Clusters of a toxic bacterial protein have a surprising structure, differing from similar clumps associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s in humans, scientists report in the Feb. 24 Science.
These clusters, called amyloids, are defined in part by their structure: straight regions of protein chains called beta strands, folded accordion-style into flat beta sheets, which then stack up...
A preschool classroom is an ecosystem unlike any other. Scents of glue and snack time waft through the air. Bright, clunky art papers the walls. Fun-sized furniture makes visiting adults feel like awkward giants. In the name of science, a team of psychologists spent an entire year inside two such rooms, meticulously documenting changes in preschoolers’ personalities.
By the end of the...
Reviews & Previews
The 20th century will go down in history — it pretty much already has — as the century of the physicist. Physicists’ revolutionizing of the scientific world view with relativity and quantum mechanics might have been enough to warrant that conclusion. Future historians may emphasize even more, though, the role of physicists in war and government. Two such physicists, one born at the century’s...
A nearby ultracool star harbors seven Earth-sized planets, three with orbits that potentially put them in a habitable zone. That makes the system, around a star called TRAPPIST-1, a prime target in the search for signs of alien life. Its discovery also hints that many more cousins of Earth may be out there than astronomers thought.
“It’s rather stunning that the system has so many Earth-...
How many stressed-out stinkbugs does it take to spoil a batch of wine? More than three per grape cluster, new research says.
Stinkbugs are a pest among vintners because of the bugs’ taste for wine grapes and namesake foul smell. When accidentally harvested with the grapes and fermented during the wine-making process, the live insects can release their stink and ruin the wine (SN: 5/5/07...
Chimps with little social status influence their comrades’ behavior to a surprising extent, a new study suggests.
In groups of captive chimps, a method for snagging food from a box spread among many individuals who saw a low-ranking female peer demonstrate the technique, say primatologist Stuart Watson of the University of St. Andrews in Fife, Scotland, and colleagues. But in other...
Platinum, one of the rarest and most expensive metals on Earth, may soon find itself out of a job. Known for its allure in engagement rings, platinum is also treasured for its ability to jump-start chemical reactions. It’s an excellent catalyst, able to turn standoffish molecules into fast friends. But Earth’s supply of the metal is limited, so scientists are trying to coax materials that aren...
A big coconut crab snaps its outsized left claw as hard as a lion can bite, new measurements suggest. So what does a land crab the size of a small house cat do with all that pinch power?
For starters, it protests having its claw-force measured, says Shin-ichiro Oka of the Okinawa Churashima Foundation in Motobu, Japan. “The coconut crab is very shy,” he says. It doesn’t attack people...
Science & the Public
Stormy, with a good chance of cyclones. That’s the forecast for Jupiter’s south pole — a region never seen before but quickly coming into focus with the help of citizen scientists.
Music producer Roman Tkachenko’s edited image of Jupiter’s nether regions (featured above) is a perfect example. His enhancements make the swirling cyclones and white oval storms really pop compared with the...
50 Years Ago
Computers that hear
Computer engineers have dreamed of a machine that would translate speech into something that a vacuum tube or transistor could understand. Now at last, some promising hardware is being developed.... It is still a long way from the kind of science fiction computer that can understand sentences or long speeches. — Science News, March 4, 1967Update