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  • News

    Speeding up evolution to create useful proteins wins the chemistry Nobel

    Techniques that put natural evolution on fast-forward to build new proteins in the lab have earned three scientists this year’s Nobel Prize in chemistry.

    Frances Arnold of Caltech won for her method of creating customized enzymes for biofuels, environmentally friendly detergents and other products. She becomes the fifth woman to win the Nobel Prize in chemistry since it was first awarded...

    10/03/2018 - 18:46 Chemistry, Microbiology
  • News

    Hubble may have spotted the first known exomoon

    The first suspected exomoon is coming into focus. Observations with the Hubble Space Telescope bolster the case for a Neptune-sized moon orbiting a gas exoplanet 8,000 light-years away, astronomers report October 3 in Science Advances. The moon’s existence, if confirmed, would challenge theories of how satellites are born.

    Astronomers David Kipping and Alex Teachey of Columbia University...

    10/03/2018 - 14:00 Astronomy, Exoplanets
  • News

    Giraffes inherit their spots from their mothers

    The mottled patterns that adorn Africa’s tallest creatures are passed down from their mothers, a new study suggests.

    A giraffe calf inherits spots that are similar to those of its mother in terms of roundness and the smoothness of the spots’ borders, researchers report October 2 in PeerJ. The size and shape of those splotches can also affect a giraffe’s chances of surviving in the wild,...

    10/02/2018 - 18:14 Animals
  • News

    Dazzling laser feats earn these physicists a Nobel

    Fantastic feats performed with lasers have earned three scientists the 2018 Nobel Prize in physics.

    Half of the award, which totals 9 million Swedish kronor (about $1 million), went to physicist Arthur Ashkin for his development of optical tweezers. The technique uses laser light to manipulate tiny particles such as viruses and bacteria.

    The other half of the prize went to two...

    10/02/2018 - 16:30 Physics
  • News

    Discovery of how to prod a patient’s immune system to fight cancer wins a Nobel

    Stopping cancer by removing brakes on the immune system has earned James P. Allison of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and Tasuku Honjo of Kyoto University in Japan the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine.

    “Allison’s and Honjo’s discoveries have added a new pillar in cancer therapy,” Nobel committee member Klas Kärre said in an Oct. 1 news conference...

    10/01/2018 - 14:30 Cancer, Physiology
  • News

    Gene editing can speed up plant domestication

    Gene editing can speed up plant domestication, taming wild vines, bushes and grasses and turning them into new crops.

    Editing just two genes in ground cherries (Physalis pruinosa) produced plants that yielded more and bigger fruit, researchers report October 1 in Nature Plants. Those edits mimic changes that occurred in tomato plants during domestication, bringing the sweet tomato...

    10/01/2018 - 11:00 Plants, Genetics, Molecular Evolution
  • Rethink

    We may not have found aliens yet because we’ve barely begun looking

    With no luck so far in a six-decade search for signals from aliens, you’d be forgiven for thinking, “Where is everyone?”

    A new calculation shows that if space is an ocean, we’ve barely dipped in a toe. The volume of observable space combed so far for E.T. is comparable to searching the volume of a large hot tub for evidence of fish in Earth’s oceans, astronomer Jason Wright at Penn State...

    09/30/2018 - 08:00 Astronomy, Astrobiology
  • News

    Hints of weird particles from space may defy physicists’ standard model

    Dangling from a balloon high above Antarctica, a particle detector has spotted something that standard physics is at a loss to explain.

    Two unusual signals seen by the detector, known as the Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna, or ANITA, can’t be attributed to any known particles, a team of physicists at Penn State reports online September 25 at arXiv.org. The result hints at the...

    09/28/2018 - 13:49 Particle Physics
  • News

    Laser mapping shows the surprising complexity of the Maya civilization

    A laser-shooting eye in the sky has revealed the previously unappreciated size and complexity of ancient Maya civilization, both before and during its presumed heyday, scientists say.

    Maya people in what’s now northern Guatemala built surprisingly extensive defensive structures and roads as part of political systems featuring interconnected cities, starting at least several hundred years...

    09/27/2018 - 14:22 Archaeology, Technology
  • News

    Survey raises worries about how screen time affects kids’ brains

    Nearly two out of three U.S. kids spend more than two hours a day looking at screens, a new analysis of activity levels finds. And those children perform worse on memory, language and thinking tests than kids who spend less time in front of a device, the study of over 4,500 8- to 11-year-olds shows.

    The finding, published online September 26 in Lancet Child & Adolescent Health,...

    09/26/2018 - 18:40 Neuroscience