Somewhere in the wetlands of South Carolina, a buzzing fly alights on a rosy-pink surface. As the fly explores the strange scenery, it unknowingly brushes a small hair sticking up like a slender sword. Strolling along, the fly accidentally grazes another hair. Suddenly, the pink surface closes in from both sides, snapping shut like a pair of ravenous jaws. The blur of movement lasts only a...
The Science Life
What do land mines and tuberculosis have in common? Both kill people in developing countries — and both can be sniffed out by rodents that grow up to 3 feet, head to tail.
Since 2000, the international nonprofit APOPO has partnered with Tanzania’s Sokoine University of Agriculture to train African giant pouched rats (Cricetomys ansorgei) to pick up the scent of TNT in land mines. By 2016...
With a mortar and pestle, Christy Till blends together the makings of a distant planet. In her geology lab at Arizona State University in Tempe, Till carefully measures out powdered minerals, tips them into a metal capsule and bakes them in a high-pressure furnace that can reach close to 35,000 times Earth’s atmospheric pressure and 2,000° Celsius.
In this interplanetary test kitchen,...
Astronomers are going gaga over Gaia.
The April 25 release of data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft, which cataloged nearly 1.7 billion stars, has kicked off a scientific spree, with multiple papers published online in the last two weeks at arXiv.org.
Charting stars in the Milky Way and beyond, Gaia surveys the entire sky. The spacecraft can measure stars’ motions...
News in Brief
Pulling DNA out of bottles of seawater collected from reefs has revealed some of what biologists are calling the “dark diversity” of sharks.
Physicists have their dark matter, known from indirect evidence since humans can’t see it. Dark diversity for biologists means species they don’t see in some reef, forest or other habitat, though predictions or older records say the creatures could...
Starve the tumor, not the cell
Animal experiments demonstrate for the first time that transplanted tumors release a chemical into the host’s bloodstream that causes the host to produce blood vessels to supply the tumor.… If such a factor can be identified in human cancers … it might be possible to prevent the vascularization of tumors. Since tumors above a certain small size require...
Like a genetic handyman, an elusive enzyme deep inside certain cells repairs the tips of chromosomes, which fray as cells divide. It’s prized by rapidly dividing cells – like stem cells and tumor cells – and by scientists on the hunt for cancer and other disease therapies.
Now researchers have the best picture yet of this enzyme, called telomerase. Using cryo-electron microscopy,...
Pick an animal.
Choose wisely because in this fantasy you’ll transform into the creature and duel against one of your own. If you care about survival, go for the muscular, multispiked stag roaring at a rival. Never, ever pick the wingless male fig wasp. Way too dangerous.
This advice sounds exactly wrong. But that’s because many stereotypes of animal conflict get the real biology...
Subscribers to Science News may note that this special double issue is a lot heftier than the usual magazine, boasting more than 20 pages of advertisements. That’s up from 13 pages in last spring’s expanded issue.05/02/2018 - 07:15 Science & Society
Indeed, our ace marketing department sold so many ads that we had to include more articles, which, as anyone in print publishing will tell you, is a very nice problem to...
Letters to the Editor
Particle particulars05/02/2018 - 07:00 Particle Physics, Genetics
Physicists are ramping up their search for neutrinoless double beta decay, which could help explain why there is more matter in the universe than antimatter, Emily Conover reported in “The quest to identify the nature of the neutrino’s alter ego is heating up” (SN: 3/17/18, p. 14).
Reader F L Stiles wondered how this decay could explain a surplus of matter. “It...