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  • News

    Gene therapy for blindness dims a bit

    Gene therapy for a rare form of inherited blindness improves sight temporarily but can’t yet save vision cells from dying.

    Light-gathering rod and cone cells continued to die in the retinas of three people despite gene therapy to correct Leber congenital amaurosis, researchers report online May 3 in the New England Journal of...

    05/03/2015 - 17:15 Genetics, Biomedicine
  • Reviews & Previews

    Research can't be right with 'Statistics Done Wrong'

    05/03/2015 - 16:00 Numbers
  • Film

    ‘Ex Machina’ explores humanity as much as AI

    The Turing test features prominently in Alex Garland’s new film Ex Machina, but this is no meditation on computer science. It’s not even, ultimately, about artificial intelligence. The movie instead explores humans: the Frankenstein-like hubris involved in creating artificial beings; the power relationships between employee and boss, parent...

    05/02/2015 - 10:00 Robotics, Technology, Science & Society
  • News

    Zipping to Mars could badly zap brain nerve cells

    Like cannonballs slamming into stained glass, high-energy particles can shatter the delicate tendrils that connect nerve cells, a study on mice finds. This neural destruction left mice with memory and learning problems, a finding that has implications for intrepid space explorers.

    The result is “worrisome, very worrisome,” says neuroscientist M. Kerry O’Banion of the University of...

    05/01/2015 - 14:00 Neuroscience, Particle Physics
  • News

    Tiny particles propel themselves upstream

    View the video

    Human-made microbeads don’t always go with the flow.

    Under certain conditions, the artificial particles can align themselves with a fluid’s flow and then swim upstream, researchers report May 1 in Science Advances. These particles represent a small step toward making more...

    05/01/2015 - 14:00 Physics, Condensed Matter
  • It's Alive

    How slow plants make ridiculous seeds

    The secret behind the world’s largest seed and its sexually extravagant plant is good gutters.

    A prodigy among those seeds can weigh as much as 18 kilograms, about the weight of a 4-year-old boy. Yet the plant that outdoes the rest of the botanical world in the heft of its seed manages with below-poverty nutrition. Coco-de-mer palms (Lodoicea maldivica) are native to two islands...

    05/01/2015 - 13:10 Plants, Evolution, Conservation
  • Wild Things

    Lazy sunfish are actually active predators

    If you spot an ocean sunfish (Mola mola) near the surface of the water, you might be amazed by its size. These are, after all, the biggest of all the teleost fish (the group of ray-finned fishes that includes many of the species we like to eat), and...

    05/01/2015 - 07:00 Animals, Oceans
  • Science Ticker

    Beetle’s toxic, explosive vapor explained

    With a hot, mighty blast from the rear, bombardier beetles ward off predators with a harmful spray. And now scientists understand how the insects fire off the harmful fog.

    Using X-ray imaging, scientists monitored a two-chambered gland in the beetle’s rump. There, a chemical cocktail trickles from a reservoir chamber into a reaction chamber through a valve. In the reaction chamber, the...

    04/30/2015 - 18:10 Animals
  • News

    Explanation for G’s imprecision stumbles

    Tiny changes in Earth’s rotation rate could explain physicists’ inability to precisely measure a key fundamental constant of nature, a study in the April EPL proposes. Physicists say the idea would be extremely compelling — if not for some confusion with dates that probably derails the findings.

    A graph in the paper shows that the measured values of Newton’s gravitational...

    04/30/2015 - 16:23 Physics, Earth
  • Science Ticker

    MESSENGER mission ends with crash landing on Mercury

    The MESSENGER spacecraft crashed into the surface of Mercury on April 30, bringing its four-year exploration of the innermost planet to a meteoric finale. The planned rendezvous with the surface of the sun-scorched world came after the probe exhausted the last of its fuel and succumbed to gravity’s pull.

    Launched in 2004, MESSENGER is...

    04/30/2015 - 15:44 Planetary Science