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  • Reviews & Previews

    Strange brains offer a glimpse into the mind

    To understand the human brain, take note of the rare, the strange and the downright spooky. That’s the premise of two new books, Unthinkable by science writer Helen Thomson and The Disordered Mind by neuroscientist Eric R. Kandel.

    Both books describe people with minds that don’t work the same way as everyone else’s. These are people who are convinced that they are dead, for instance;...

    08/13/2018 - 09:00 Neuroscience, Mental Health
  • News in Brief

    Global dimming may mitigate warming, but could hurt crop yields

    Shading Earth by adding a veil of particles to the upper atmosphere may help to offset global warming — but at a cost.

    Crop yields could decline, as they did following two colossal volcanic eruptions that shot sunlight-blocking sulfur particles high above the cloud layer and into the planet’s stratosphere, researchers report online August 8 in Nature. The study is the first to use real-...

    08/08/2018 - 13:32 Earth, Climate
  • News

    The first detailed map of red foxes’ DNA may reveal domestication secrets

    For nearly 60 years, scientists in Siberia have bred silver foxes in an attempt to replay how domestication occurred thousands of years ago. Now, in a first, researchers have compiled the genetic instruction book, or genome, of Vulpes vulpes, the red fox species that includes the silver-coated variant. This long-awaited study of the foxes’ DNA may reveal genetic changes that drove...

    08/06/2018 - 11:00 Genetics, Animals
  • Feature

    Conflict reigns over the history and origins of money

    Wherever you go, money talks. And it has for a long time.

    Sadly, though, money has been mum about its origins. For such a central element of our lives, money’s ancient roots and the reasons for its invention are unclear.

    As cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin multiply into a flock of digital apparitions, researchers are still battling over how and where money came to be. And some draw...

    07/29/2018 - 08:00 Anthropology, Archaeology
  • Reviews & Previews

    Got an environmental problem? Beavers could be the solution

    EagerBen GoldfarbChelsea Green Publishing, $24.95

    Most people probably don’t think of beavers until one has chewed through the trunk of a favorite tree or dammed up a nearby creek and flooded a yard or nearby road. Beavers are pests, in this view, on par with other members of the order Rodentia. But a growing number of scientists and citizens are recognizing the merits of these...

    07/27/2018 - 10:49 Animals, Ecology, Conservation
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘The Poisoned City’ chronicles Flint’s water crisis

    The Poisoned CityAnna ClarkMetropolitan Books, $30

    America is built on lead. Networks of aging pipes made from the bluish-gray metal bring water into millions of U.S. homes. But when lead, a poison to the nervous system, gets into drinking water — as happened in Flint, Mich. — the heavy metal can cause irreparable harm (SN: 3/19/16, p. 8). In The Poisoned City, journalist Anna Clark...

    07/17/2018 - 07:00 Health, Toxicology, Science & Society
  • News

    Ötzi loaded up on fatty food before he died

    Ötzi didn’t die hungry.

    Around 5,300 years ago, the Iceman dined on wild meat and grains before meeting his end in the Italian Alps. His last meal was high in fat and optimal for a high-altitude trek, researchers report July 12 in Current Biology.

    Since his mummified remains were discovered in 1991, Ötzi’s life has undergone more scrutiny than many reality TV stars. His cause of...

    07/12/2018 - 12:02 Archaeology, Genetics
  • Reviews & Previews

    Why humans, and Big Macs, depend on bees

    Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of BeesThor HansonBasic Books, $27

    When you hear the word bee, the image that pops to mind is probably a honeybee. Maybe a bumblebee. But for conservation biologist Thor Hanson, author of the new book Buzz, the world is abuzz with thousands of kinds of bees, each as beautiful and intriguing as the flowers on which they land.

    Speaking from his “...

    07/08/2018 - 08:00 Animals, Agriculture, Ecology
  • News

    This ‘junk’ gene may be important in embryo development

    A once-maligned genetic parasite may actually be essential for survival.

    Mouse embryos need that genetic freeloader — a type of jumping gene, or transposon, called LINE-1 — to continue developing past the two-cell stage, researchers report in the July 7 Cell.

    Many scientists “charge that these are nasty, selfish genetic elements” that jump around the genome, making mutations and...

    07/03/2018 - 07:00 Development, Cells, Genetics
  • News

    Koala genome may contain clues for helping the species survive

    Koalas have joined the menagerie of creatures with fully deciphered genetic instruction books, or genomes. A large team of researchers published the detailed look at the koala genome online July 2 in Nature Genetics.

    Why do we care? Lots of people love koalas. The iconic animal draws at least $1.1 billion in Australian dollars in tourism every year, according to the New South Wales...

    07/02/2018 - 11:00 Genetics, Animals