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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

    Laser proposed to deflect space junk

    It won’t prevent Armageddon, but a simple ground-based laser system could nudge small pieces of space junk away from satellites to prevent collisions, a new study suggests.

    The proposed system uses photons generated by a medium-power laser and aimed into space through a 1.5-meter telescope. The photons exert pressure on space debris in low-Earth orbit, gently pushing the objects...

    03/22/2011 - 17:19 Atom & Cosmos
  • Science & the Public

    Coffee perks up memory and balance in geriatric animals

    CHICAGO Millions of Americans start their day with a cup of coffee and then reach for refills when their energy or attention flags. But new research in rats suggests that for the aging brain, coffee may serve as more than a mere stimulant. It can boost memory and the signaling essential to motor coordination.

    But here's the rub: If the same effects hold for humans, downing a morning...

    07/22/2010 - 16:11 Body & Brain, Chemistry, Nutrition, Humans & Society
  • Science & the Public

    BPA and babies: Feds acknowledge concerns

    Federal health and research officials outlined new guidance today for parents on the use of hard, clear plastics made from bisphenol-A, a hormonelike chemical. Their bottom line: Minimize BPA-based products that could make contact with foods or drinks that infants or toddlers might consume — especially hot foods and drinks.

    But the Food and Drug Administration stopped short of...

    01/15/2010 - 18:37 Body & Brain, Earth & Environment, Humans & Society
  • News

    Climate not really what doomed large North American mammals

    Evidently, my dear Watson, the climate didn’t do it. Scientists weighing in on a cold case open since the end of the most recent ice age — the massive die-offs of North America’s largest mammals — arrived at that conclusion courtesy of some very tiny clues. The spores of a fungus that thrived in and on those creatures’ dung suggest changes in habitat didn’t cause the extinctions. As a result...

    11/19/2009 - 14:24 Life & Evolution
  • Science & the Public

    BPA: On the way out? Sort of

    I ran across a Chicago Trib story noting that the city council voted yesterday to make the Windy City America’s first community to ban sales of polycarbonate-plastic baby bottles and “sippy” cups. A lofty claim, but every town and hamlet in Minnesota is actually slated to beat Chicago by 30 days.

    Indeed, five days before Chicago did, Minnesota declared it was outlawing baby beverage-...

    05/14/2009 - 18:31 Other, Body & Brain, Chemistry, Earth & Environment, Nutrition, Humans & Society, Technology
  • News

    Networks reveal concentrated ownership of corporations

    Researchers have made the first maps of corporate stock ownership for the stock markets of a large number of countries, 48 in all. The new network analysis technique reveals “backbones” in these ownership networks: big players that together own a controlling stake in more than 80 percent of the companies in the markets.

    In these network diagrams, nodes represent either a company with...

    02/13/2009 - 18:37 Numbers
  • 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