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  • On the Scene

    The stories of supernova 1987A, as told by Science News

    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...

    02/24/2017 - 11:51
  • News

    Newly identified continent Zealandia faces a battle for recognition

    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...

    02/24/2017 - 06:00 Earth
  • News

    Score! Bumblebees see how to sink ball in goal, then do it better

    View the video

    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...

    02/23/2017 - 14:32 Animals
  • News

    Bacteria’s amyloids display surprising structure

    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...

    02/23/2017 - 14:00 Biophysics
  • News in Brief

    Human genes often best Neandertal ones in brain, testes

    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...

    02/23/2017 - 12:00 Genetics
  • Growth Curve

    A preschooler’s bubbly personality may rub off on friends

    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...

    02/23/2017 - 08:00 Human Development, Health
  • Reviews & Previews

    Physics greats of the 20th century mixed science and public service

    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...

    02/23/2017 - 06:00 History of Science, Science & Society, Physics
  • News

    Questions remain about the benefits of taking testosterone

    As a treatment for the ailments of aging, testosterone’s benefits are hit or miss.

    For men with low testosterone, the hormone therapy is helpful for some health problems, but not so much for others, researchers report in five papers published February 21 in JAMA and JAMA Internal Medicine. Testosterone therapy was good for the bones, but didn’t help memory. It remedied anemia and was...

    02/22/2017 - 17:28 Health
  • News

    Seven Earth-sized planets orbit nearby supercool star

    A nearby ultracool star harbors seven Earth-sized planets, three with orbits that potentially put them in a habitable zone. That makes the system, around a star called TRAPPIST-1, a prime target in the search for signs of alien life. Its discovery also hints that many more cousins of Earth may be out there than astronomers thought.

    “It’s rather stunning that the system has so many Earth-...

    02/22/2017 - 13:00 Exoplanets, Astronomy
  • Editor's Note

    Science’s questions rarely have clear, easy answers

    There are few simple answers in science. Even seemingly straightforward questions, when probed by people in search of proof, lead to more questions. Those questions lead to nuances, layers of complexity and, more often than we might expect, conclusions that contradict initial intuition.

    In the 1990s, researchers asking “How do we fight oxygen-hungry cancer cells?” offered an obvious...

    02/22/2017 - 12:47 Science & Society