Reviews & Previews
The Big NineAmy WebbPublicAffairs, $27
Whether artificial intelligence is humankind’s best friend or greatest threat has been widely debated. We’ve all heard promises of device-studded smart homes conferring unprecedented convenience, as well as warnings of killer robots. The Big Nine is a different kind of story about the potential risks and rewards of AI.
WASHINGTON — Beliefs among some university professors that intelligence is fixed, rather than capable of growth, contribute to a racial achievement gap in STEM courses, a new study suggests.
Those professors may subtly communicate stereotypes about blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans allegedly being less intelligent than Asians and whites, say psychologist Elizabeth Canning of Indiana...
A 240-million-year-old case of bone cancer has turned up in a fossil of an extinct ancestor of turtles. Dating to the Triassic Period, the fossil is the oldest known example of this cancer in an amniote, a group that includes mammals, birds and reptiles, researchers report online February 7 in JAMA Oncology.
The fossilized left femur from the shell-less stem-turtle Pappochelys rosinae...
Like seismic sensors planted in quiet ground, hundreds of tiny electrodes rested in the outer layer of the 44-year-old woman’s brain. These sensors, each slightly larger than a sesame seed, had been implanted under her skull to listen for the first rumblings of epileptic seizures.
The electrodes gave researchers unprecedented access to the patient’s brain. With the woman’s permission,...
Letters to the Editor
Gut connection01/27/2019 - 07:15 Health, Animals, Numbers
Abnormal proteins tied to Parkinson’s disease may form in the gut before traveling through the body’s nervous system to the brain, Laura Beil reported in “A gut-brain link for Parkinson’s gets a closer look” (SN: 12/8/18, p. 22).
The vagus nerve offers a connection between nerves in the gut and those in the brain. Beil reported on one study that showed that people who...
In the supplement world, vitamin D is a bit like a Kardashian. Its fame seemed to come out of nowhere about a decade ago, garnering so much press so fast that it’s hard to remember a time when people weren’t talking about it.
Vitamin D had long been known for protecting bones, but its star began to rise in the early 2000s after researchers made connections hinting that vitamin D was good...
News in Brief
Much to their surprise, scientists in Antarctica have uncovered what appear to be remnants of tiny animals in mud dredged from a lake that has been covered by a thick mantle of ice for thousands of years.
The researchers on this expedition — known as the Subglacial Antarctic Lakes Scientific Access, or SALSA — are the first to sample Lake Mercer, a body of water about 600 kilometers from...
Young nerve cells derived from people with autism are precocious, growing bigger and developing sooner than cells taken from people without autism, a new study shows.
The results, described January 7 in Nature Neuroscience, hint that in some cases nerve cells veer off course early in brain development to ultimately cause the disorder.
As a proxy of brain growth, researchers led by...
Reviews & Previews
Quantum physics has earned a reputation as a realm of science beyond human comprehension. It describes a microworld of perplexing, paradoxical phenomena. Its equations imply a multiplicity of possible realities; an observation seems to select one of those possibilities for accessibility to human perception. The rest either disappear, remain hidden or weren’t really there to begin...
Year in Review
On November 15, Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, announced new sales restrictions on certain e-cigarette flavors preferred by teens. The move was a response to a worrying rise in vaping among adolescents in the last year. “E-cigs have become an almost ubiquitous and dangerous trend among teens,” he warned, calling it an “epidemic” in a September...12/19/2018 - 06:00 Health