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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

    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

    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
  • Feature

    Restoring Scents

    Betty (not her real name) remembers the day 9 years ago when she fully experienced an orange. As she split the fruit's skin, citrus scents sprayed into the air and the 51-year-old woman experienced a sensory epiphany: "Whoa! This is an orange. My God, this is what an orange smells like."

    Even now, she says, recalling that day "makes me tear up because that orange...

    07/02/2007 - 11:49 Biomedicine
  • News

    From Bad to Worse: Earth's warming to accelerate

    Global warming is real and will continue, and there's strong evidence that people are to blame, an international panel of scientists has concluded. Other scientists suggest ways that people might reduce future atmosphere-warming greenhouse-gas emissions and argue that societies will have to adapt to the climate change that's yet to occur.

    "The evidence for warming having happened...

    02/07/2007 - 09:26 Earth & Environment
  • Food for Thought

    New Estimates of the Shark-Fin Trade

    Immense numbers of sharks each year are slaughtered for their fins—not meat, just their fins. This harvest helps feed a growing appetite throughout Asia for a popular soup, one with snob appeal comparable to that of caviar. Indeed, a single bowl of shark-fin soup can cost $100 in a high-end Hong Kong restaurant.

    The key ingredient of shark-fin soup is...

    11/01/2006 - 13:22 Earth & Environment