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  • News

    New cancer drugs wake up sleeping killer T cells

    Cancer relies on a bag of tricks that can render it virtually invisible to the body’s disease-fighting apparatus. Tumors even co-opt “checkpoint” proteins found on the immune system’s T cells. These proteins normally prevent the immune system from running amok. When activated, these checkpoints can turn a T cell from a bristling warrior ready for a fight into a dozing sentinel — and cancer...

    06/25/2015 - 08:30 Cancer, Clinical Trials
  • Wild Things

    Beauty drives orchids towards extinction

    At plant markets in Thailand, exquisite orchids are for sale. Those orchids are unlike the ones you can buy at many U.S. shops; many of them are rare species that were collected from the wild. Selling them is illegal.

    This trade is “invisible” because hardly any of it makes it into government statistics that are supposed to document illegal trade in wild flora, Jacob Phelps and Edward...

    06/23/2015 - 12:16 Plants, Conservation
  • Feature

    Rehab for psychopaths

    Nudity, mind-altering drugs and encounter groups bring out the worst in psychopaths behind bars. That’s not a pitch for a new reality television show — not yet, at least. It’s an evidence-based conclusion. An infamous experimental treatment program for violent criminals, conducted mainly from 1968 to 1978 in a Canadian maximum security psychiatric facility 90 miles north of Toronto, tried...

    06/17/2015 - 07:30 Mental Health
  • Wild Things

    Could the dinos of ‘Jurassic World’ become invasive?

    Last weekend I watched Jurassic Park for the first time in years. Still awed by the seemingly realistic, long-extinct animals, I started wondering: What would happen if they escaped the remote Pacific island where they had been created and made it to land? The only dino in the movie series to make it to a continent was a ...

    06/12/2015 - 14:45 Animals, Plants
  • Feature

    Rendezvous with Pluto

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    Tiny, far-flung Pluto is about to have a visitor — at least for a few hours.

    On July 14, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will reach the dwarf planet and try to learn all it can about Pluto and its five known moons. Then the probe will leave Pluto behind, vanishing into the frigid darkness beyond the planets.

    In its wake, New Horizons will...

    06/12/2015 - 11:55 Planetary Science, Astronomy
  • Culture Beaker

    Attempt to shame journalists with chocolate study is shameful

    “I Fooled Millions Into Thinking Chocolate Helps Weight Loss. Here's How.”

    That’s the headline on a May 27 article by science journalist John Bohannon that revealed the backstory of a sting operation he conducted earlier this year. Bohannon and a...

    05/28/2015 - 18:09 Science & Society, Health
  • Culture Beaker

    The Dress divided the Internet, but it’s really about subtraction

    It was the dress that launched a million tweets. In February, a mother-in-law-to-be sent a picture of a dress she was considering wearing to her daughter Grace’s wedding to Grace and her fiancé. The couple couldn’t agree on the dress’s color: was it blue and black or white and gold? (White and gold, obviously.) The disagreement prompted the daughter to post the picture on social media,...

    05/14/2015 - 12:49 Science & Society, Neuroscience
  • Wild Things

    An island in the Maldives is made of parrotfish poop

    Vakkaru Island in the Maldives is little more than a spit of sand rising above the ocean, topped with a bit of vegetation and surrounded by coral reefs. Vakkaru is a reef island, which means that it’s made up of sediment produced on those reefs. There are around 1,200 islands like it in the Maldives, clustered in groups along the region’s numerous atolls. But where does the sediment come from...

    05/12/2015 - 14:30 Animals, Oceans
  • News

    Editing human germline cells sparks ethics debate

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    Sci-fi novels and films like Gattaca no longer have a monopoly on genetically engineered humans. Real research scripts about editing the human genome are now appearing in scientific and medical journals. But the reviews are mixed.

    In Gattaca, nearly everyone was genetically altered, their DNA adjusted to prevent disease,...

    05/06/2015 - 16:17 Genetics, Science & Society
  • Science Ticker

    MESSENGER mission ends with crash landing on Mercury

    The MESSENGER spacecraft crashed into the surface of Mercury on April 30, bringing its four-year exploration of the innermost planet to a meteoric finale. The planned rendezvous with the surface of the sun-scorched world came after the probe exhausted the last of its fuel and succumbed to gravity’s pull.

    Launched in 2004, MESSENGER is...

    04/30/2015 - 15:44 Planetary Science