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  • Reviews & Previews

    The study of human heredity got its start in insane asylums

    Genetics in the MadhouseTheodore M. PorterPrinceton Univ., $35

    England’s King George III descended into mental chaos, or what at the time was called madness, in 1789. Physicians could not say whether he would recover or if a replacement should assume the throne. That political crisis jump-started the study of human heredity.

    Using archival records, science historian Theodore M...

    07/01/2018 - 08:00 Genetics, History of Science, Mental Health, Numbers
  • July 7, 2018

    06/29/2018 - 16:56
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Spying on Whales’ dives into the story of true leviathans

    Spying on WhalesNick PyensonViking, $27

    Just before humans evolved, whales and dolphins were, pound for pound, the brainiest creatures on Earth. Another cetacean superlative: Today’s biggest whales are heftier than the largest dinosaurs that ever lived. The evolutionary trends that produced big, brainy marine animals are just a few of the fascinating tales told in Spying on Whales...

    06/29/2018 - 12:00 Animals, Evolution, Paleontology
  • 50 years ago, a Japanese scientist dreamed up a rocket-propelled train

    Next in speedy trains

    Future trains, in [Hisanojo] Ozawa’s opinion, will all be powered by rockets and run over rollers instead of rails…. His next model will be equipped with three rocket engines and will aim for a speed of 1,180 kilometers an hour, or 0.996 Mach. — Science News, July 6, 1968.

    Update

    A rocket-boosted model train from Ozawa, who designed aircraft for the...

    06/28/2018 - 07:00 Technology, Physics
  • News

    A brain chemical tied to narcolepsy may play a role in opioid addiction

    Using opioids gives some brain cells a call to action.

    Opioid addicts’ brains, examined after death, contain about 50 percent more nerve cells that release a molecule called hypocretin, compared with people who didn’t use the drugs, a new study finds. Giving the opiate morphine to mice also induced similar changes in their brains. But the increase didn’t come from new nerve cells, or...

    06/27/2018 - 14:00 Neuroscience, Health
  • News

    Mars got its crust quickly

    Mars was a fully formed planet — crust and all — within just 20 million years of the solar system’s birth. That rapid formation means the Red Planet probably got a 100-million-year jump on Earth in terms of habitability, new research suggests.

    Geochemical analyses of crystals of the mineral zircon extracted from Martian meteorites reveal that Mars had formed its earliest crust by 4.547...

    06/27/2018 - 13:00 Planetary Science, Earth
  • Feature

    How to make CAR-T cell therapies for cancer safer and more effective

    This wasn’t 15-year-old Connor McMahon’s first time in the hospital. But the 107° fever he’d been running for three days had his dad frightened. The teen was hallucinating, talking gibberish and spouting curses.

    “I thought he was going to die,” says Connor’s father, Don McMahon, who stayed close as his son received and recovered from an experimental treatment for leukemia. “It was really...

    06/27/2018 - 09:00 Cancer, Health, Clinical Trials
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers ponder geothermal power and more

    What lies beneath

    Liquid pumped into the ground to generate geothermal power may have triggered a large earthquake that shook part of South Korea last November, Carolyn Gramling reported in “Pumping water underground for power may have triggered South Korean quake” (SN: 5/26/18, p. 8).

    Reader Elizabeth McDowell asked if there may be a link between geothermal power generation at a...

    06/27/2018 - 07:15 Genetics, Earth, Animals
  • Editor's Note

    Medical breakthroughs come with a human cost

    Medical innovations can be risky, as this issue’s cover story on new CAR-T cell therapies for cancer reveals. The treatments, which tailor a patient’s own immune system cells to attack cancer, can be astonishingly successful. But CAR-T therapy can also be an untamed beast, unleashing a ferocious immune response that indiscriminately attacks the body. The challenge scientists face now...
    06/27/2018 - 07:00 Health, Cancer, History of Science
  • News

    Poliovirus treatment helped patients with deadly brain tumors live longer

    Few treatment options are available to people facing a second battle with a particularly fatal type of brain tumor called glioblastoma. But dosing the tumor with a genetically modified poliovirus — one that doesn’t cause the eponymous, devastating disease — may give these patients more time, a small clinical study suggests.

    Of 61 people with recurring glioblastoma who were treated with...

    06/26/2018 - 17:50 Cancer, Clinical Trials