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  • 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
  • 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

    Orexin-blocking pill speeds sleep onset

    A new compound that inhibits the activity of alertness-promoting brain peptides called orexins shows promise as a sleeping pill, according to tests in people and animals.

    Men who took the drug fell asleep more quickly than did men who took a placebo, neurobiologist François Jenck of Actelion Pharmaceuticals in Allschwil, Switzerland, and his collaborators report in the February Nature...

    02/13/2007 - 10:59 Biomedicine
  • 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
  • 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

    Fish as Farmers: Reef residents tend an algal crop

    A damselfish cultivates underwater gardens of an algal species that researchers haven't found growing on its own.

    The special alga could be the fishy version of people's domesticated crops, says Hiroki Hata of Kyoto University in Japan. Growth tests of the alga, surveys of its distribution, and genetic analyses support that idea, he and Makoto Kato say in an upcoming Biology...

    08/09/2006 - 12:05 Ecology
  • 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 Other
  • Food for Thought

    Fruity Relief for Weekend Warriors

    After 2 years of planning, you're finally able to afford a long weekend off for that ski trip to Aspen. The first day out, you put in 5 or 6 hours working your way down the slopes. You had planned to do the same thing each of the next 2 days—until you awake feeling sore from head to toe. The next day you feel even worse, so you settle for spending the rest of your trip in the lodge, sipping...

    06/29/2006 - 12:26 Nutrition
  • News

    Herbal therapy for beleaguered lawns

    Many people don't like the biting taste of mustard. Neither, it turns out, do sting nematodes—small, parasitic roundworms that siphon food from plant roots. That finding could prove good news for maintaining golf courses, sports fields, and other picture-perfect lawns.

    Some weeds and other plants naturally resist sting nematodes (Belonolaimus longicaudatus Rau). Suspecting that these...

    06/21/2006 - 09:33 Plants