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  • Wild Things

    Don’t let Cecil the lion distract from the big conservation challenges

    Last week, the death of a lion named Cecil dominated the news and social media. Even before then, Cecil had been somewhat famous, for a lion. He resided in a national park, appeared in pictures and was the subject of scientific research. But...

    08/04/2015 - 16:11 Animals
  • News

    Ocean current simulations could narrow Flight 370 search

    A washed-up wing fragment near Madagascar could help narrow the search area for the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 crash site, new ocean current simulations suggest.

    Leads have been few and far between since Flight 370 vanished over the South China Sea in March 2014. On July 29, searchers got a potential break. A roughly 2-meter-long section of a Boeing 777 wing, the same type of aircraft...

    08/04/2015 - 15:50 Oceans, Science & Society
  • News in Brief

    Map of Ceres’ surface shows surprises

    HONOLULU — Clumps of craters on Ceres hint at a surprising past for the dwarf planet. Whether that past involves hidden ice deposits, a devastating whack by another space rock or something else entirely is uncertain.

    “There is clearly something funky going on,” Simone Marchi of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., reported August 3 at a meeting of the...

    08/04/2015 - 15:34 Planetary Science
  • Science Ticker

    How Ethiopian highlanders adapted to breathe thin air

    At high altitudes, the reduced oxygen in the air makes some people develop a condition called hypoxia. But the thousands of people who live 3,500 meters above sea level in the Ethiopian highlands don’t seem to get sick. A key genetic adaptation may have helped them live for millenia at high altitudes, researchers report August 3...

    08/04/2015 - 13:26 Genetics, Physiology, Evolution
  • News

    Dust components may promote obesity

    Dust bunnies that breed under furniture may be bad news for waistlines, a new study suggests. But it’s far too early to add dusting to a weight loss plan, researchers caution.

    Components of indoor dust may signal human fat cells to grow and may alter metabolism, potentially contributing to weight problems, researchers report...

    08/03/2015 - 17:21 Toxicology, Pollution, Health
  • Science Stats

    Iceless Arctic summers now expected by 2050s

    Santa Claus could be treading water sooner than thought. An improved forecast of Arctic sea ice coverage predicts that the region will have its first ice-free summer almost a decade earlier than previously projected.

    Climate scientists fine-tuned simulations of future climate by adding ice‒ocean interactions and measurements that were more detailed than previously used. The tweaks reduce...

    08/03/2015 - 15:07 Climate, Oceans
  • News

    Desert dig uncovers caches of missing CO2

    The wet undersides of deserts may stash as much as a trillion metric tons of climate-altering carbon, more than stored in all land-based plants, new research suggests.

    Human activities such as burning fossil fuels spew carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Scientists, however, can’t account for where as much as 30 percent of this CO2 ends up.

    “We’ve found a carbon sink in...

    08/03/2015 - 06:00 Climate, Earth, Agriculture
  • News

    Ebola vaccine protects people in West Africa

    The first large test of an Ebola vaccine in the field shows strong protection against the lethal virus. With the epidemic in West Africa now in retreat, the shot might hasten disease elimination in Guinea, which still has cases cropping up.

    “This is a huge advance in the Ebola field,” says Thomas Geisbert, an immunologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. “It’s been...

    07/31/2015 - 17:38 Clinical Trials, Biomedicine
  • Wild Things

    How bears engineer Japanese forests

    If you were to look up when walking through a forest in Japan, you might see “Kuma-dana,” or “bear shelves,” high in the trees. These patches of broken branches and dead leaves are created by Japanese black bears when they climb high to find fruit. That’s why climbing a tree...

    07/31/2015 - 13:00 Animals, Ecology
  • Science Ticker

    Kidney transplants may benefit from a slightly chilled donor

    Cooling an organ donor’s body after death might improve kidney function in transplant recipients.

    Scientists compared the function of kidneys from 150 organ donors whose bodies were cooled to between 34˚ and 35˚ Celsius (93.2˚ to 95˚ Fahrenheit), and those from 152 donors whose bodies were kept warm at between 36.5˚ and 37.5˚ C (97.7˚ to 99.5˚ F). Doctors kept the bodies at those...

    07/31/2015 - 11:35 Health