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Even tiny brains can learn strange and tricky stuff, especially by watching tiny experts.
Buff-tailed bumblebees got several chances to watch a trained bee roll a ball to a goal. These observers then quickly mastered the unusual task themselves when given a chance, researchers report in the Feb. 24 Science. And most of the newcomers even improved on the goal-sinking...
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Humans and Neandertals are still in an evolutionary contest, a new study suggests.
Geneticist Joshua Akey of the University of Washington in Seattle and colleagues examined gene activity of more than 700 genes in which at least one person carried a human and a Neandertal version of the gene. Human versions of some genes are more active than Neandertal versions, especially in the brain...
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The 20th century will go down in history — it pretty much already has — as the century of the physicist. Physicists’ revolutionizing of the scientific world view with relativity and quantum mechanics might have been enough to warrant that conclusion. Future historians may emphasize even more, though, the role of physicists in war and government. Two such physicists, one born at the century’s...
There are few simple answers in science. Even seemingly straightforward questions, when probed by people in search of proof, lead to more questions. Those questions lead to nuances, layers of complexity and, more often than we might expect, conclusions that contradict initial intuition.
In the 1990s, researchers asking “How do we fight oxygen-hungry cancer cells?” offered an obvious...
Letters to the Editor
Saved by the Bell02/22/2017 - 12:43 Quantum Physics, Earth, Technology
Physicists used light from stars to perform a cosmic Bell test, which verified that quantum particles were indeed “spooky,” Emily Conover reported in “Quantum effect passes space test” (SN: 1/21/17, p. 12).
Reader George Mitchell took issue with Conover’s description of entangled photons before they are measured as having multiple polarizations at once. “We don’t know...
Like many living things, a cancer cell cannot survive without oxygen. When young and tiny, a malignancy nestles inside a bed of blood vessels that keep it fed. As the mass grows, however, its demand for oxygen outpaces supply. Pockets within the tumor become deprived and send emergency signals for new vessel growth, a process called angiogenesis. In the 1990s, a popular cancer-...
Platinum, one of the rarest and most expensive metals on Earth, may soon find itself out of a job. Known for its allure in engagement rings, platinum is also treasured for its ability to jump-start chemical reactions. It’s an excellent catalyst, able to turn standoffish molecules into fast friends. But Earth’s supply of the metal is limited, so scientists are trying to coax materials that aren...
A big coconut crab snaps its outsized left claw as hard as a lion can bite, new measurements suggest. So what does a land crab the size of a small house cat do with all that pinch power?
For starters, it protests having its claw-force measured, says Shin-ichiro Oka of the Okinawa Churashima Foundation in Motobu, Japan. “The coconut crab is very shy,” he says. It doesn’t attack people...
News in Brief
BOSTON — A new imaging technique takes advantage of DNA’s natural ability to “blink” in response to stimulating light. The new approach will allow unprecedented views of genetic material and other cellular players. It’s the first method to resolve features smaller than 10 nanometers, biomedical engineer Vadim Backman said February 17 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the...
NASA’s Juno spacecraft will stay in its current 53-day orbit around Jupiter instead of closing into a 14-day orbit as originally planned, the Juno team announced February 17.
An issue with two helium check valves, which are tied to the spacecraft’s main engine, had scientists concerned. The valves took several minutes to open when the team pressurized the spacecraft’s propulsion system...