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  • News

    Prion protein is not all bad

    A molecular Dr. Jekyll finally has a day job—as an electrical lineman. A new study suggests that the normal form of prion protein helps maintain the insulation that speeds electrical signals along nerve fibers.

    In its twisted Mr. Hyde form, the prion protein causes fatal brain-wasting diseases, such as mad cow disease in cattle and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in people (SN: 8/16/08, p.20...

    07/01/2011 - 15:48 Genes & Cells, Body & Brain
  • Deleted Scenes

    Other shoe drops on arsenic-eating bugs

    It took no time in December for critics to cast doubt on the remarkable claim that a bacterium force-fed with arsenic incorporated some of the poison into its cells and even its DNA. As soon as the Science paper by Felisa Wolfe-Simon and colleagues was published, critics took to the airwaves and the blogosphere; there was even coverage of the coverage.

    The debate over whether an...

    05/27/2011 - 15:20
  • Feature

    Dawn of the Dinosaurs

    Any 10-year-old knows how the dinosaurs met their end: A huge meteorite slammed into Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula 65 million years ago, blasting the planet beyond anything imagined by Bruce Willis in Armageddon.

    But neither kids nor Hollywood have spent much time thinking about how dinosaurs appeared in the first place. “We know a heck of a lot more about the...

    05/06/2011 - 14:32
  • News

    Seismologists rumble over quake clusters

    Japan’s catastrophic March 11 earthquake was the biggest ever recorded in Japan and the costliest natural disaster in history, but in a way it was nothing new. Three other quakes of magnitude 8.6 or greater have struck worldwide in the past seven years — after a gap of four decades.

    Two U.S. Geological Survey scientists contend that the Japan quake bolsters their idea...

    04/15/2011 - 16:11 Earth, Earth & Environment
  • News

    Who felt it not, smelt it not

    People who feel no pain due to a particular rare genetic defect also can’t smell anything, a new study finds. The unexpected discovery shows that nerves that detect pain and odors rely on the same protein to transmit information to the brain.

    Researchers examined three people who have mutations in the SCN9A gene and can’t feel pain. All of the people had broken multiple bones without...

    03/23/2011 - 15:49 Genes & Cells, Body & Brain
  • Feature

    2010 Science News of the Year: Nutrition

    Credit: Krasowit/Shutterstock

    Fish oil packs a punch Omega-3 fatty acids are turning up in plenty of promising reports, but some tests fail to show a benefit. Reported anti-inflammatory effects of the compound may help to shake out just how these nutrients boost health. High levels of omega-3s are found in fish oil from cold-water species and in walnut and flaxseed oils.

    ...

    12/17/2010 - 14:02
  • Feature

    2010 Science News of the Year: Molecules

    Credit: Happy Little Nomad/Wikimedia Commons

    Gimme an F Chlorophyll, the pigment that makes the world go ’round, has come in four known flavors for more than 60 years: chlorophylls a, b, c and d. Now scientists have discovered another version of the pigment that allows plants and other photosynthesizing organisms to harness sunlight for making food and oxygen. Dubbed chlorophyll f,...

    12/17/2010 - 14:01
  • Feature

    2010 Science News of the Year: Body & Brain

    Credit: © Bettmann/Corbis

    Gene therapy moves forward Despite their promise, technologies to correct defective genes have been plagued by safety problems leading to unintended — and sometimes fatal — outcomes. But scientists are inching toward safer, more effective gene therapies that may one day treat a range of diseases, from psychiatric disorders to autoimmune diseases to cancers...

    12/17/2010 - 13:56
  • Feature

    The final climate frontiers

    Modern explorers have pushed into nearly every nook and cranny of the globe, from polar Antarctica to the depths of the Amazonian jungle. Yet there’s land still to explore, and regularly comes news of unexpected and wondrous findings — a mongooselike carnivore spotted in Madagascar, a massive waterfall discovered in Peru.

    Such is the state of climate...

    11/19/2010 - 12:00
  • News

    Immune gene variants help stop HIV

    Variations in an immune-system gene account for at least part of the uncanny ability of some people to withstand an HIV infection without developing AIDS, researchers report online November 4 in Science. The study confirms past data linking the gene, called HLA-B, to HIV defense and narrows researchers’ focus to molecular changes brought on by particular variations in the gene.

    ...

    11/04/2010 - 14:28 Body & Brain