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  • Feature

    Can science build a better burger?

    This isn’t as extreme as if the federal government had decided to regulate time travel. But it’s almost as surprising. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is taking the first step toward rules for growing nutritious, delicious, juicy meat in labs, not farms.

    The notion of growing, say, just the beef instead of the whole cow has been floating around since at least the 1890s. This sci-fi...

    09/20/2018 - 12:30 Agriculture, Climate, Sustainability, Nutrition
  • Feature

    How plant microbes could feed the world and save endangered species

    One fine Hawaiian day in 2015, Geoff Zahn and Anthony Amend set off on an eight-hour hike. They climbed a jungle mountain on the island of Oahu, swatting mosquitoes and skirting wallows of wild pigs. The two headed to the site where a patch of critically endangered Phyllostegia kaalaensis had been planted a few months earlier. What they found was dispiriting.

    “All the plants were gone,”...

    09/06/2018 - 11:00 Agriculture, Plants, Microbes
  • Feature

    As waters rise, coastal megacities like Mumbai face catastrophe

    Each year when the monsoon rain sheets down and the tides swell over coastal Mumbai, Saif shutters his soda shop on Juhu Beach and takes shelter up in the rafters. Still, the water invades through the roof and over the concrete floors, sometimes reaching as high as the freezers full of ice cream.

    For 36-year-old Saif, the coastal megacity’s chronic flooding is stressful. “What would...

    08/15/2018 - 09:30 Climate, Oceans, Sustainability
  • Feature

    Conflict reigns over the history and origins of money

    Wherever you go, money talks. And it has for a long time.

    Sadly, though, money has been mum about its origins. For such a central element of our lives, money’s ancient roots and the reasons for its invention are unclear.

    As cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin multiply into a flock of digital apparitions, researchers are still battling over how and where money came to be. And some draw...

    07/29/2018 - 08:00 Anthropology, Archaeology
  • Feature

    What consumer DNA data can and can’t tell you about your risk for certain diseases

    Results from Family Tree DNA, a genetic testing company, helped Lara Diamond find a branch of her family she thought had been lost in the Holocaust. Those 2012 results brought dozens of new people into her life.

    Eager to find more relatives, Diamond, now 42, a professional genealogist in Baltimore, decided to try out all the companies that offer geneaological DNA testing to see what else...

    06/03/2018 - 06:00 Genetics
  • News

    Guidelines call for limits to whole genome testing for fetuses

    Decades ago, pregnant women had to wait about 40 weeks before knowing much about their baby. But swiftly moving technology offers increasingly detailed peeks into the womb.

    Beyond generating adorable 3-D ultrasounds of scrunched-up faces, researchers can now analyze a fetus’s full genome from a simple blood draw from mom. But these genome-wide prenatal tests are not ready for prime time...

    05/31/2018 - 07:00 Genetics
  • Feature

    Consumer DNA testing promises more than it delivers

    In Nevada, 40,000 people are stepping up to the cutting edge of precision medicine. They are getting their DNA deciphered by the testing company Helix. The idea of the Healthy Nevada project is to link genetic and medical data with information about the environment to get a clearer picture of all the factors that influence health. The free tests are going like hot cakes.

    When the Healthy...

    05/22/2018 - 12:00 Genetics, Science & Society
  • Feature

    Meet the speedsters of the plant world

    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...

    05/16/2018 - 12:11 Plants, Biophysics, Physics
  • News

    Masses of shrimp and krill may play a huge role in mixing oceans

    When it comes to tiny ocean swimmers, the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. Ocean turbulence stirred up by multitudes of creatures such as krill can be powerful enough to extend hundreds of meters down into the deep, a new study suggests.

    Brine shrimp moving vertically in two different laboratory tanks created small eddies that aggregated into a jet roughly the size of the...

    04/18/2018 - 13:20 Oceans, Ecology
  • Reviews & Previews

    Why the Nobel Prize might need a makeover

    Losing the Nobel PrizeBrian KeatingW.W. Norton & Co., $27.95

    Dust may seem insignificant, but in science, it can cost you a Nobel Prize.

    That’s what happened to Brian Keating, a major contributor to the BICEP2 team that claimed in 2014 to have found the first definitive evidence of cosmic inflation (SN: 4/5/14, p. 6), a period of extremely rapid expansion just after the...

    04/02/2018 - 09:00 Cosmology, History of Science, Astronomy