was interested in the plants’ response to...

    09/18/2018 - 07:00 Plants, Evolution, Biophysics
  • News in Brief

    Here’s how clumps of honeybees may survive blowing in the wind

    A stiff breeze is no match for a clump of honeybees, and now scientists are beginning to understand why.

    When scouting out a new home, the bees tend to cluster together on tree branches or other surfaces, forming large, hanging clumps which help keep the insects safe from the elements. To keep the clump together, individual honeybees change their positions, fine-tuning the cluster’s...

    09/17/2018 - 11:00 Biophysics
  • Science Visualized

    The ghosts of nearly two dozen icy volcanoes haunt dwarf planet Ceres

    Scientists have spotted the ghosts of nearly two dozen ice volcanoes on dwarf planet Ceres.

    Found using topographic maps from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, the slumped remains of once-grand cones suggest that Ceres has experienced continual eruptions for billions of years, the researchers report September 17 in Nature Astronomy.

    When Dawn arrived at Ceres in 2015, scientists noticed just...

    09/17/2018 - 11:00 Planetary Science
  • Rethink

    A recount of human genes ups the number to at least 46,831

    Figuring out how many genes are in the human genetic instruction manual, or genome, isn’t as easy as scientists once thought. The very definition of a gene has changed since the completion of the Human Genome Project more than 15 years ago.

    Genes used to be defined as stretches of DNA that contain instructions that are copied into RNA and then turned into proteins. Researchers still don’...

    09/17/2018 - 07:00 Genetics
  • The Science Life

    Confused mayflies wreak havoc on a Pennsylvania bridge

    Mayflies swarming a central Pennsylvania bridge over the Susquehanna River are a good thing, and a bad thing. Before the 1972 Clean Water Act, the river was too polluted to support the primitive aquatic insects. So their comeback is a sign that the water is healthier, says forensic entomologist John Wallace of nearby Millersville University.

    But those swarms have become a nighttime...

    09/16/2018 - 08:00 Ecosystems, Pollution
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Poached’ offers a deep, disturbing look into the illegal wildlife trade

    PoachedRachel Love NuwerDa Capo Press, $28

    Perhaps the most unsettling scene in Poached, by science journalist Rachel Love Nuwer, comes early in the book, in a fancy restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The author and two friends sit down and are handed leather-bound menus offering roasted civet, fried tortoise, stewed pangolin and other delicacies made from rare or endangered...

    09/14/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Conservation, Science & Society
  • News in Brief

    This flying robot could reveal secrets of the aerial world of insects

    A new winged robot helps explain why airborne insects are so doggone hard to swat.

    Scientists have wondered how these tiny pilots pull off such rapid twists and turns, but researchers haven’t been able to test all their ideas by monitoring real insects or using tethered robots. Now, a free-flying, insect-inspired robot, described in the Sept. 14 Science, gives researchers an alternative...

    09/13/2018 - 14:00 Robotics, Animals
  • News in Brief

    Butchered bird bones put humans in Madagascar 10,500 years ago

    Humans made their mark on Madagascar around 6,000 years earlier than previously thought, scientists say. Those early migrants hunted massive, flightless birds once native to the island off southeast Africa, leaving butchery marks on the bird bones that enabled the new timeline.

    Cuts and fractures on three previously unearthed leg and foot bones from one of Madagascar’s extinct elephant...

    09/12/2018 - 14:00 Anthropology, Human Evolution
  • News

    A new antibiotic uses sneaky tactics to kill drug-resistant superbugs

    Drug-resistant bacteria have a new challenger.

    A new molecule can kill deadly strains of common bacteria, such as Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumonia, that are resistant to most existing antibiotics. The drug works differently from currently available antibiotics, potentially making it harder for bacteria to develop resistance, researchers report September 12 in Nature.

    Most...

    09/12/2018 - 13:00 Chemistry, Biomedicine, Health
  • News

    This South African cave stone may bear the world’s oldest drawing

    A red, crosshatched design adorning a rock from a South African cave may take the prize as the oldest known drawing.

    Ancient humans sketched the line pattern around 73,000 years ago by running a chunk of pigment across a smoothed section of stone in Blombos Cave, scientists say. Until now, the earliest drawings dated to roughly 40,000 years ago on cave walls in Europe and Indonesia.

    ...
    09/12/2018 - 13:00 Archaeology, Human Evolution