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E.g., 12/09/2016
E.g., 12/09/2016
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  • Science Ticker

    Graphene Silly Putty detects pitter-patter of spider footsteps

    Graphene-infused Silly Putty forms an electrical sensor that is sensitive enough to detect the gentle caresses of spider feet walking across it.

    Mixing graphene, or atom-thick sheets of carbon, and polysilicone, the substance found in the children’s toy Silly Putty, made it conduct electricity. Its electrical resistance was highly sensitive to pressure: Squishing the putty caused the...

    12/08/2016 - 14:00 Materials, Technology
  • News

    Early RNA may have used isolation strategy to defeat useless mutants

    Long before modern cells were around to house genetic material, tiny water droplets might have protected the first self-replicating molecules from parasitic mutants. New experimental evidence shows that such temporary compartments can help RNA molecules resist takeover by shorter, faster-replicating mutants, researchers report in the Dec. 9 Science.

    “We have a lot of theoretical papers...

    12/08/2016 - 14:00 Molecular Evolution, Chemistry
  • Context

    Health official calls on neuroscience to fight mental illness

    SAN DIEGO — Society’s record for protecting public health has been pretty good in the developed world, not so much in developing countries. That disparity has long been recognized.

    But there’s another disparity in society’s approach to public health — the divide between attention to traditional diseases and the resources devoted to mental disorders.

    “When it comes to mental health...

    12/08/2016 - 13:00 Neuroscience
  • The –est

    Oldest traces of smallpox virus found in child mummy

    A child mummy buried in a church crypt in Lithuania could hold the oldest genetic evidence of smallpox.

    Traces of the disease-causing variola virus linger in the mummy, which dates to about 1654, evolutionary geneticist Ana Duggan and colleagues report December 8 in Current Biology. Previously, a team of researchers had reported variola DNA in a roughly 300-year-old Siberian mummy.

    ...
    12/08/2016 - 12:00 Health, Anthropology
  • The –est

    Why crested penguins lay mismatched eggs

    In crested penguin families, moms heavily favor offspring No. 2 from the start, and a new analysis proposes why. The six or seven species of crested (Eudyptes) penguins practice the most extreme egg favoritism known among birds, says Glenn Crossin of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada.

    Females that lay two eggs produce a runty first egg weighing 18 to 57 percent less than the second...

    12/08/2016 - 11:00 Animals, Physiology
  • News in Brief

    Third kind of quasicrystal found in Russian meteorite

    Another “impossible” crystal has been found locked inside a Russian meteorite.

    The specimen is a quasicrystal, a type of material that shatters the rules of crystallography by having an ordered — yet never-repeating — arrangement of atoms. The new find is only the third natural quasicrystal ever found and is the first discovered in nature before being synthesized in a lab, researchers...

    12/08/2016 - 09:00 Earth, Chemistry, Condensed Matter
  • News in Brief

    Having an extra chromosome has a surprising effect on cancer

    SAN FRANCISCO — Having an extra chromosome may suppress cancer, as long as things don’t get stressful, a new study suggests. The finding may help scientists unravel a paradox: Cells with extra chromosomes grow slower than cells with the usual two copies of each chromosome, but cancer cells, which grow quickly, often have additional chromosomes. Researchers have thought that perhaps extra...

    12/07/2016 - 16:31 Cells, Cancer, Genetics
  • News

    Losing tropical forest might raise risks of human skin ulcers, deformed bones

    Clearing tropical forests may raise the risk of people being exposed to a gruesome disease called Buruli ulcer, a new study suggests.

    Mycobacterium ulcerans, the bacteria that cause Buruli skin lesions and bone deformities, can thrive in a wide range of wild creatures, especially tiny insects grazing on freshwater algae, says Aaron Morris, now at Imperial College London. Surveying more...

    12/07/2016 - 14:00 Ecology, Biomedicine, Conservation
  • News

    Brain waves show promise against Alzheimer’s protein in mice

    Flickering light kicks off brain waves that clean a protein related to Alzheimer’s disease out of mice’s brains, a new study shows. The results, described online December 7 in Nature, suggest a fundamentally new approach to counteracting Alzheimer’s.

    Many potential therapies involve drugs that target amyloid-beta, the sticky protein that accumulates in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients...

    12/07/2016 - 13:00 Neuroscience, Health
  • Wild Things

    Why a mountain goat is a better climber than you

    The mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus) might be the world’s best climber, able to scale near-vertical cliffs with an ease rivaled only by the world’s best human rock climbers — who have the advantage of safety equipment and opposable thumbs. Just how the goats manage such climbs has been somewhat of a mystery. Researchers suspected that the big muscles in the animals’ neck and shoulders and...

    12/07/2016 - 12:21 Animals