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  • 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
  • Context

    These are the top 10 landmarks in the history of making measurements

    In no field of science is the gulf between appreciation and importance as wide as it is for metrology.

    It’s not about the weather. Metrology is the science of measuring. It has a longer history than the modern sciences taught in school, and it’s essential to all of science’s usefulness and power. Without sound metrology, there’d be no trips to the moon, no modern medicine, no self-...

    05/20/2019 - 09:00 History of Science
  • News

    The kilogram just got a revamp. A unit of time might be next

    The new kilogram has finally arrived.

    Updates to scientists’ system of measurement went into force May 20, redefining the kilogram and several other units in the metric system. The revamp does away with some outdated standards — most notably, a metal cylinder kept in a vault near Paris that has defined the kilogram for 130 years (SN: 12/8/18, p. 7).

    Tinkering with units allows...

    05/20/2019 - 07:00 Physics, Numbers
  • News

    How allergens in pollen help plants do more than make you sneeze

    “Are plants trying to kill us?” allergy sufferers often ask Deborah Devis.

    A plant molecular geneticist at the University of Adelaide’s Waite campus in Australia, Devis should know the answer better than most. She is chugging through the last few months of a Ph.D. that involves predicting how grasses use pollen proteins that make people sneeze, wheeze and weep for days on end.

    What...

    05/19/2019 - 08:00 Health, Plants, Immune Science
  • News

    Vaccines may help bats fight white nose syndrome

    Oral vaccines could give wild bats a better chance at surviving white nose syndrome, the fungal disease that has ravaged bat colonies in North America. In lab tests conducted on captured little brown bats, vaccination led to fewer infected bats developing lesions and more of the bats surviving, researchers report May 1 in Scientific Reports.

    White nose syndrome, caused by the fungus...

    05/17/2019 - 07:00 Animals, Biomedicine
  • News in Brief

    Some dog breeds may have trouble breathing because of a mutated gene

    Dogs with flat faces aren’t alone in their struggle to breathe. It turns out that Norwich terriers can develop the same wheezing — caused not by the shape of their snouts, but possibly by a wayward gene. 

    DNA from 401 Norwich terriers revealed that those suffering a respiratory tract disorder shared the same variant of gene ADAMTS3 that’s associated with swelling around airways. Nearly a...

    05/16/2019 - 14:00 Animals, Genetics
  • News

    Bloodthirsty bedbugs have feasted on prey for 100 million years

    The first bedbug infestations may have occurred in the beds of Cretaceous critters.

    Scientists previously assumed the bloodsuckers’ first hosts were bats. But a new genetic analysis of 34 bedbug species reveals that bedbugs appeared 30 million to 50 million years before the nocturnal mammals, says Michael Siva-Jothy, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Sheffield in England,...

    05/16/2019 - 13:47 Molecular Evolution, Animals
  • News

    Fossil teeth push the human-Neandertal split back to about 1 million years ago

    People and Neandertals separated from a common ancestor more than 800,000 years ago — much earlier than many researchers had thought.

    That conclusion, published online May 15 in Science Advances, stems from an analysis of early fossilized Neandertal teeth found at a Spanish site called Sima de los Huesos. During hominid evolution, tooth crowns changed in size and shape at a steady rate,...

    05/15/2019 - 14:00 Anthropology, Human Evolution
  • News

    China’s lunar rover may have found minerals from the moon’s mantle

    The first mission to the farside of the moon may have found bits of the moon’s interior on its surface.

    The Yutu-2 rover, deployed by the Chinese Chang’e-4 spacecraft that landed on the moon in January, detected soil that appears rich in minerals thought to make up the lunar mantle, researchers report in the May 16 Nature. Those origins, if confirmed, could offer insight into the moon’s...

    05/15/2019 - 13:00 Planetary Science