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  • Science Ticker

    Surge seen in number of U.S. wildfires

    Guest post by Beth MoleThe number and size of wildfires in the western United States has steadily risen over the last three decades, according to a new report.Between 1984 and 2011, the number of large, uncontrolled burns jumped by seven each year. The area of scorched land also expanded by 355 square...
    04/19/2014 - 18:00 Earth, Ecosystems
  • Letters to the Editor

    Feedback

    Options for treating addictionAddiction is often seen as a chronic disease, but some long-term studies suggest it can be viewed as a temporary coping problem instead. Bruce Bower presented this alternative view in “The addiction paradox” (SN: 3/22/14, p. 16). “A nice job by Bruce Bower, as usual...
    04/19/2014 - 14:00 Climate, Health, Animals
  • Reviews & Previews

    'You Are Here' maps course for directionally challenged

    These days, it can be almost impossible to get lost. The creation of affordable smartphones has put personal homing beacons into over a billion pockets and pocketbooks, enabling even the most directionally challenged to locate the nearest Starbucks or find their way around a traffic accident. Yet the technology that enables easy navigation was centuries — even millennia — in the making. ...
    04/19/2014 - 09:00 Technology
  • Science Ticker

    Insulating sheath on nerve cells isn't an even coat

    A nerve cell's long, slender tentacle isn’t evenly coated with an insulating sheath as scientists had thought.Instead, many nerve cells in the brains of mice have stretches of these tentacles, called axons, that are naked, researchers report April 18 in Science. The unsheathed feeler can be as long as 80 micrometers....
    04/18/2014 - 18:42 Cells, Neuroscience
  • Context

    Shor’s code-breaking algorithm inspired reflections on quantum information

    Second of two parts (read part 1)When the Robert Redford film Sneakers hit theaters in 1992, most moviegoers had never heard of the Internet. They’d have guessed “World Wide Web...
    04/18/2014 - 18:13 Quantum Physics, History of Science
  • News in Brief

    Cloning produces stem cells from adult skin

    Human cloning to produce stem cells works even with cells from middle-aged or elderly people, scientists report in the June 5 Cell Stem Cell, which appeared online April 17.Last year, scientists described a cloning technique for reprogramming human cells to make stem cells. That technique, known as somatic cell nuclear transfer,...
    04/18/2014 - 15:32 Genetics, Cells
  • Editor's Note

    New tools reveal new truths about fungi, flies, antibiotics

    In the newsroom, any story about a new scientific method faces an uphill battle. Editors are likely to reject such a story; writers themselves often downplay these stories because they’ve learned that the answer is usually “no.” To those of us who follow science, how scientists do what they do becomes important, and thus worth writing about, only once a new method reveals a novel truth about...
    04/18/2014 - 15:30 Genetics
  • 50 Years Ago

    Animated movies made by computer

    A 17-minute animated movie has been produced, using a cathode ray tube and a movie camera, both controlled automatically by an electronic computer…. The film took two months of research and programming, four hours of computer time, and 2,000 hours of film processing, [at] a cost of about $600 per minute…. The picture is formed on a grid … 184 spots long by 252 spots high. Each spot can be any of...
    04/18/2014 - 15:30 Technology
  • Feature

    Unsolved drugs

    Penicillin attacks with a calculated strike, splitting open cell walls. Kanamycin sends a bacterium’s protein assembly line into mayhem. Ciprofloxacin dices a microbe’s DNA into a genetic hash. Like trained snipers, each of these common antibiotics seems to dispatch bacteria with a simple tactic: Target a high-profile molecule crucial to survival and, with a single, clean shot, defeat the whole...
    04/18/2014 - 15:00 Biomedicine, Health
  • Science Ticker

    RIP LADEE: 9/6/2013 – 4/18/2014

    Guest post by Christopher CrockettNASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, or LADEE, mission just ended with a literal bang. Having run out of fuel to safely maintain its orbit, LADEE was purposely steered into a slow, steady nosedive toward the...
    04/18/2014 - 14:43 Planetary Science, Astronomy