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  • Science Stats

    Too many stinkbugs spoil the wine

    How many stressed-out stinkbugs does it take to spoil a batch of wine? More than three per grape cluster, new research says. 

    Stinkbugs are a pest among vintners because of the bugs’ taste for wine grapes and namesake foul smell. When accidentally harvested with the grapes and fermented during the wine-making process, the live insects can release their stink and ruin the wine (SN: 5/5/07...

    02/22/2017 - 07:00 Animals, Agriculture
  • News in Brief

    Howler monkeys may owe their color vision to leaf hue

    BOSTON — A taste for reddish young leaves might have pushed howler monkeys toward full-spectrum color vision. The ability to tell red from green could have helped howlers pick out the more nutritious, younger leaves, researchers reported February 19 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. That’s a skill their insect-eating close relatives probably didn...

    02/21/2017 - 17:59 Evolution, Animals
  • News

    Power may have passed via women in ancient Chaco Canyon society

    A maternal dynasty ruled one of the earliest and most mysterious civilizations in the Americas, centered in New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon, for more than three centuries, researchers say.

    DNA extracted from the bones of individuals buried inside a massive Chaco stone pueblo or great house, along with new radiocarbon dates for interred bones, indicate that royal status ran through a particular...

    02/21/2017 - 17:15 Anthropology, Genetics
  • News

    Low-status chimps revealed as trendsetters

    Chimps with little social status influence their comrades’ behavior to a surprising extent, a new study suggests.

    In groups of captive chimps, a method for snagging food from a box spread among many individuals who saw a low-ranking female peer demonstrate the technique, say primatologist Stuart Watson of the University of St. Andrews in Fife, Scotland, and colleagues. But in other...

    02/21/2017 - 11:00 Anthropology, Animals
  • Feature

    New, greener catalysts are built for speed

    Platinum, one of the rarest and most expensive metals on Earth, may soon find itself out of a job. Known for its allure in engagement rings, platinum is also treasured for its ability to jump-start chemical reactions. It’s an excellent catalyst, able to turn standoffish molecules into fast friends. But Earth’s supply of the metal is limited, so scientists are trying to coax materials that aren...

    02/21/2017 - 09:00 Chemistry, Materials, Sustainability
  • It's Alive

    Coconut crab pinches like a lion, eats like a dumpster diver

    A big coconut crab snaps its outsized left claw as hard as a lion can bite, new measurements suggest. So what does a land crab the size of a small house cat do with all that pinch power?

    For starters, it protests having its claw-force measured, says Shin-ichiro Oka of the Okinawa Churashima Foundation in Motobu, Japan. “The coconut crab is very shy,” he says. It doesn’t attack people...

    02/21/2017 - 07:00 Animals, Ecology, Biophysics
  • News

    Enzymes aid rice plants’ arsenic defenses

    BOSTON — Rooted in place, plants can’t run away from arsenic-tainted soil — but they’re far from helpless. Scientists have identified enzymes that help rice plant roots tame arsenic, converting it into a form that can be pushed back into the soil. That leaves less of the toxic element to spread into the plants’ grains, where it can pose a health risk to humans, researchers reported February 17...

    02/19/2017 - 12:08 Plants
  • News in Brief

    New imaging technique catches DNA ‘blinking’ on

    BOSTON — A new imaging technique takes advantage of DNA’s natural ability to “blink” in response to stimulating light.  The new approach will allow unprecedented views of genetic material and other cellular players. It’s the first method to resolve features smaller than 10 nanometers, biomedical engineer Vadim Backman said February 17 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the...

    02/19/2017 - 10:39 Cells, Chemistry, Biophysics
  • News

    Microbes survived inside giant cave crystals for up to 50,000 years

    BOSTON — Microbes found stowed inside giant crystals in caves in Chihuahua, Mexico, may have survived there for tens of thousands of years. The microorganisms, which appear to be vastly different from nearly all life-forms found on Earth, offer a good indication of how resilient life can be in extremely harsh environments, including those found on other planets.

    “These organisms are so...

    02/18/2017 - 12:55 Microbes, Genetics, Astrobiology
  • News

    Europa lander mission takes another step toward reality

    BOSTON — For the first time since the Viking missions to Mars in the 1970s, NASA is making the search for evidence of life on another world the primary science goal of a space mission. The target world is Jupiter’s moon Europa, considered possibly habitable because of its subsurface ocean.

    The proposed mission, which could be operational in the next two decades, calls for a lander with...

    02/18/2017 - 11:09 Planetary Science, Technology