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...
News in Brief
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...
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...
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...
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.
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...
The Science Life
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...
News in Brief
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...
Forget it, peacocks. Nice try, elk. Sure, sexy feathers and antlers are showy, but the sperm of a fruit fly could be the most over-the-top, exaggerated male ornamentation of all.
In certain fruit fly species, such as Drosophila bifurca, males measuring just a few millimeters produce sperm with a tail as long as 5.8-centimeters, researchers report May 26 in Nature....
This guest post is by Bruce Bower, who has covered behavioral sciences for Science News for 32 years.
For a landmark 1977 paper, psychologist Andrew Meltzoff stuck his tongue out at 2- to 3-week-old babies. Someone had to do it. After watching Meltzoff razz them for 15 seconds, babies often stuck out their own tongues within the next 2½ minutes.