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  • How Bizarre

    Weird wave found in Venus’ wind-whipped atmosphere

    With scorching temperatures and a mind-numbingly slow rotation (one Venus day lasts 243 Earth days), Venus was already a contender for weirdest planet in the solar system. Now add a giant arc-shaped structure to its list of oddities. The mysterious 10,000-kilometer-long structure was so big that it appeared to stretch between the planet’s poles. And it didn’t budge, even as winds in the planet...

    01/17/2017 - 18:11 Planetary Science, Astronomy
  • Feature

    Evidence falls into place for once and future supercontinents

    Look at any map of the Atlantic Ocean, and you might feel the urge to slide South America and Africa together. The two continents just beg to nestle next to each other, with Brazil’s bulge locking into West Africa’s dimple. That visible clue, along with several others, prompted Alfred Wegener to propose over a century ago that the continents had once been joined in a single enormous landmass....

    01/11/2017 - 08:38 Earth
  • Feature

    Year in review: Gravitational waves offer new cosmic views

    The secrets gleaned from the universe’s most mysterious giants are incongruously subtle when witnessed at Earth: Detectors budge by a tiny fraction of a proton’s breadth, outputting a feeble, birdlike chirp.

    For centuries, astronomers have peered out into the universe almost exclusively by observing its light. But 2016’s announcement of the first detection of gravitational waves,...

    12/14/2016 - 07:41 Physics, Astronomy
  • Feature

    Year in review: Sea ice loss will shake up ecosystems

    In a better world, it would be the big news of the year just to report that Arctic sea ice shrank to 4.14 million square kilometers this summer, well below the 1981–2010 average of 6.22 million square kilometers (SN Online: 9/19/16). But in this world of changing climate, extreme summer ice loss has become almost expected. More novel in 2016 were glimpses of the complex biological consequences...

    12/14/2016 - 07:37 Climate, Animals, Plants
  • Science & the Public

    You’ve probably been tricked by fake news and don’t know it

    If you spent Thanksgiving trying in vain to convince relatives that the Pope didn’t really endorse Donald Trump or that Hillary Clinton didn’t sell weapons to ISIS, fake news has already weaseled its way into your brain.

    Those “stories” and other falsified news outperformed much of the real news on Facebook before the 2016 U.S. presidential election. And on Twitter, an analysis by...

    12/04/2016 - 06:00 Psychology, Science & Society
  • Feature

    Animals give clues to the origins of human number crunching

    When Christian Agrillo runs number-related experiments in his lab, he wishes his undergraduate subjects good luck. For certain tests, that’s about all he says. Giving instructions to the people would be unfair to the fish.

    Agrillo, of the University of Padua in Italy, is finishing up several years of pitting humans against fish in trials of their abilities to compare quantities. He can’t...

    11/29/2016 - 14:00 Animals, Evolution, Neuroscience, Numbers
  • News in Brief

    Despite Alzheimer’s plaques, some seniors remain mentally sharp

    SAN DIEGO — A small number of people maintain razor-sharp memories into their 90s, despite having brains chock-full of the plaques and tangles linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers suspect that these people’s brains are somehow impervious to the usual devastation thought to be caused by those plaques and tangles.

    Researchers studied the brains of people 90 years old or older who had...

    11/16/2016 - 13:24 Neuroscience, Health
  • News

    Protein linked to Parkinson’s travels from gut to brain

    SAN DIEGO — Over the course of months, clumps of a protein implicated in Parkinson’s disease can travel from the gut into the brains of mice, scientists have found.

    The results, reported November 14 at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, suggest that in some cases, Parkinson’s may get its start in the gut. That’s an intriguing concept, says neuroscientist John Cryan of...

    11/16/2016 - 12:30 Neuroscience, Health
  • News

    Sounds and glowing screens impair mouse brains

    SAN DIEGO — Mice raised in cages bombarded with glowing lights and sounds have profound brain abnormalities and behavioral trouble. Hours of daily stimulation led to behaviors reminiscent of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, scientists reported November 14 at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

    Certain kinds of sensory stimulation, such as sights and sounds, are...

    11/15/2016 - 17:30 Neuroscience, Human Development
  • News in Brief

    Zap to the head leads to fat loss

    SAN DIEGO — A nerve-zapping headset caused people to shed fat in a small preliminary study.

    Six people who had received the stimulation lost on average about 8 percent of the fat on their trunks in four months, scientists reported November 12 at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

    The headset stimulated the vestibular nerve, which runs just behind the ears. That...

    11/14/2016 - 17:53 Neuroscience, Health