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  • News in Brief

    Zika virus ‘spillback’ into primates raises risk of future human outbreaks

    WASHINGTON — Scientists usually worry that animal diseases could spill over into humans. But “spillback” of Zika virus into monkeys in South America could be just as dangerous.

    In areas where Zika infections are prevalent among humans and mosquitoes are abundant, the virus may be transmitted to wild primates, disease ecologist Barbara Han said February 6 at the American Society for...

    02/08/2017 - 14:00 Ecology, Microbiology
  • Feature

    Year in review: Gravitational waves offer new cosmic views

    The secrets gleaned from the universe’s most mysterious giants are incongruously subtle when witnessed at Earth: Detectors budge by a tiny fraction of a proton’s breadth, outputting a feeble, birdlike chirp.

    For centuries, astronomers have peered out into the universe almost exclusively by observing its light. But 2016’s announcement of the first detection of gravitational waves,...

    12/14/2016 - 07:41 Physics, Astronomy
  • 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 outcomes. Will 2016 be the hottest year...

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

    Scientists wrestle with possibility of second Zika-spreading mosquito

    Sure, mosquitoes spread Zika virus. Scientists have already identified the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) as a major spreader in the Americas of Zika and its risk of birth defects and possible paralysis. But Ae. aegypti may not be the only culprit. Recent evidence raises concerns that a relative, the Asian tiger mosquito (Ae. albopictus), might also play a role.

    A Mexican lab, for...

    05/16/2016 - 16:30 Biomedicine, Animals
  • News in Brief

    Mercury’s stunning landscape mapped

    View animation

    Mercury has never looked better. Volcanic plains, craters, mountains and valleys are showcased in the first complete topographic map of the innermost planet, released May 6.

    Stitched together from over 100,000 images taken by NASA’s now-defunct MESSENGER spacecraft, the global catalog of landscapes provide data that researchers can use to better understand the...

    05/10/2016 - 05:30 Planetary Science
  • News

    Evidence conflicts on iron’s role in Parkinson’s disease

    Iron, says aging expert Naftali Raz, is like the Force. It can be good or bad, depending on the context. When that context is the human brain, though, scientists wrangle over whether iron is a dark force for evil or a bright source of support.

    Some iron is absolutely essential for the brain. On that, scientists agree. But recent studies suggest to some researchers that too much iron, and...

    05/02/2016 - 09:00 Neuroscience, Biomedicine, Health
  • News in Brief

    New sky map charts previously unknown gamma-ray sources

    SALT LAKE CITY — A new map of the sky charts the origins of some of the highest energy photons ever detected. Researchers from the High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Observatory released their first year of observations of gamma rays, ultrahigh-energy light particles blasted in our direction from some of the most extreme environments in the universe.

    The researchers found 40 gamma-ray sources...

    04/19/2016 - 14:31 Cosmology, Physics
  • Scicurious

    A storm of tweets followed Superstorm Sandy’s path

    As Superstorm Sandy threatened the East Coast of the United States in fall of 2012, people stocked up on bread and batteries. They boarded their windows. And they tweeted. During the height of the storm and its impact, between October 26 and November 10, people sent more than 20 million hurricane-related tweets.

    Now, scientists have taken almost 10 million of those tweets and used them...

    03/24/2016 - 15:20 Technology, Networks
  • Introducing

    New chameleon has strange snout, odd distribution

    Males of a newly described chameleon species sport a distinctive double-tipped snout. The raised snout portion (called a rostral appendage) of Kinyongia msuyae splits and sticks out several millimeters at the front in a hint of horns.

    The appendage’s function is unclear, says species codiscoverer Tim Davenport of the Wildlife Conservation Society, but it might have evolved under the...

    03/08/2016 - 16:42 Animals
  • Essay

    The long road to detecting gravity waves

    The January e-mail from Syracuse University physicist Peter Saulson caught me off guard. It probably shouldn’t have, since I had been anticipating the news for 16 years, ever since I wrote Einstein’s Unfinished Symphony. The book chronicled the astrophysical community’s most cutting-edge start-up: gravity wave astronomy.

    Saulson’s message meant that Einstein’s symphony is no longer “...

    02/11/2016 - 10:40 Physics, Astronomy