A molecule that could help build otherworldly life is present on Saturn’s moon Titan, researchers have discovered.
Vinyl cyanide, a compound predicted to form membranelike structures, is created in Titan’s upper atmosphere, scientists report July 28 in Science Advances. There’s enough vinyl cyanide (C2H3CN) in the moon’s liquid methane seas to make about 10 million cell-like balls per...
Science & the Public
A couple of weeks ago, an article in New York magazine laid out a horrific scenario of global warming. The photo at the top summed up the tone: A fossilized human skull, jaw gaping beneath aviator sunglasses, hovered over a caption warning that people could be “cooked to death from both inside and out” in a hotter climate.
If that’s not doom and gloom, I don’t know what is. Yet despite...
When I was pregnant, I spent a lot of time searching for good information about how to keep both my baby and myself healthy after birth. Googling “placenta” and “eat,” I got a list of stories that reached nearly opposite conclusions about the practice.
Some say eating the organ will replenish mom’s nutrients, increase breast milk production and even stave off postpartum depression....
News in Brief
The first evidence for an exomoon — a moon orbiting a planet orbiting a distant star — may have been spotted in data from the Kepler space telescope. But surprisingly, exomoons in general may be rare, at least around planets close to their stars.
Alex Teachey and David Kipping of Columbia University analyzed the dips in light from exoplanets passing, or transiting, in front of their...
A peek at tardigrades' genetic diaries may dispel a rumor about an amazing feat the tiny creatures were supposed to perform: borrowing large numbers of genes from other organisms.
Tardigrades — also known as water bears and moss piglets — hardly ever borrow DNA from other creatures, researchers report July 27 in PLOS Biology.
New analyses of DNA from two species of water bear,...
Like the surface of an alien planet, thin sheets of copper display a complex topography of ridges and valleys. These never-before-seen undulations may spell trouble for electronic gadgets: The zigzagging surface could contribute to the electrical resistance of miniature copper wires that snake throughout computer chips.
Using a scanning tunneling microscope, scientists observed nanoscale...
For a glue that holds up inside the body, turn to the humble slug, Arion subfuscus. A new super-sticky material mimics slug slime’s ability to stick on slick wet surfaces and could lead to more effective medical adhesives.
The material has two parts: a sticky layer that attaches to a surface, and a shock-absorbing layer that reduces strain. That makes the adhesive less...
DNA is setting the record straight on ancient Canaanites.
For the first time, scientists have deciphered the complete genetic instruction manuals of Canaanites. By comparing five Canaanite genomes with those of other ancient and modern populations, the researchers identified the Canaanites’ ancestors and discovered their descendants, modern Lebanese people.
The results, reported...
50 Years Ago
Hope from diabetic mice
[Millions of diabetics] could be indebted to a strain of diabetic mice being bred in Bar Harbor, Maine. In diabetes research, “this mouse is the best working model to date,” one of its discoverers, Dr. Katharine P. Hummel, says.… A satisfactory animal subject had eluded diabetes researchers, until the mouse was found. — Science News, August 12, 1967Update
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Galaxies may grow by swiping gas from their neighbors.
New simulations suggest that nearly half the matter in the Milky Way may have been siphoned from the gas of other galaxies. That gas provides the raw material that galaxies use to build their bulk. The finding, scheduled to appear in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, reveals a new, unexpected...