A pair of bacterial genes may enable genetic engineering strategies for curbing populations of virus-transmitting mosquitoes.
Bacteria that make the insects effectively sterile have been used to reduce mosquito populations. Now, two research teams have identified genes in those bacteria that may be responsible for the sterility, the groups report online February 27 in Nature and Nature...
Black holes are speed eaters, usually scarfing down a star in less than a year. But a supermassive black hole in a galaxy about 1.8 billion light-years away has been gorging on a single star for more than 10 years – longer than any other observed supermassive black hole meal.
Astronomers detected the extraordinary feast in X-ray images from ESA’s XMM-Newton spacecraft and NASA’s...
A person growing up in Peru in the 1970s or 1980s probably didn’t eat anchoveta, the local species of anchovies. The stinky, oily fish was a food fit only for animals or the very poor. The anchoveta fishery may have been (and still is, in many years) the world’s largest, but it wasn’t one that put food on the table.
For thousands of years, though, anchoveta fed the people of Peru. It was...
On the Scene
The planning for our supernova special issue began months ago. In one early meeting, astronomy writer Christopher Crockett lit up as he told the story of the night supernova 1987A was discovered. The account has all the ingredients of a blockbuster. There’s a struggle (with an observatory door), the element of surprise (an unexpected burst on a photographic plate), disbelief (by our...
Lurking beneath New Zealand is a long-hidden continent called Zealandia, geologists say. But since nobody is in charge of officially designating a new continent, individual scientists will ultimately have to judge for themselves.
A team of geologists pitches the scientific case for the new continent in the March/April issue of GSA Today, arguing that Zealandia is a continuous expanse of...
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Even tiny brains can learn strange and tricky stuff, especially by watching tiny experts.
Buff-tailed bumblebees got several chances to watch a trained bee roll a ball to a goal. These observers then quickly mastered the unusual task themselves when given a chance, researchers report in the Feb. 24 Science. And most of the newcomers even improved on the goal-sinking...
Clusters of a toxic bacterial protein have a surprising structure, differing from similar clumps associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s in humans, scientists report in the Feb. 24 Science.
These clusters, called amyloids, are defined in part by their structure: straight regions of protein chains called beta strands, folded accordion-style into flat beta sheets, which then stack up...
News in Brief
Humans and Neandertals are still in an evolutionary contest, a new study suggests.
Geneticist Joshua Akey of the University of Washington in Seattle and colleagues examined gene activity of more than 700 genes in which at least one person carried a human and a Neandertal version of the gene. Human versions of some genes are more active than Neandertal versions, especially in the brain...
A preschool classroom is an ecosystem unlike any other. Scents of glue and snack time waft through the air. Bright, clunky art papers the walls. Fun-sized furniture makes visiting adults feel like awkward giants. In the name of science, a team of psychologists spent an entire year inside two such rooms, meticulously documenting changes in preschoolers’ personalities.
By the end of the...
Reviews & Previews
The 20th century will go down in history — it pretty much already has — as the century of the physicist. Physicists’ revolutionizing of the scientific world view with relativity and quantum mechanics might have been enough to warrant that conclusion. Future historians may emphasize even more, though, the role of physicists in war and government. Two such physicists, one born at the century’s...