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  • Feature

    DNA evidence is rewriting domestication origin stories

    One lab full of rats looks pretty much the same as another. But visiting a lab in Siberia, geneticist Alex Cagan can distinguish rats bred to be tame from those bred to be aggressive as soon as he opens the lab door.

    “It’s a completely different response immediately,” he says. All of the tame rats “come to the front of the cage very inquisitively.” The aggressive rats scurry to the backs...

    07/06/2017 - 12:00 Genetics, Animals
  • Feature

    Yes, statins protect hearts. But critics question their expanding use

    Cholesterol is so important to life that practically every human cell makes it. Cells use the compound to keep their membranes porous and springy, and to produce hormones and other vital substances. The body can make all the cholesterol it needs, but Americans tend to have a surplus, thanks in large part to too little exercise and too much meat, cheese and grease. Fifty years ago, researchers...

    05/03/2017 - 07:00 Health, Biomedicine
  • News

    White House budget plan would slash science

    Huge cuts could be in store for federal science spending if President Donald Trump’s vision for fiscal year 2018 becomes reality.

    Although details are skimpy, Trump’s $1.15 trillion budget proposal, released March 16, would make national security the top priority. The budget blueprint calls for a $54 billion increase in defense spending for 2018, offset by an equally big reduction in...

    03/16/2017 - 17:52 Science & Society
  • News

    Changing climate could worsen foods’ nutrition

    A dinner plate piled high with food from plants might not deliver the same nutrition toward the end of this century as it does today. Climate change could shrink the mineral and protein content of wheat, rice and other staple crops, mounting evidence suggests.

    Selenium, a trace element essential for human health, already falls short in diets of one in seven people worldwide. Studies link...

    03/13/2017 - 15:07 Climate, Nutrition, Agriculture
  • 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

    See where Clinton and Trump stand on science

    Hillary Clinton’s “I believe in science” declaration aside, science has not played a starring role in the 2016 presidential election. Far from it. For the most part, the candidates’ science policies have trickled out in dribs and drabs, and in varying degrees of detail — talking points on a website here, a passing comment in response to a spur-of-the-moment question there.

    Yet science...

    09/13/2016 - 12:25 Science & Society
  • Feature

    The pressure is on to make metallic hydrogen

    In a few highly specialized laboratories, scientists bombard matter with the world’s most powerful electrical pulses or zap it with sophisticated lasers. Other labs squeeze heavy-duty diamonds together hard enough to crack them.

    All this is in pursuit of a priceless metal. It’s not gold, silver or platinum. The scientists’ quarry is hydrogen in its most elusive of forms.

    Several...

    08/10/2016 - 09:00 Physics, Materials, Condensed Matter
  • 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 spiders and...

    07/24/2016 - 08:00 Animals
  • 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 can breed...

    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 Bloom, a biologist studying how evolution affects...

    06/01/2016 - 07:00 Molecular Evolution