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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

    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

    Floral Shocker: Blooms shake roots of flowering-plant family

    Imagine discovering a mammal without mammary glands or an insect with eight legs. Aquatic herbs in the genus Hydatella pose a similar paradox—they lack a defining developmental feature of flowering plants, raising questions about their evolution and rampant speciation during the past 135 million years.

    Evolutionary biologists group together organisms that share unique traits,...

    03/19/2008 - 13:25 Plants
  • 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

    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
  • News

    Spying Vision Cells: Eye's motion detectors are finally found

    The eye's retina does more than register images the way film or a digital camera detector does. To allow it to begin analyzing an image, the retina has specialized nerve cells that respond to motion or other important features in the image detected by the light-sensing rod and cone cells.

    Scientists discovered the specialized cells that sense motion in the retinas of cats and other...

    10/10/2007 - 15:30 Other