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E.g., 10/21/2017
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  • News

    To understand the origins of pain, ask a flatworm

    Hydrogen peroxide, a molecule produced by cells under duress, may be a common danger signal, helping to alert animals to potential harm and send them scurrying. New details from planarian flatworms of how this process works may deepen scientists’ understanding of how people detect pain, and may ultimately point to better ways to curb it.

    “Being able to get a big-picture view of how these...

    10/16/2017 - 12:46 Animals, Neuroscience, Genetics
  • Feature

    Machines are getting schooled on fairness

    You’ve probably encountered at least one machine-learning algorithm today. These clever computer codes sort search engine results, weed spam e-mails from inboxes and optimize navigation routes in real time. People entrust these programs with increasingly complex — and sometimes life-changing — decisions, such as diagnosing diseases and predicting criminal activity.

    Machine-learning...

    09/06/2017 - 13:00 Technology, Science & Society
  • News

    Rumors swirl that LIGO snagged gravitational waves from a neutron star collision

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    Speculation is running rampant about potential new discoveries of gravitational waves, just as the latest search wound down August 25.

    Publicly available logs from astronomical observatories indicate that several telescopes have been zeroing in on one particular region of the sky, potentially in response to a detection of ripples in spacetime by the Advanced Laser...

    08/25/2017 - 15:14 Astronomy, Physics
  • Editor's Note

    Expert eavesdroppers occasionally catch a break

    In July of 1972, NASA launched the first Landsat satellite into orbit around Earth. Since then, the spacecraft and its successors have transformed our understanding of Antarctica (and the rest of the planet, too). In the first year following the launch, Landsat’s images of the faraway continent showed “uncharted mountain ranges, vast ice movements and errors in maps as little as two years old...

    07/26/2017 - 13:15 Earth, Science & Society
  • Science Ticker

    This robot grows like a plant

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    Robots are branching out. A new prototype soft robot takes inspiration from plants by growing to explore its environment.

    Vines and some fungi extend from their tips to explore their surroundings. Elliot Hawkes of the University of California in Santa Barbara and his colleagues designed a bot that works on similar principles. Its mechanical body sits inside a plastic...

    07/19/2017 - 17:26 Robotics, Plants
  • News

    Protein in Parkinson’s provokes the immune system

    Bits of a protein that builds up in Parkinson’s disease trigger the immune system, causing it to tag them as foreign invaders.

    In a blood test, immune cells called T cells became activated when exposed to the protein in about 40 percent of Parkinson’s patients in a new study. This autoimmune response may contribute to the progression of the disease, the researchers report online June 21...

    06/21/2017 - 13:25 Biomedicine, Health, Immune Science
  • News

    Ancient DNA shakes up the elephant family tree

    Fossil DNA may be rewriting the history of elephant evolution.

    The first genetic analysis of DNA from fossils of straight-tusked elephants reveals that the extinct animals most closely resembled modern African forest elephants. This suggests that straight-tusked elephants were part of the African, not Asian, elephant lineage, scientists report online June 6 in eLife.

    Straight-...

    06/13/2017 - 15:08 Evolution, Genetics, Animals
  • News

    How a flamingo balances on one leg

    A question flamingo researchers get asked all the time — why the birds stand on one leg — may need rethinking. The bigger puzzle may be why flamingos bother standing on two.

    Balance aids built into the birds’ basic anatomy allow for a one-legged stance that demands little muscular effort, tests find. This stance is so exquisitely stable that a bird sways less to keep itself upright when...

    05/23/2017 - 19:59 Biophysics, Animals
  • It's Alive

    Blennies have a lot of fang for such little fishes

    After a recent flurry of news that fang blennies mix an opioid in their venom, a question lingers: What do they need with fangs anyway? Most eat wimpy stuff that hardly justifies whopper canines.

    Not that fang blennies are meek fishes.

    “When they bite, they bite savagely,” says Bryan Fry of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. “If these little jobbies were 3 meters...

    05/16/2017 - 10:00 Animals, Evolution
  • Feature

    Jumping genes play a big role in what makes us human

    Face-to-face, a human and a chimpanzee are easy to tell apart. The two species share a common primate ancestor, but over millions of years, their characteristics have morphed into easily distinguishable features. Chimps developed prominent brow ridges, flat noses, low-crowned heads and protruding muzzles. Human noses jut from relatively flat faces under high-domed crowns.

    Those facial...

    05/16/2017 - 07:00 Genetics, Human Evolution, Molecular Evolution