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  • News

    E. coli evade detection by going dormant

    Researchers think they now know why a particularly virulent form of E. coli that swept through northern Germany last May was so hard to trace: The germs responsible eluded detection by going into a self-induced deep sleep.

    Two new studies show that when stressed, E. coli can turn off most signs of life. That’s a problem for food-safety officials because their germ-screening...

    12/06/2011 - 11:04 Nutrition, Earth & Environment
  • Feature

    Big Fishing Yields Small Fish

    Sharks, billfish, cod, tuna and other fish-eating fish — the sea’s equivalents to lions on the Serengeti — dominated the marine world as recently as four decades ago. They culled sick, lame and old animals and kept populations of marine herbivores in check, preventing marine analogs of antelopes from overgrazing their environment.

    But the reign of large predators now...

    03/25/2011 - 11:51
  • Math Trek

    Winning the World Series with math

    To run the bases faster, baseball players just need a bit of mathematics, according to research by an undergraduate math major and his professors. Their calculations show that the optimal path around the bases is one that perhaps no major-league ball player has ever run: It swings out a full 18.5 feet from the baseline.

    The precise path the researchers calculated probably won’t...

    10/22/2010 - 15:10
  • News

    Mice robbed of darkness fatten up

    When it comes to weight management, the timing of dining is pivotal, a new study indicates. At least in rodents, food proved especially fattening when consumed at the wrong time of day.

    As nocturnal animals, mice normally play and forage at night, often in complete darkness. With even dim chronic illumination of their nighttime environment, however, the animals’ hormonal dinner bells...

    10/11/2010 - 15:02 Nutrition, Earth & Environment, Body & Brain
  • Math Trek

    Spoil-Proofing Elections

    When Ralph Nader recently announced he was entering the 2008 presidential race, many Democrats groaned. It was his fault, they say, that George Bush defeated Al Gore in 2000. But Nader retorted that the Democratic Party has only itself to blame for the loss in 2000.

    Mathematicians offer a different perspective. The problem, they say, doesn't lie with Nader or with the Democrats. It lies...

    03/12/2008 - 22:28 Numbers
  • Feature

    Nurturing Our Microbes

    Each of us is a metropolis. Bustling about in everyone's body are tens of trillions of microbes. Some are descended from starter populations provided by mom during birth. Additional bacteria, yeasts, and other life forms hitchhike in with foods. By age 3, everyone's gut hosts a fairly stable, yet diverse, ecosystem.

    Most of the tiny stowaways hide out in the...

    02/26/2008 - 12:45 Biomedicine
  • Math Trek

    Checking It Twice

    Counting is hard. Neither people nor machines seem to be able to do it reliably. And that's a nightmare for election officials who need an accurate ballot count to decide elections.

    Eighteen states require officials to double-check the machine counts by hand for a portion of the ballots. But election officials have had little guidance on what to do with the recount results. If the...

    01/17/2008 - 17:24 Numbers
  • Food for Thought

    It's Spud Time

    As 2007 winds down, thoughts naturally turn towards what might lie ahead. Meals rich in high-carb tubers, perhaps? That's what the United Nations would like everyone to contemplate throughout 2008, which it is designating the International Year of the Potato.

    Farmers now harvest more than 300 million tons of potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) worldwide. That makes it the fourth biggest food...

    12/18/2007 - 18:43 Nutrition
  • Feature

    Lettuce Liability

    Little more than a year ago, supermarkets from coast to coast stripped fresh spinach from produce aisles as a food-poisoning outbreak swept the nation. From mid-August through September 2006, virulent bacterial infections sickened at least 204 spinach consumers. Five died and 30 others suffered acute kidney failure.

    Among more than 3,500 genetically unique...

    12/03/2007 - 19:41 Agriculture
  • News

    Tadpole Slayer: Mystery epidemic imperils frogs

    From Alaska to Florida, a novel and yet-unnamed protozoan is knocking off tadpoles. Species vulnerable to "the beast" belong to the genus Rana, which includes leopard frogs, green frogs, and bullfrogs, says ecologist John C. Maerz.

    His team at the University of Georgia in Athens stumbled across mass die-offs of southern leopard frog tadpoles in nearby ponds last year. Dissection...

    11/19/2007 - 10:53