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  • Scicurious

    Most Americans like science — and are willing to pay for it

    Americans don’t hate science. Quite the contrary. In fact, 79 percent of Americans think science has made their lives easier, a 2014 Pew Research Center survey found. More than 60 percent of people also believe that government funding for science is essential to its success.

    But should the United States spend more money on scientific research than it already does? A layperson’s answer to...

    03/24/2017 - 13:00 Science & Society
  • News

    Ancient Romans may have been cozier with Huns than they let on

    Nomadic warriors and herders known as the Huns are described in historical accounts as having instigated the fifth century fall of the Roman Empire under Attila’s leadership. But the invaders weren’t always so fierce. Sometimes they shared rather than fought with the Romans, new evidence suggests.

    Huns and farmers living around the Roman Empire’s eastern border, where the Danube River...

    03/24/2017 - 11:38 Archaeology, Anthropology
  • 50 Years Ago

    In 1967, LSD was briefly labeled a breaker of chromosomes

    LSD may damage chromosomes

    Two New York researchers have found the hallucinogenic drug will markedly increase the rate of abnormal change in chromosomes. [Scientists] tested LSD on cell cultures from the blood of two healthy individuals … [and] also found similar abnormal changes in the blood of a schizophrenic patient who had been treated with [LSD]. The cell cultures showed a two-fold...

    03/23/2017 - 07:00 Genetics, Neuroscience
  • Editor's Note

    Lab tests aren’t the answer for every science question

    In the second half of the 17th century, the chemist and polymath Robert Boyle and philosopher Thomas Hobbes engaged in a divisive debate centered on a temperamental, mechanical contraption known as an air pump. In a series of famous experiments, Boyle used the air pump, which has been called “the cyclotron of its age,” to test basic scientific principles such as the relationship between a gas’...

    03/22/2017 - 12:15 Neuroscience, History of Science, Science & Society
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers question supernova physics

    Supernova surprise

    Astronomers continue to learn a lot from supernova 1987A, which burst onto the scene 30 years ago. Thanks to new detectors that can pick up neutrino signals and even gravitational waves, scientists will be ready when the next nearby star explodes, Emily Conover reported in “Waiting for a supernova” (SN: 2/18/17, p. 24).

    Steve Capps wondered how neutrinos inside an...

    03/22/2017 - 12:10 Particle Physics, Robotics, Condensed Matter
  • Science Visualized

    Colorful pinwheel puts a new spin on mouse pregnancy

    View slideshow of other winners

    This rainbow pinwheel of mouse placentas isn’t just an eye-catching, award-winning image. The differences in color also provide researchers with new clues to how a mother’s immune system may affect her or her baby’s health during pregnancy. The work could lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment of preeclampsia, a common pregnancy complication. 

    ...

    03/22/2017 - 07:00 Animals, Immune Science, Science & Society
  • Feature

    Cancer cells cast a sweet spell on the immune system

    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.

    ...
    03/21/2017 - 12:00 Cancer, Immune Science
  • Science Visualized

    Under lasers, a feathered dino shows some skin

    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,...

    03/20/2017 - 14:40 Paleontology
  • Reviews & Previews

    Shocking stories tell tale of London Zoo’s founding

    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...

    03/20/2017 - 07:00 Animals, History of Science
  • Reviews & Previews

    To understand rivers, let physics be your guide

    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...

    03/19/2017 - 08:00 Physics, Earth