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  • Reviews & Previews

    Microbes make the meal, new diet book proposes

    The Diet Myth
    Tim Spector
    Overlook Press, $28.95

    For 10 days, Tom Spector lived off McDonald’s.

    He had chicken nuggets or Big Macs for meals, Coke to wash them down and McFlurries for...

    09/02/2015 - 11:00 Health, Nutrition
  • News

    Nanogenerators harvest body’s energy to power devices

    Ask not what your gadgets can do for you; ask what you can do for your gadgets.

    In the race to create bionic humans, researchers are nanometers away from turning people into device chargers. Instruments called nanogenerators can harvest energy from swinging limbs, jiggling skin and ballooning lungs. And that energy can power wearable and implantable gizmos, such as pacemakers, muscle...

    09/01/2015 - 16:29 Materials, Biomedicine, Physics
  • Science Visualized

    How dollhouse crime scenes schooled 1940s cops

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    In November 1896, Lizzie Miller stumbled upon a shocking sight: The discolored body of her neighbor Maggie Wilson half-submerged in a bathtub, legs precariously dangling over the side. How did she die and who killed her?

    Wilson’s murder is fiction, though inspired by the work of...

    08/30/2015 - 10:53 History of Science, Science & Society
  • News

    Seeing humans as superpredators

    To get a glimpse of a superpredator, just look in the mirror. Comparing hunting habits of mammals and fishes reveals humans as Earth’s most dangerous, oddball predator — one that targets adult prey in large numbers, a practice that can push populations into decline.

    Humans’ main prey are reproductive adults, the...

    08/20/2015 - 14:00 Animals, Conservation, Ecology
  • News

    Teen e-cig users more likely to smoke tobacco

    E-cigarettes may tempt kids into trying tobacco.

    Teens who use e-cigarettes are more likely to start smoking cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products than teens who don’t use e-cigarettes, researchers report in the Aug. 18 JAMA. The study is the first to draw a link between e-cigarette use and later experimentation with...

    08/18/2015 - 11:00 Health
  • Reviews & Previews

    Three kids’ science books offer fun, fascinating experiments

    Summer has flown by. As the school year begins, three recently published books can pique kids’ curiosity about science and get them experimenting. The books, newly out in paperback or revised edition, offer a wealth of ideas for budding naturalists, physicists or chemists.

    Many at-home, do-it-yourself physics books boast that their experiments can be done with household items, but then...

    08/14/2015 - 06:00 Chemistry, Physics, Ecology
  • It's Alive

    Boa suffocation is merely myth

    Boa constrictors don’t so much suffocate prey as break their hearts. It turns out that the snakes kill like demon blood pressure cuffs, squeezing down circulation to its final stop. The notion that constrictors slay by preventing breathing turns out to be wrong.

    The snakes don’t need limbs, or even venom, to bring down an animal of their own size. “Imagine you’re killing and swallowing a...

    08/09/2015 - 09:00 Animals
  • Culture Beaker

    A few key signs betray betrayal

    Whether it’s Katy Perry poaching dancers from once-BFF Taylor Swift or Clytemnestra orchestrating the murder of her husband Agamemnon, betrayal is a dark, persistent part of the human condition. Unlike garden-variety deception, betrayal happens in established relationships, destroying trust that has developed over time. It’s usually unexpected, and it yields a unique, often irreparable, wound...

    08/07/2015 - 14:58 Science & Society, Computing, Psychology
  • It's Alive

    First known venomous frogs stab with toxin-dripping lip spikes

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    Carlos Jared discovered the first known venomous frog by accident. And it took him a long time to connect his pain with tree frogs that head-butted his hand.

    Jared, now at the Butantan Institute in São Paulo, got his first hint of true venom when collecting yellow-skinned frogs (Corythomantis greeningi) among cacti and scrubby trees...

    08/06/2015 - 12:00 Animals, Evolution
  • Feature

    The tree of life gets a makeover

    The tree of life might seem like a stable design, appropriate for indelible ink. Plenty of people think so. An Internet search for “phylogenetic tattoos” turns up some showy skin art.

    But the branches are shifting. Since a radial diagram based on 1990s genetics inspired a rush for tree-of-life tattoos, technical diagrams of life’s ancestral connections have been redrawn. And the...

    07/29/2015 - 15:00 Evolution, Microbes, Genetics