Shrink yourself small enough to swoop over the surface of a human cell, and you might be reminded of Earth’s terrain. Fats, or lipids, stay close to the surface, like grasses and shrubs. Proteins stand above the shrubs, as mighty oaks or palm trees. But before you could distinguish the low-lying lipids from the towering proteins, you’d see something else adorning these molecules — sugars....
What happens when you shoot lasers at a dinosaur fossil? Some chemicals preserved in the fossil glow, providing a nuanced portrait of the ancient creature’s bones, feathers and soft tissue such as skin.
Soft tissue is rarely preserved in fossils, and when it is, it can be easily obscured. A technique called laser-stimulated fluorescence “excites the few skin atoms left in the matrix,...
Reviews & Previews
The ZooIsobel CharmanPegasus$27.95
When Tommy the chimpanzee first came to London’s zoo in the fall of 1835, he was dressed in an old white shirt.
Keepers gave him a new frock and a sailor hat and set him up in a cozy spot in the kitchen to weather the winter. Visitors flocked to get a look at the little ape roaming around the keepers’ lodge, curled up in the cook’s lap or tugging...
Reviews & Previews
Where the River FlowsSean W. FlemingPrinceton Univ.$26.95
Spend an hour wandering along a river and you may wonder why the water rushing by chose this particular path over any other. While many nature writers might offer philosophical musings on the subject, Where the River Flows author Sean Fleming has physics on his side.
Physics isn’t the lens through which most people think...
Not too long ago, the internet was stationary. Most often, we’d browse the Web from a desktop computer in our living room or office. If we were feeling really adventurous, maybe we’d cart our laptop to a coffee shop. Looking back, those days seem quaint.
Today, the internet moves through our lives with us. We hunt Pokémon as we shuffle down the sidewalk. We text at red lights. We tweet...
Large, detachable scales make a newly discovered species of gecko a tough catch. When a predator grabs hold, Madagascar’s Geckolepis megalepis strips down and slips away, looking more like slimy pink Silly Putty than a rugged lizard.
All species of Geckolepis geckos have tear-off scales that regrow within a few weeks, but G. megalepis boasts the largest. Some of its scales reach nearly 6...
Parasites can drive their hosts to do weird, dumb things. But in certain oak trees, the parasites themselves get played.
“Creepy and awesome,” says Kelly Weinersmith of Rice University in Houston, who has helped reveal a Russian doll of nested parasitisms.
The saga begins when two majestic live oak species in the southeastern United States send out new shoots, and female crypt gall...
A dinner plate piled high with food from plants might not deliver the same nutrition toward the end of this century as it does today. Climate change could shrink the mineral and protein content of wheat, rice and other staple crops, mounting evidence suggests.
Selenium, a trace element essential for human health, already falls short in diets of one in seven people worldwide. Studies link...
As the planet warms, carbon stashed in Earth’s soils could escape into the atmosphere far faster than previously thought. In the worst-case scenario for climate change, carbon dioxide emissions from soil-dwelling microbes could increase by 34 to 37 percent by 2100, researchers report online March 9 in Science. Previous studies predicted a more modest 9 to 12 percent rise if no efforts are...
News in Brief
Synthetic yeast is on the rise.
Scientists have constructed five more yeast chromosomes from scratch. The new work, reported online March 9 in Science, brings researchers closer to completely lab-built yeast.
“We’re doing it primarily to learn a little more about how cells are wired,” says geneticist Jef Boeke of the New York University Langone Medical Center. But scientists might...