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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

    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

    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
  • Food for Thought

    How Plastic We've Become

    In the 1967 film classic The Graduate, a businessman corners Benjamin Braddock at a cocktail party and gives him a bit of career advice. "Just one word…plastics."

    Although Benjamin didn't heed that recommendation, plenty of other young graduates did. Today, the planet is awash in products spawned by the plastics industry. Residues of plastics have become ubiquitous in the environment—and...

    01/17/2008 - 17:32 Sustainability