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  • News in Brief

    New clues illuminate mysteries of ancient Egyptian portraits

    WASHINGTON — Scientists are getting a clearer picture of how ancient Egyptians painted lifelike portraits that were buried with mummies of the depicted individuals. These paintings sharply departed from Egyptians’ previous, simpler artworks and were among the first examples of modern Western portraits, archaeologist and materials scientist Marc Walton reported February 14 at...

    02/14/2016 - 16:29 Technology, Science & Society
  • Scicurious

    Sometimes busting myths can backfire

    It was the mic drop heard ’round the Internet.

    On January 25, rapper B.o.B (Bobby Ray Simmons) sent out a series of statements on Twitter stating why he thinks the Earth is flat. 

    02/14/2016 - 13:00 Science & Society
  • News in Brief

    Re-creating womb sounds perks preemies’ attention

    WASHINGTON — Recordings of their mothers’ voices and heartbeats may help premature babies pay attention to speech, new research suggests.

    Premature babies do better if their acoustical environment approximates what the babies would have heard in the womb, neuroscientist Amir Lahav said at a news conference February 13 at the annual meeting of the American Association for...

    02/14/2016 - 11:47 Neuroscience, Human Development, Health
  • News in Brief

    Tiny bare-bones brains made in lab dishes

    WASHINGTON — Tiny orbs of brain cells swirling in lab dishes may offer scientists a better way to study the complexities of the human brain. Toxicologist Thomas Hartung described these minibrains, grown from stem cells derived from people’s skin cells, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

    Insights from experiments on animals...

    02/14/2016 - 11:10 Neuroscience, Biomedicine
  • News in Brief

    Planets may emerge from stellar duo gathering icy dust

    WASHINGTON — A pair of stars is setting up an icy planetary construction zone, new data suggest. Carbon monoxide gas is freezing onto tiny dust grains orbiting the stellar duo. The frozen particles might eventually give rise to a population of comets or even a new planet.

    A belt of gas and dust encircles the binary star HD 142527, about 450 light-years away in the constellation Lupus....

    02/13/2016 - 16:54 Astronomy, Exoplanets
  • News

    Saving salamanders from amphibian killer may take extreme measures

    WASHINGTON — North America, a Garden of Eden for salamanders, faces a dire threat from a recently discovered fungal disease. But biologists say that lessons learned from the last worldwide wave of amphibian die-offs are helping to rush a new animal import ban and other measures into effect that could prevent the introduction and spread of the deadly disease here.

    Fears of widespread die-...

    02/13/2016 - 16:25 Animals, Conservation
  • News

    Early exposure to signing helps deaf kids on mental task

    WASHINGTON — Deaf children who learn to sign early may boost their brainpower in ways unrelated to language.

    “Most deaf children are born to hearing families, and most hearing parents do not sign with their newborn deaf children,” clinical neuropsychologist Peter Hauser, who is deaf, explained February 12 at the...

    02/13/2016 - 13:21 Neuroscience, Biomedicine, Health
  • News

    Unknowns about Zika virus continue to frustrate

    WASHINGTON — As worry about the Zika virus outbreak continues to ratchet up, scientists are scrambling to understand what threats the virus poses and how to stop it from spreading. But researchers are coming up with more questions than answers.

    “It clearly is a cause for huge concern,” World Health Organization official Christopher Dye said February 12 in a news...

    02/12/2016 - 17:28 Health
  • News

    Vaping linked to host of new health risks

    WASHINGTON — Many people have turned to electronic cigarettes in hopes of avoiding the heart and cancer risks associated with smoking conventional tobacco products. But vaping appears far from benign, a trio of toxicologists reported February 11 and 12 at the American Association for the Advancement...

    02/12/2016 - 17:06 Toxicology, Genetics, Health
  • Growth Curve

    The best advice on Zika virus and pregnancy is to know the unknowns

    Everything about the Zika virus is scary. The fact that Zika covertly infects most people with nary a fever is frightening. What the virus seems capable of doing to fetuses is profoundly inhumane and terrifying. But scariest of all — for me, anyway — is the unknown.

    It is deeply unsettling to...

    02/12/2016 - 16:05 Health, Biomedicine