The Science Life
Craft brewers are going wild. Some of the trendiest beers on the market are intentionally brewed with yeast scavenged from nature, rather than the carefully cultivated ale or lager yeast used in most commercial beers.
Matthew Bochman is in on the action. By day, he’s a biochemist at Indiana University Bloomington who studies how cells keep their DNA intact. On the side, he can be found...
To the residents of Donora, Pa., a mill town in a crook of the Monongahela River, the daily haze from nearby zinc and steel plants was the price of keeping their families fed. But on October 27, 1948, the city awoke to an unusually sooty sky, even for Donora. The next day, the high school quarterbacks couldn’t see their teammates well enough to complete a single pass.
The town was...
When it comes to some oddball fish, looks can be deceiving.
Polypterus, today found only in Africa, and its close kin have generally been considered some of the most primitive ray-finned fishes alive, thanks in part to skeletal features that resemble those on some ancient fish. Now a new analysis of fish fossils of an early polypterid relative called Fukangichthys unearthed in China...
Reviews & Previews
Big ChickenMaryn McKennaNational Geographic, $27
Journalist Maryn McKenna opens Big Chicken by teasing our taste buds with a description of the succulent roasted chickens she bought at an open-air market in Paris. The birds tasted nothing like the bland, uniform chicken offered at U.S. grocery stores. This meat had an earthy, lush, animal flavor. From this tantalizing oh-so-European...
Finding a great glue is a sticky task — especially if you want it to attach to something as slick as the inside of the human body. Even the strongest human-made adhesives don’t work well on wet surfaces like tissues and organs. For surgeons closing internal incisions, that’s more than an annoyance. The right glue could hold wounds together as effectively as stitches and staples with less...
A series of rapid-fire solar flares is providing the first chance to test a new theory of why the sun releases its biggest outbursts when its activity is ramping down. Migrating bands of magnetism that meet at the sun’s equator may cause the biggest flares, even as the sun is going to sleep.
A single complex sunspot called Active Region 2673 emitted seven bright flares — powerful bursts...
Air pollution is a drag for renewable energy. Dust and other sky-darkening air pollutants slash solar energy production by 17 to 25 percent across parts of India, China and the Arabian Peninsula, a new study estimates. The haze can block sunlight from reaching solar panels. And if the particles land on a panel’s flat surface, they cut down on the area exposed to the sun. Dust can come from...
Immune cells can turn certain invaders on themselves, forcing them to prematurely self-destruct, researchers have discovered.
In mice, when white blood cells in the lungs engulf spores of a common airborne fungus, these immune cells release an enzyme that sends the fungal cells into programmed cell death. That prevents the spores from setting up shop in the lungs and sparking a...
The brain chemical missing in Parkinson’s disease may have a hand in its own death. Dopamine, the neurotransmitter that helps keep body movements fluid, can kick off a toxic chain reaction that ultimately kills the nerve cells that make it, a new study suggests.
By studying lab dishes of human nerve cells, or neurons, derived from Parkinson’s patients, researchers found that a harmful...
News in Brief
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Walls can get the best of clumsy TV sitcom characters and bats alike.
New lab tests suggest that smooth, vertical surfaces fool some bats into thinking their flight path is clear, leading to collisions and near misses.
The furry fliers famously use sound to navigate — emitting calls and tracking the echoes to hunt for prey and locate obstacles. But some...