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  • Feature

    Finding common ground can reduce parents’ hesitation about vaccines

    About six years ago, Emily Adams, a mother of two in Lakewood, Colo., briefly counted herself among the vaccine hesitant. Her family had changed insurance plans, and while her older daughter was up-to-date on shots, her infant son fell behind.

    “We were no longer on schedule, just because of life,” she says. Adams remembers mentioning her son’s situation to a friend, who suggested Adams...

    05/21/2019 - 06:00 Health
  • News

    Bad moods could be contagious among ravens

    Here’s a downer: Pessimism seems contagious among ravens. But positivity? Not so much.

    When ravens saw fellow birds’ responses to a disliked food, but not the food itself, their interest in their own food options waned, researchers report May 20 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study suggests that the birds pick up on and even share negative emotions, the...

    05/20/2019 - 17:37 Animals, Psychology
  • News

    Key parts of a fruit fly’s genetic makeup have finally been decoded

    Some of the most important chapters in fruit flies’ genetic instruction book have finally been decoded.

    For the first time, researchers have deciphered, or sequenced, the genetic makeup of all of a multicellular organism’s centromeres — and discovered stretches of DNA that may be key in divvying up chromosomes. Errors in doing that job can lead to cancer, birth defects or death. The team...

    05/17/2019 - 12:05 Genetics, Cells, Molecular Evolution
  • Feature

    Can Silicon Valley entrepreneurs make crickets the next chicken?

    Trina Chiasson was raised in a log cabin, learned to spin plates in Chicago’s circus arts community, dreamed up a software company and three years later sold it to a bigger company. Her next challenge: building a business, called Ovipost, that brings better technology to cricket farming.

    “I didn’t know any cricket farmers growing up, I know you’ll be shocked to learn,” she says. Yet she’...

    05/02/2019 - 07:00 Agriculture, Animals, Sustainability
  • Transparency Project

    How we reported on the challenges of using ancestry tests to solve crimes

    This is part of the Transparency Project, which explains how we do science journalism. This article refers to a story published in April 2018, “New genetic sleuthing tools helped track down the Golden State Killer suspect.”

    I was in the midst of writing a series on consumer DNA testing when news broke that police had arrested a suspect in the Golden State Killer case. Investigators had...

    04/26/2019 - 12:24 Science & Society
  • Reviews & Previews

    A mathematician traces his journey from poverty to prominence

    The Shape of a LifeShing-Tung Yau and Steve NadisYale Univ., $28

    One of the first remarkable things that mathematician Shing-Tung Yau reveals in his memoir, The Shape of a Life, is that his name was not originally Yau. His family fled China to British-ruled Hong Kong in 1949 when he was an infant, and the name Yau came from a mistranslation on a registration form when he entered...

    04/26/2019 - 09:00 Numbers, Science & Society
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘An Elegant Defense’ explores the immune system’s softer side

    An Elegant DefenseMatt RichtelWilliam Morrow, $28.99

    We like to think of the immune system as our own personal military, ready to attack foreign invaders. Slice your finger, and immune cells rush in to destroy rogue pathogens.

    But it’s misleading to think of the immune system as solely a war machine. It must also keep the peace, assessing each threat and, in many cases,...

    04/23/2019 - 08:00 Immune Science, History of Science
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Invisible Women’ spotlights a gaping and dangerous gender data gap

    Invisible WomenCaroline Criado PerezAbrams Press, $27

    The recent cancellation of the first all-female spacewalk occurred after the publication of Caroline Criado Perez’s Invisible Women. But the news — the lack of enough space suits for the women, suits which weren’t designed for the shape of women’s bodies in the first place — would fit right in to Criado Perez’s scathing takedown...

    04/19/2019 - 10:31 Science & Society, Health
  • News

    Statisticians want to abandon science’s standard measure of ‘significance’

    In science, the success of an experiment is often determined by a measure called “statistical significance.” A result is considered to be “significant” if the difference observed in the experiment between groups (of people, plants, animals and so on) would be very unlikely if no difference actually exists. The common cutoff for “very unlikely” is that you’d see a difference as big or bigger...

    04/17/2019 - 06:00 Science & Society
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Cities’ reveals common ground between ancient and modern urban life

    CitiesMonica L. SmithViking, $30

    Ancient Rome’s Monte Testaccio and modern Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market reveal a lot about the nature of cities. Monte Testaccio is a hill made of broken pottery in the middle of Rome. Around 2,000 years ago, people tossed empty wine and olive oil vessels onto what was then a garbage heap. Tokyo’s vast seafood emporium, also known as Toyosu Market,...

    04/16/2019 - 05:00 Archaeology, Anthropology