Beliefs in all-knowing gods that punish wrongdoers helped enable the rise of modern civilizations, a new cross-cultural study suggests.
Cooperation among throngs of strangers in expanding societies required a common faith in moralistic gods, say sociocultural anthropologist Benjamin Purzycki of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and his colleagues. To believers, these gods...
Humans started hunting with bows and arrows tens of thousands of years ago. Then, at some point, we realized that the arrows were even more effective at bringing down large game if tainted with poison. There were plenty of plant extracts that served as sources for deadly chemicals, such as...
Letters to the Editor
Tussle over top spot
The New Horizons mission to Pluto beat out the breakthrough gene editor CRISPR for the top spot in our list of the 25 most important stories of 2015 (...
Reading Chris Samoray’s deep dive into the surprising new marine habitat created by human pollution, I found myself repeating Jeff Goldblum’s famous line...
Collagen, best known as the key protein in skin, also protects against loose bits of plaque that can cause heart attacks. New images (below) of human arteries hardened by plaque illustrate the importance of collagen (green). The plaques (red and orange) in the left two micrographs are stable, while the plaques in the photos on the right are vulnerable to breaking away from the blood vessel...
In the cold periphery of the solar system, two enigmatic sentinels saunter around the sun. One circuit along their vast orbits takes on the order of a century. Seasons are measured in decades. At such great distances from Earth, these worlds give up their secrets slowly. While every other planet in our solar system has been repeatedly poked and prodded by orbiters and landers, Neptune and...
After all those years of people looking into microscopes at bacteria, it turns out that some of the bacteria are (sort of) looking back.
Synechocystisbacteria focus light in a roughly eyeball-like process, says Conrad Mullineaux of Queen Mary University of London. Light shining through their spherical cells focuses on the opposite side,...
News in Brief
TROMSØ, Norway — A novel form of the “urban heat island” effect might contribute to why the far north is warming faster than the rest of the globe, a study of five Arctic cities finds.
Sunlight can heat dense building materials. When night falls, buildings will release some of their solar energy into the air. This helps explain why urban centers tend to be a few degrees...
Oceanfront property doesn’t come cheap. Except, perhaps, for some seafaring microbes.
Steady streams of tiny plastic pieces making their way into the ocean give microbial squatters a place to take up residence. Each plastic home comes equipped with a solid surface to live on in an otherwise watery world. These floating synthetic dwellings and their microbial inhabitants have a name: the...