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  • Feature

    Life under ice

    Even by Antarctic standards, the Lake Vostok research station is inhospitable. The outpost at the heart of the frozen continent holds the record for the lowest naturally occurring temperature ever observed on Earth. Scientists commonly describe the place as punishing, unforgiving, the most desolate place on the planet.

    That’s nothing. Nearly 4,000 meters below the...

    08/23/2013 - 12:00 Earth
  • Science & the Public

    Growth-promoting antibiotics: On the way out?

    In 1950, Science News ran a story showing for the first time that a potent antibiotic could do more than knock out disease. New animal experiments, we reported, “cast the antibiotic in a spectacular new role” as a livestock growth promoter. Lacing the food of hogs with trace quantities of this drug increased meat yields by up to 50 percent, scientists at Lederle Laboratories had reported at a...

    03/23/2012 - 13:30 Humans & Society, Nutrition, Earth & Environment, Biomedicine, Agriculture
  • News

    Obesity messes with the brain

    Obesity subtly diminishes memory and other features of thinking and reasoning even among seemingly healthy people, an international team of scientists reports. At least some of these impairments appear reversible through weight loss. Researchers also report one likely mechanism for those cognitive deficits: damage to the wiring that links the brain’s information-processing regions.

    A...

    03/25/2011 - 12:00 Nutrition, Body & Brain
  • News

    Salty Old Cellulose: Tiny fibers found in ancient halite deposits

    Researchers have unearthed the planet's oldest-known intact biological macromolecules, microscopic bits of cellulose from 253-million-year-old salt deposits in the southwestern United States.

    The remarkable preservation of the material suggests that under the right conditions, cellulose could last more than 1 billion years. Such a long-lived molecule, a chain of simple sugars,...

    04/02/2008 - 14:40 Paleontology
  • News

    Folding with a little help from friends

    A chaperone protein (bottom, yellow) called SecB guides the folding of another protein (transparent) in this artist's illustration. "Interactions with chaperones are very common for all proteins," says Sander Tans of the FOM Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics in Amsterdam, and they exert a strong influence on protein shape and function.

    But previous studies of the...

    11/28/2007 - 14:27 Earth
  • Food for Thought

    Troubling Meaty 'Estrogen'

    Women take note. Researchers find that a chemical that forms in overcooked meat, especially charred portions, is a potent mimic of estrogen, the primary female sex hormone. That's anything but appetizing, since studies have linked a higher lifetime cumulative exposure to estrogen in women with an elevated risk of breast cancer.

    Indeed, the new finding offers a "biologically...

    10/17/2007 - 01:38 Nutrition
  • Feature

    Mysterious Migrations

    It was the most momentous immigration ever, a population realignment that marked a startling departure for our species, Homo sapiens. After emerging in eastern Africa close to 200,000 years ago, anatomically modern people stayed on one continent for roughly 140,000 years before spreading out in force around the world. Then, from 40,000 to 35,000 years ago, our forerunners advanced into areas...

    03/20/2007 - 13:26 Anthropology
  • Food for Thought

    New Estimates of the Shark-Fin Trade

    Immense numbers of sharks each year are slaughtered for their fins—not meat, just their fins. This harvest helps feed a growing appetite throughout Asia for a popular soup, one with snob appeal comparable to that of caviar. Indeed, a single bowl of shark-fin soup can cost $100 in a high-end Hong Kong restaurant.

    The key ingredient of shark-fin soup is...

    11/01/2006 - 13:22 Earth & Environment
  • Food for Thought

    Sea Turtles—What Not To Eat

    At dozens of beaches around the world, huge female sea turtles come back each year at about the same time. They slowly haul themselves out of the water near the places they themselves hatched, dig shallow holes in the sand, and lay clutches of eggs. The predictability of the turtles' return has made capture of the endangered reptiles and their eggs a reliable bonanza for poachers.

    ...
    09/14/2006 - 12:22 Earth & Environment
  • News

    Plastics agent worsens skin allergies

    Low doses of one of the most commonly used softeners in plastics can aggravate dust-mite allergy, researchers report.

    The plasticizer di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) is ubiquitous in air, water, and most people's bodies. It's in plastics used for toys, food packaging, medical products, and housewares.

    A few earlier studies had correlated allergy severity with exposure to DEHP in...

    09/05/2006 - 01:53 Earth & Environment