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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

    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

    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

    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
  • Feature

    Back from the Dead?

    In December 1938, Marjorie Courtney-Latimer, curator of a natural history museum in East London, South Africa, went to the docks to look for interesting specimens among the day's catch. What she found one day she later described as "the most beautiful fish I had ever seen ... a pale mauve blue with iridescent silver markings." The discovery sent scientists into a frenzy.

    ...

    11/13/2007 - 11:15 Paleontology
  • News

    Universities seek armchair astronomers

    Nonscientists and researchers alike have a chance to see something no one else ever has—a few of the million far-off galaxies that the Sloan Digital Sky Survey has recently photographed. The price of admission: People viewing the new images online must do a little work for the astronomers in charge, classifying individual galaxies as either spiral armed or elliptical collections of stars....

    07/23/2007 - 14:59 Humans & Society
  • 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
  • News

    A smart pill for seniors?

    From Washington, D.C., at the Experimental Biology 2007 Conference

    Many people approaching retirement age find that memories fade and quick-wittedness flags. Scientists at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell have formulated what they call a "smart pill" to optimize brain health in such people. In pilot trials, its combination of dietary supplements boosted performance on simple...

    05/08/2007 - 14:49 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