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  • Science Ticker

    Protein that gets sperm into egg identified

    Exactly what molecule in a mammal's egg cell talks to sperm to let them wriggle inside has been difficult to identify. In 2005, scientists discovered that sperm carry a protein called Izumo1 that gets them to fuse with an egg. Now, research on mice shows that it's the protein folate receptor 4, or Folr4, on the egg that...
    04/17/2014 - 20:00 Cells, Human Development
  • Reviews & Previews

    To do: Exhibits to explore this May in D.C. and New York

    The Future Is Here Festival May 16–18Cosmologist Brian Greene and actor Patrick Stewart are among the headliners at this event, themed “science meets science fiction.”Ronald Reagan Building, Washington, D.C.World Science FestivalMay 28–June 1...
    04/17/2014 - 18:23 Technology, Science & Society, Animals
  • Science Ticker

    Even with rest, brain changes linked to football linger

    The offseason may not allow enough time for football players' brains to heal from hard hits.A new study looked at the brains and head impacts (an average of 431 to 1,850 per player per season) of 10 division III college football players. None of the players were diagnosed with a...
    04/17/2014 - 17:15 Neuroscience, Mental Health
  • Wild Things

    How a chimp goes mattress hunting

    Note: The following scene is fiction (probably). Stay tuned for the real story below.Two chimps, a mother and daughter, are touring a mattress store. They’re looking for beds to sleep in for the night. Actually, they’re looking for materials to make their beds — or nests, as they’re properly called. This is something chimps do every night for their entire lives after they’re weaned. ...
    04/17/2014 - 16:49 Animals
  • Science Ticker

    Early meat-eater may have led to larger plant-eaters

    The newly identified Eocasea martini didn’t inspire the adult beverage that shares its name, but the small barrel-bodied creature may have set the stage for later, much larger animals to become plant-eaters.A roughly 300 million-year-old fossil of E. martini found in Kansas suggests that the early proto-mammal munched on meat. But species similar in body structure that came...
    04/17/2014 - 15:06 Paleontology
  • News

    Gene activity sets humans apart from extinct hominids

    Extinct human cousins may have used some genes differently than modern people do, an analysis of Neandertal and Denisovan DNA reveals.Compared with living people, Neandertals and ancient Siberians known as Denisovans had slightly different patterns of DNA methylation — a chemical modification of DNA that doesn’t change the information in genes but helps control gene activity. Evolutionary...
    04/17/2014 - 14:00 Genetics, Molecular Evolution, Human Evolution
  • News

    Earth-sized planet found in star’s habitable zone

    Earth, meet your distant cousin. The Kepler space telescope has turned up a potentially water-bearing world nearly as small as our planet. The planet is the smallest one found in any star’s habitable zone, a temperate region surrounding a star that is suitable for liquid water.Elisa Quintana, an astronomer at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and colleagues discovered the...
    04/17/2014 - 14:00 Exoplanets, Astronomy
  • News

    Most extreme female penis is found on cave lice

    The most dramatic genital-shape reversal known — females with long, insertable organs and males with corresponding pouches — has turned up in bark lice living in Brazilian caves.A female in each of the four Neotrogla species extends a skinny structure up to 15 percent the length of her body into a genital pocket in the male’s body, reports entomologist Kazunori Yoshizawa of Hokkaido...
    04/17/2014 - 13:17 Animals, Evolution
  • The –est

    Laser kicks molecules into fastest ever spin

    The powerful kick of a laser has spun molecules faster than they’ve ever been spun before: 10 trillion rotations per second, or 600 trillion RPM. A car with tires turning at that spin rate would travel the distance to the nearest star in half an hour. “There’s definitely nothing macroscopic that can spin that fast...
    04/17/2014 - 09:48 Physics
  • Science Ticker

    Down’s syndrome goes beyond chromosome 21

    When humans have a third copy of chromosome 21, they are usually diagnosed with Down’s syndrome. Scientists thought that the additional copy of the chromosome resulted in most of the traits characteristic of the condition. But the DNA of identical twins, one with Down’s and one without, suggests that there are genetic...
    04/16/2014 - 18:20 Genetics, Human Development