Out-of-whack microbes in the vagina can raise HIV risk — and now there’s evidence that the makeup of the penis microbiome matters, too. The greater the number of anaerobic bacteria tucked under the foreskin, the more likely an uncircumcised man is to become infected with the virus, researchers report July 25 in mBio.
“This mirrors what’s been seen in women, but it’s the first study of...
On September 9 of last year, in the middle of the morning, seismometers began lighting up around East Asia. From South Korea to Russia to Japan, geophysical instruments recorded squiggles as seismic waves passed through and shook the ground. It looked as if an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.2 had just happened. But the ground shaking had originated at North Korea’s nuclear weapons test site...
Scientists pour a lot of brainpower into understanding how their experimental equipment works.
You don’t want to be fooled into thinking you’ve made a great discovery because of some quirk in the apparatus you didn’t know about. Just the other day, a new paper published online suggested that the instruments used to detect gravitational waves exhibited such a quirk, tricking scientists...
Reviews & Previews
Making ContactSarah ScolesPegasus Books, $27.95
In Carl Sagan’s 1985 sci-fi novel Contact, a radio astronomer battles naysayers and funding setbacks to persist in her audacious plan — scanning the skies for signals from aliens. Sagan had real-life inspiration for his book (and the 1997 movie of the same name): astronomer Jill Tarter, who spearheaded the search for extraterrestrial...
Big, rogue planets — ones without parent stars — are rare.
A new census of free-floating Jupiter-mass planets determined that these worlds are a tenth as common as previous estimates suggested. The results appear online July 24 in Nature.
Planets can go rogue in two ways: They can get kicked out of their parent planetary systems or form when a ball of gas and dust collapses (SN: 4/...
Walls can’t talk, but scientists can now read stories written in their subatomic particles. And that could make it harder to store radioactive material in secret.
Nuclear radiation rearranges the electrons in insulators such as brick, glass and porcelain. So comparing the positions of electrons in atoms at different spots on walls, windows and floors could provide a rough snapshot of...
Reviews & Previews
The Oxford Illustrated History of ScienceIwan Rhys Morus, ed.Oxford Univ., $39.95
Books about the history of science, like many other histories, must contend with the realization that others have come before. Their tales have already been told. So such a book is worth reading, or buying, only if it offers something more than the same old stories.
In this case, The Oxford...
When faced with rushing floodwaters, fire ants are known to build two types of structures. A quickly formed raft lets the insects float to safety. And once they find a branch or tree to hold on to, the ants might form a tower up to 30 ants high, with eggs, brood and queen tucked safely inside. Neither structure requires a set of plans or a foreman ant leading the construction...
Synestia\sin-es-ti-ə \ n.07/21/2017 - 09:00 Planetary Science
A large spinning hunk of hot, vaporized rock that forms when rocky, planet-sized objects collide
Earth may have taken on a jelly doughnut shape early in its history. The rocky planet was spinning through space about 4.5 billion years ago when it smacked into a Mars-sized hunk of rotating rock called Theia, according to one theory (SN: 4/15/17, p. 18). That hit...
When my younger daughter was around 6 months old, we gave her mashed up prune. She grimaced and shivered a little, appearing to be absolutely disgusted. But then she grunted and reached for more.
Most babies are ready for solid food around 6 months of age, and feeding them can be fun. One of the more entertaining approaches does not involve a spoon. Called baby-led weaning, it involves...