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  • News

    Vanadium dioxide’s weird phase transition just got weirder

    For the first time, researchers have gotten a detailed view of how atoms in a compound called vanadium dioxide move when an ultrafast laser pulse transforms the material from an electrical insulator to a conductor — and it’s nothing like scientists expected.

    Rather than switching from one crystal formation to another in a direct, synchronized manner, like choreographed ballerinas, the...

    11/01/2018 - 14:00 Physics, Materials, Technology
  • News

    The Milky Way feasted on a smaller galaxy 10 billion years ago

    In its younger days, the Milky Way devoured a smaller galaxy, and stars from the hapless victim still roam the skies today to tell the tale, a new study finds.

    “This is a major event in the history of the galaxy,” says astronomer Amina Helmi of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. “We’re really starting to probe the ancestors of the Milky Way.”

    Helmi and her colleagues...

    11/01/2018 - 13:54 Astronomy
  • News in Brief

    Fossils hint hominids migrated through a ‘green’ Arabia 300,000 years ago

    Although now characterized by inhospitable deserts, the Arabian Peninsula was a green hot spot for migrating members of the human genus, Homo, at least 300,000 years ago, scientists say.

    Stone tools found among fossils of antelopes, elephants and other animals at Saudi Arabia’s Ti’s al Ghadah site date to between 300,000 and 500,000 years ago, archaeologist Patrick Roberts and his...

    11/01/2018 - 11:13 Archaeology, Human Evolution
  • Feature

    Virtual reality therapy has real-life benefits for some mental disorders

    Edwin adjusted his headset and gripped the game controller in both hands. He swallowed hard. The man had good reason to be nervous. He was about to enter a virtual environment tailor-made to get his heart pumping way more than any action-packed video game: a coffee shop full of people.

    Determined to overcome his persistent fear that other people want to hurt him, Edwin had enrolled in a...

    11/01/2018 - 08:24 Technology, Mental Health
  • News

    Stimulating the spinal cord helps 3 more paralyzed people walk

    Paralysis is becoming less permanent — at least for some.

    There’s now more evidence that stimulating the spinal cord can restore voluntary movement in paralyzed patients who haven’t recovered after other treatments. After five months of training coupled with targeted stimulation of nerve cells in the spinal cord, three people who had a severe spinal cord injury regained the ability to...

    10/31/2018 - 14:48 Neuroscience
  • News in Brief

    Three gas clouds nearly grazed the edge of the Milky Way’s black hole

    As far as close shaves with a black hole go, it doesn’t get much closer than this.

    Scientists have spotted clouds of gas hurtling around the monster black hole at the center of the Milky Way, not far from the behemoth’s edge. Observed on three separate occasions, the gas clouds careened along at unimaginably fast speeds — 30 percent of the speed of light, researchers report October 31 in...

    10/31/2018 - 14:18 Astronomy, Physics
  • News

    The appendix is implicated in Parkinson’s disease

    The appendix, a once-dismissed organ now known to play a role in the immune system, may contribute to a person’s chances of developing Parkinson’s disease.           

    An analysis of data from nearly 1.7 million Swedes found that those who’d had their appendix removed had a lower overall risk of Parkinson’s disease. Also, samples of appendix tissue from healthy individuals revealed...

    10/31/2018 - 14:00 Health
  • News

    How roaches fight off wasps that turn their victims into zombies

    Real-life fights against zombie-makers offer plenty of tips for avoiding undeath. Just ask cockroaches, targets of the emerald jewel wasp.

    The female wasps (Ampulex compressa) specialize in attacking the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana). If a wasp succeeds, she leads away an unprotesting roach like a dog on a leash just by tugging at a roach antenna. Then she lays an egg on the...

    10/31/2018 - 03:00 Animals, Evolution
  • The Science Life

    How researchers flinging salmon inadvertently spurred tree growth

    How much salmon would scientists sling if scientists could sling salmon? For one research team, the question isn’t hypothetical, and the answer is … tons.

    During 20 years of monitoring salmon populations in one southwest Alaskan stream, ecologists have found and flung a total 267,620 kilograms of dead fish into the forest. Those rotting carcasses leached enough nutrients to speed up tree...

    10/30/2018 - 13:54 Ecology, Animals, Plants
  • News

    Young people’s memories improved when they stopped using marijuana

    Taking a monthlong break from pot helps clear away young people’s memory fog, a small study suggests. The results show that not only does marijuana impair teenagers’ and young adults’ abilities to take in information, but that this memory muddling may be reversible.

    Scientists have struggled to find clear answers about how marijuana affects the developing brain, in part because it’s...

    10/30/2018 - 13:00 Neuroscience