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  • Screentime

    Website tests predictive powers of the hive mind

    As the saying goes, “It’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.” The website Metaculus.com aims to make this challenging task easier by harnessing collective wisdom.

    Metaculus solicits answers to questions about the future — on topics spanning science, politics and economics — and combines these predictions to infer the likely...

    07/26/2016 - 06:00 Numbers, Science & Society
  • Reviews & Previews

    New books deliver double dose of venomous animal facts

    In the arms race of life, a number of animals use venom as a weapon to paralyze prey and jump-start digestion. Meanwhile, venom also helps a variety of other seemingly defenseless creatures improve their odds against larger, stronger or more aggressive foes.

    In Venomous, molecular biologist Christie Wilcox surveys the animal kingdom’s wide array of biochemical warriors, from...

    07/24/2016 - 08:00 Animals
  • Wild Things

    When bird populations shrink, females fly away

    In some populations of birds, males may wonder why they can’t find a mate. It’s not that they’re unattractive or can’t sing the right song. It’s that females are in short supply.

    This phenomenon is a common one in birds, particularly in threatened species and among populations that are small or fragmented. And scientists weren’t sure why this inequality crops up. Perhaps females are more...

    07/13/2016 - 07:41 Animals
  • News in Brief

    For cleanest hands, squirt and count to 30

    BOSTON — You’ve heard the advice: For clean hands, scrub with soap and water for as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. But is hand sanitizer just squirt and go? Finally, there’s a scientific answer: To kill bacteria, rub for at least 15 to 30 seconds. After 45 seconds, you’re not doing...

    06/20/2016 - 15:16 Microbiology, Health
  • Feature

    Juno is closing in on Jupiter

    Ancient stargazers chose well when they named the solar system’s largest planet, Jupiter, after the king of the Roman gods.

    With more than twice the mass of all the other planets combined, Jupiter reigns supreme. It’s the most influential member of our planetary family — after the sun. Jupiter might have hurled...

    06/16/2016 - 10:48 Planetary Science
  • Feature

    Vaccines may offer defense against dengue, Zika and chikungunya

    Humans can’t easily protect themselves from the most dangerous species on Earth. The predator slips invisibly into homes, quietly stalks its prey and bites before a victim knows what happened. There’s little chance of escape.

    The attacker is Aedes aegypti, a mosquito that has, over time, developed a taste for people. It’s a city dweller that hovers in undisturbed crannies and...

    06/15/2016 - 08:00 Immune Science, Health, Clinical Trials
  • Feature

    Scientists dig up proteins from the past

    The influenza virus is a quick-change artist. In a few decades, its genome can evolve as much as animal genomes can over millions of years. That means that the viral proteins, including those that alert our bodies to an infection, constantly reinvent themselves, threatening our immune systems and frustrating vaccine developers.

    For Jesse...

    06/01/2016 - 07:00 Molecular Evolution
  • Science Stats

    U.S. weather has gotten more pleasant, but will soon worsen

    Americans have climate change to thank for a decades-long spate of milder winters. Around 80 percent of U.S. residents live in counties where the weather has become more pleasant over the last four decades (see map). That trend won’t last, however: Researchers predict in the April 21 Nature that 88 percent of Americans will experience...

    06/01/2016 - 06:00 Climate
  • The Science Life

    Biologist Kate Rubins’ big dream takes her to the space station

    When molecular biologist Kate Rubins blasts off from Kazakhstan on June 24, strapped into the Soyuz spacecraft bound for the International Space Station, the trip will cap off seven years of preparing — and 30 years of hoping.

    As a child, Rubins plastered her Napa, Calif., bedroom with pictures of the...

    05/30/2016 - 08:00 Science & Society, Cells
  • News in Brief

    ‘Vocal fry’ makes female singers seem expressive

    SALT LAKE CITY— Oh baby, baby. Britney Spears’ famous croak could actually be giving listeners a sign.

    Spears’ signature sound, an effect called “vocal fry,” makes female singers sound more expressive, vocologists John Nix and Mackenzie Parrott of the University of Texas at San Antonio reported May 24 at a...

    05/26/2016 - 13:09 Psychology