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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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

    Seafloor Chemistry: Life's building blocks made inorganically

    Hydrocarbons in the fluids spewing from a set of hydrothermal vents on the seafloor of the central Atlantic were produced by inorganic chemical reactions within the ocean crust, scientists suggest. The finding holds possibly profound implications for the origins of life.

    The Lost City hydrothermal field, which sits on the side of an undersea mountain about 2,500 kilometers...

    01/30/2008 - 12:22 Earth
  • News

    Smells Funny: Fish schools break up over body odor

    Just an hour's swim in water lightly contaminated with a common pollutant can turn fish into rejects with an odor that causes their untainted schoolmates to shun them, researchers say.

    In a lab test, brief exposure to 4-nonylphenol (4-NP), a surfactant used in many soaps, detergents, and other products, disrupted the normal tendency of banded killifish (Fundulus diaphanus) to...

    10/24/2007 - 10:35 Animals
  • 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
  • News

    Drug Overflow: Pharmaceutical factories foul waters in India

    Pharmaceuticals ranging from painkillers to synthetic estrogens can harm aquatic life when they enter waterways through human excreta, hospital and household waste, and agricultural runoff. Now, researchers have shown that there's another way for such drugs to get into the environment: A treatment plant in India that processes wastewater from pharmaceutical manufacturers discharges highly...

    08/08/2007 - 16:25 Earth & Environment
  • Food for Thought

    Sour Genes, Yes—Salty Genes, No

    Some people abhor broccoli, complaining about its intensely bitter taste. Others (myself included) find broccoli's flavor interesting and pleasing—decidedly, not bitter. What leads to our differing culinary opinions is the possession of, or lack of, (in my case, evidently) genes conferring a super sensitivity to bitter taste. Science has recognized such genetic differences for at least a...

    07/18/2007 - 09:52 Science & Society
  • News

    Antibiotics in infancy tied to asthma

    Children given multiple doses of antibiotics before their first birthdays have a heightened risk of asthma later, a study shows.

    Researchers analyzed the medical records of 13,116 children born in Manitoba in 1995. Roughly 6 percent of the group developed asthma by age 7.

    Kids getting more than four courses of antibiotics during the first year of life were 1.5 times as likely to...

    07/02/2007 - 15:06 Biomedicine