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  • News

    No-pain gene discovered

    Mutations in a previously unscrutinized gene can leave people dangerously indifferent to harm, researchers report May 25 in Nature Genetics.

    Certain changes to this gene, PRDM12, rob people of the ability to feel pain, leading to unintentional injuries such as scarred tongues, scratched corneas and missing digits. A deeper...

    05/25/2015 - 11:00 Neuroscience, Health
  • Context

    Nash’s mind left a beautiful legacy

    His mind was beautiful, but troubled. His math was just beautiful.

    John Forbes Nash Jr., who died in a traffic accident on May 23, gained more fame than most mathematicians, though not only on account of his math. His battle with schizophrenia, described artfully by...

    05/24/2015 - 15:50 History of Science, Numbers
  • For Daily Use

    Here’s what game theory says about how to win in semifinals

    When it comes to tournament-style competitions, people tend to focus on the championship round: the Super Bowl, the general election, the final interviews for a job opening. But consider the importance of the semifinal. A loss guarantees a finish of no better than third place, but the all-out effort needed for winning can bring a high cost: Competitors may be too drained in the championship....

    05/22/2015 - 16:41 Science & Society, Numbers
  • Science Stats

    A billion years of evolution doesn’t change some genes

    Humans and baker’s yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, last shared an ancestor 1 billion years ago. Despite the evolutionary gulf, human genes can substitute for nearly half — 47 percent — of the genes essential for yeast survival, researchers report in the May 22 Science.

    Aashiq Kachroo and colleagues at...

    05/22/2015 - 15:58 Genetics, Molecular Evolution
  • Wild Things

    These birds provide their own drum beat

    Listen closely to a Java sparrow sing: Interspersed among the notes will be clicks that the bird makes with its bill. All male birds use the clicking sounds in their songs — and the patterns appear to be passed from father to son, a new study reports.

    Masayo Soma and Chihiro Mori of the Hokkaido University in Japan analyzed recordings of 30 male birds. These were a domesticated version...

    05/22/2015 - 14:43 Animals
  • News

    Rising dolphin deaths linked to Deepwater Horizon spill

    The April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill helped spark a massive, ongoing die-off of dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico, a new study suggests.

    Dead common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) examined in the region had lung lesions and adrenal gland damage, injuries previously linked to oil exposure,...

    05/21/2015 - 18:14 Pollution, Toxicology, Oceans
  • News

    Tranquil ecosystems may explain wild swings in carbon dioxide stashing

    Placid prairies and austere scrublands may be key ecosystems for explaining mysterious year-to-year swings in the amount of carbon dioxide sucked out of the atmosphere.

    The unassuming landscapes are responsible for up to 50 percent of the yearly variation in how much of the greenhouse gas is stashed on land, ...

    05/21/2015 - 15:02 Climate, Ecosystems
  • News

    Mutations that drive cancer lurk in healthy skin

    By late middle age, about a quarter of skin cells carry cancer-driving mutations caused by exposure to sunlight — and it’s perfectly normal.

    Researchers had previously thought that the types of mutations that fuel tumor growth were rare and happened just before a cell becomes cancerous. But a study of the eyelids of four people who don’t have cancer reveals that such mutations “are...

    05/21/2015 - 14:11 Genetics, Cancer
  • Science Ticker

    Once-stable Antarctic glaciers are now melting rapidly

    A once-steadfast group of Antarctic glaciers has nosedived into rapid decline.

    Glaciers along the Southern Antarctic Peninsula remained roughly stable between 2003 and 2009. New satellite observations reveal that the region suddenly destabilized in 2009 and is now shedding around 56 billion metric tons of ice each year, enough water to raise sea levels by roughly 0.16 millimeters.

    ...

    05/21/2015 - 14:00 Climate, Earth
  • News

    Brain implants let paralyzed man move robotic arm

    View the video

    A paralyzed man can now make a robotic arm do some smooth moves. Tiny silicon chips embedded in an action-planning part of his brain let the man control the arm easily and fluidly with his thoughts, scientists report in the May 22 Science.

    “This is groundbreaking...

    05/21/2015 - 14:00 Neuroscience, Robotics, Technology