Researchers have discovered what they regard as the oldest known fossil from the human genus, Homo. But questions about the evolutionary status of the approximately 2.8-million-year-old lower jaw have already emerged.Found in 2013 resting atop eroding soil in Ethiopia’s Ledi-Geraru research area, the fossil jaw contains several signature Homo features, including small and...
03/04/2015 - 13:00
Human Evolution, Anthropology, Ancestry
View the videoTo dodge obstacles, pigeons have to know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. By altering their wing posture, the birds can successfully navigate tight spots, researchers report March 2 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences.Harvard University researchers filmed and...
03/03/2015 - 15:52
News in Brief
The Hubble Space Telescope has some competition. A telescope in Chile has captured a three-dimensional view of a part of the sky previously imaged by Hubble. The image stretches across cosmic time, revealing modern day galaxies as well as ones seen as they existed when the universe was less than a billion years old. A single observation from a new high-tech camera on the telescope captured not...
03/03/2015 - 13:06
Laura Sanders is away on maternity leave.Give a toddler an iPhone and 10 minutes, and she’ll take at least 50 selfies and buy a car on eBay. Give her an iPad, and she’ll stumble upon decidedly non-kid-friendly episodes of Breaking Bad.With smartphones and tablets, children are exposed to an unprecedented amount of screen...
02/26/2015 - 16:00
Human Development, Neuroscience
View the videoWith a single algorithm, a computer can learn dozens of classic video games, researchers from Google DeepMind in London report in the Feb. 26 Nature. With no prior knowledge of video games, the algorithm considers the visual elements of Atari 2600 games including Pong, Q*bert and Ms. Pac-Man. It then...
02/25/2015 - 13:09
Computing, Technology, Numbers
News in Brief
For the first time, scientists have witnessed a direct connection between rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and an increase in the amount of thermal radiation striking Earth’s surface. The work affirms a cornerstone of the theory that humans have contributed to worldwide warming in recent decades, the researchers report...
02/25/2015 - 13:00
In the first seven weeks of 2015, measles struck 141 people in 17 states and Washington, D.C. Most people in the United States are protected against the often severe fever and rash by having had one or more doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. But a small fraction of people either can’t get the shot — they are too young or have weak immune systems — or choose not to.The immunity of...
02/25/2015 - 11:30
Letters to the Editor
Water’s origin storyNew evidence suggests that comets may not have delivered water to Earth. Water detected in comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko’s hazy atmosphere isn’t a chemical match for Earth’s oceans, as Ashley Yeager reported in “Ocean water may not be from comets” (...
02/25/2015 - 10:30
Earth, Planetary Science
My favorite quote in Nathan Seppa’s story about chronic stress and health belongs to Rosalind Wright, a pulmonologist who studies links between psychological stress and diseases like asthma. Stress, she says, is “not just affecting your head.”Of course, the brain is where chronic stress starts. But its influences on the body roam far...
02/25/2015 - 10:30
Health, Mental Health
When it comes to celebrating scientific anniversaries, there aren’t many opportunities to look back a whole millennium. Western Europe in the 11th century was about as scientifically astute as an anti-vaccine convention today. But farther east, in the Islamic world, numerous savants were hard at work preserving and expanding the wisdom of the ancient Greeks.Soon after the advent of Islam,...
02/24/2015 - 18:06
History of Science