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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...

    08/23/2013 - 12:00 Earth
  • 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...

    01/30/2008 - 12:22 Earth
  • 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
  • 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...

    11/01/2006 - 13:22 Earth & Environment
  • Food for Thought

    Cola May Weaken Women's Bones

    Middle age and older women may want to limit their consumption of cola-flavored soft drinks. A new study links regular consumption of these beverages with reduced mineral density of hip bones in women past menopause. No similar hip vulnerability to cola showed up in men of the same age.

    The gender-specific finding was quite strong, notes Katherine L. Tucker of the Jean Mayer...

    10/24/2006 - 10:09 Nutrition
  • Feature

    Venting Concerns

    Researchers cruising the South Pacific between Tonga and Fiji study huge snails that, aided by an abundance of bacteria housed in their gills, feed off plumes of metal-rich compounds at active hydrothermal vents. Scientists working off the California coast use chemical-sniffing probes, robotically driven subs, and seafloor-tethered temperature sensors to watch flows of lava pave over a once-...

    10/03/2006 - 10:43 Humans & Society
  • Feature

    Pick Your Antipoison

    On a warm, sunny afternoon last June, emergency room physician Sean Bush got a call on his pager that made his blood run cold. The number was his wife's, followed by three digits: 9-1-1. Whatever the page concerned, Bush knew that it was a serious emergency—he and his wife don't take those numbers lightly.

    A quick call from the hospital where he was on duty to...

    09/12/2006 - 09:49 Biomedicine
  • News

    Underage Spiders: Males show unexpected interest in young mates

    To the surprise of biologists, a male Australian redback spider will mate with a juvenile female before her reproductive tract has an external opening. The male bites through the immature female's outer covering and by doing so, protects his own life.

    This discovery adds a new twist to a textbook example of extreme mating practices. Until now, biologists had focused on these...

    08/23/2006 - 11:47 Animals
  • News

    Social jet lag: Need a smoke?

    From Munich, at the Euroscience Open Forum meeting

    People who have a hard time waking in the morning because their bodies' internal clocks are out of sync with their sleep schedules are said to have "social jet lag." Researchers in Europe have determined that the phenomenon strongly correlates with smoking.

    Battling one's biological clock can leave people weary in the same way as...

    08/01/2006 - 12:19