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  • Feature

    How did Earth get its water?

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    Earth — a planet of oceans, rivers and rainforests — grew up in an interplanetary desert.

    When the solar system formed about 4.6 billion years ago, shards of calcium- and aluminum-rich minerals stuck together, building ever-larger pebbles and boulders that smashed together and assembled the rocky planets...

    05/06/2015 - 11:14 Planetary Science, Astronomy
  • Feature

    Designer drugs hit dangerous lows to bring new highs

    The 18-year-old had stabbed himself four times in the neck and chest with a pair of scissors. Alone in his dorm room, he had suddenly felt trapped, convinced that the only way to get out was to kill himself.

    When he woke up hours later in a pool of blood, the psychedelic trip that had gripped him was waning. Horrified, he managed to call an ambulance. As he recovered, the college student...

    05/05/2015 - 15:00 Chemistry, Science & Society
  • News

    Tiny particles propel themselves upstream

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    Human-made microbeads don’t always go with the flow.

    Under certain conditions, the artificial particles can align themselves with a fluid’s flow and then swim upstream, researchers report May 1 in Science Advances. These particles represent a small step toward making more...

    05/01/2015 - 14:00 Physics, Condensed Matter
  • Wild Things

    Lazy sunfish are actually active predators

    If you spot an ocean sunfish (Mola mola) near the surface of the water, you might be amazed by its size. These are, after all, the biggest of all the teleost fish (the group of ray-finned fishes that includes many of the species we like to eat), and...

    05/01/2015 - 07:00 Animals, Oceans
  • Wild Things

    A protein battle underlies the beauty of orchids

    One of the main characteristics that make orchids so attractive to us and to pollinators is shape. Unlike a flower such as a daisy, orchids don’t have a uniform pattern of petals and sepals. Instead, one of the orchid flower petals has been modified into a lip that can serve as a...

    04/28/2015 - 16:00 Plants, Evolution
  • News

    Bees may like neonicotinoids, but some may be harmed

    Bees don’t have the mouthpart sensitivity to taste — and thus can’t avoid — nectar tainted with neonicotinoid pesticides, new lab tests indicate. And the charm of nicotine may even seduce bees into favoring pesticide-spiked nectar.

    Outdoor tests also show that neonicotinoid exposure for some wild bees can be worrisome, a second paper reports. Together, the studies renew questions about...

    04/22/2015 - 13:00 Animals, Conservation, Toxicology
  • Wild Things

    Growth of mining on land may promote invasions at sea

    Some 90 percent of the world’s trade spends at least part of its journey at sea. Ships carry everything from oil to...

    04/21/2015 - 19:46 Animals, Oceans
  • Growth Curve

    Science may get sidelined in artificial turf debate

    This guest post is from Science News chemistry and environment writer Beth Mole.

    The news and Internet are lush with worrisome reports about synthetic turf: Your child’s playground might be teeming with toxic chemicals. The city park could expose her to noxious dust. And if her soccer team plays on the fake fields, she could get cancer.

    Largely absent from...

    04/21/2015 - 15:52 Toxicology, Health
  • News in Brief

    Bits of bacterial DNA naturally lurk inside sweet potatoes

    Sweet potatoes farmed worldwide picked up a bit of genetic engineering — without human help.

    Samples collected from 291 cultivated sweet potatoes carry at least one stretch of DNA from Agrobacterium, says plant molecular biologist Godelieve Gheysen of Ghent University in Belgium. The Agrobacterium genus includes the main bacterial species that makes intentionally...

    04/20/2015 - 15:00 Plants, Genetics, Science & Society
  • News

    Natural acids in soil could protect rice from toxic nanoparticles

    A dose of dirt could defend rice plants from the damaging effects of toxic nanoparticles.

    Acids naturally found in the organic matter of soil, collectively called humic acid, can protect rice seedlings from the cell damage and stunted root growth caused by copper oxide nanoparticles, researchers report April 13 in...

    04/17/2015 - 14:30 Pollution, Toxicology