Science & the Public
In 1950, Science News ran a story showing for the first time that a potent antibiotic could do more than knock out disease. New animal experiments, we reported, “cast the antibiotic in a spectacular new role” as a livestock growth promoter. Lacing the food of hogs with trace quantities of this drug increased meat yields by up to 50 percent,...
03/23/2012 - 13:30
Humans & Society, Nutrition, Earth & Environment, Biomedicine, Agriculture
Researchers think they now know why a particularly virulent form of E. coli that swept through northern Germany last May was so hard to trace: The germs responsible eluded detection by going into a self-induced deep sleep.
Two new studies show that when stressed, E. coli can turn off most signs of life. That’s a problem for food-safety officials because their germ-screening...
12/06/2011 - 11:04
Nutrition, Earth & Environment
Obesity subtly diminishes memory and other features of thinking and reasoning even among seemingly healthy people, an international team of scientists reports. At least some of these impairments appear reversible through weight loss. Researchers also report one likely mechanism for those cognitive deficits: damage to the wiring that links the brain’s information-processing regions.
A number of...
03/25/2011 - 12:00
Nutrition, Body & Brain
Sharks, billfish, cod, tuna and other fish-eating fish — the sea’s equivalents to lions on the Serengeti — dominated the marine world as recently as four decades ago. They culled sick, lame and old animals and kept populations of marine herbivores in check, preventing marine analogs of antelopes from overgrazing their environment.
But the reign of large predators now appears over — probably...
03/25/2011 - 11:51
When it comes to weight management, the timing of dining is pivotal, a new study indicates. At least in rodents, food proved especially fattening when consumed at the wrong time of day.
As nocturnal animals, mice normally play and forage at night, often in complete darkness. With even dim chronic illumination of their nighttime environment, however, the animals’ hormonal dinner bells rang at the...
10/11/2010 - 15:02
Nutrition, Earth & Environment, Body & Brain
Science & the Public
CHICAGO Millions of Americans start their day with a cup of coffee and then reach for refills when their energy or attention flags. But new research in rats suggests that for the aging brain, coffee may serve as more than a mere stimulant. It can boost memory and the signaling essential to motor coordination.
But here's the rub: If the same effects hold for humans, downing a morning cup or two...
07/22/2010 - 16:11
Body & Brain, Chemistry, Nutrition, Humans & Society
Researchers have unearthed the planet's oldest-known intact biological macromolecules, microscopic bits of cellulose from 253-million-year-old salt deposits in the southwestern United States.The remarkable preservation of the material suggests that under the right conditions, cellulose could last more than 1 billion years. Such a long-lived molecule, a chain of simple sugars, might give...
04/02/2008 - 14:40
The thermoelectric effect can produce small amounts of electricity from almost any source of heat, but its low efficiency has so far limited its uses. A team has now found a simple way to make one thermoelectric alloy more efficient.When two ends of a stick of a thermoelectric material are exposed to different temperatures, a voltage appears. The electrons in the stick act like the molecules in...
03/26/2008 - 11:25
Imagine discovering a mammal without mammary glands or an insect with eight legs. Aquatic herbs in the genus Hydatella pose a similar paradox—they lack a defining developmental feature of flowering plants, raising questions about their evolution and rampant speciation during the past 135 million years.Evolutionary biologists group together organisms that share unique traits, such as...
03/19/2008 - 13:25
Science & the Public
“Can Meat and Fish Consumption Be Sustainable?” That’s the provocative title of a press release just sent to us by the Worldwatch Institute, a small but by now venerable think tank that focuses on natural resource issues.
It’s also the theme of a chapter in Worldwatch’s 2008 State of the World report, its 25th annual book-length analysis of resource trends and economics. Here, its analysts take...
03/13/2008 - 12:21
Other, Earth & Environment, Nutrition, Humans & Society