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  • Feature

    Year in review: Sea ice loss will shake up ecosystems

    In a better world, it would be the big news of the year just to report that Arctic sea ice shrank to 4.14 million square kilometers this summer, well below the 1981–2010 average of 6.22 million square kilometers (SN Online: 9/19/16). But in this world of changing climate, extreme summer ice loss has become almost expected. More novel in 2016 were glimpses of the complex biological consequences...

    12/14/2016 - 07:37 Climate, Animals, Plants
  • News

    See where Clinton and Trump stand on science

    Hillary Clinton’s “I believe in science” declaration aside, science has not played a starring role in the 2016 presidential election. Far from it. For the most part, the candidates’ science policies have trickled out in dribs and drabs, and in varying degrees of detail — talking points on a website here, a passing comment in response to a spur-of-the-moment question there.

    Yet science...

    09/13/2016 - 12:25 Science & Society
  • Feature

    Fish escapes from marine farms raise concerns about wildlife

    On the dock in Buenaventura, Colombia, the fisherman needed help identifying his catch. “I don’t have any clue what this is,” he said, holding a roughly 50-centimeter-long, grayish-brown fish. Gustavo Castellanos-Galindo, a fish ecologist, recalls the conversation from last October. “I said, ‘Well, this is a cobia, and it shouldn’t be here.’ ”

    The juvenile cobia had probably escaped from...

    09/07/2016 - 16:12 Oceans, Ecosystems, Agriculture
  • Feature

    The brain’s blueprint for aging is set early in life

    If you’ve ever watched a baby purse her lips to hoot for the first time, or flash a big, gummy grin when she sees you, or surprise herself by rolling over, you’ve glimpsed the developing brain in action. A baby’s brain constructs itself into something that controls the body, learns and connects socially.

    Spending time with an older person, you may notice signs of slippage. An elderly man...

    07/13/2016 - 11:10 Neuroscience, Health
  • Feature

    Organisms age in myriad ways — and some might not even bother

    The scene was stranger than it looked, even by Las Vegas standards: Two young men pull up in a U-Haul truck to a motel outside the city. They check in and move a cooler into their room. They appear to be handling something of importance, and look to see if the ice needs replenishing. Inside the cooler is not the makings of epic hangovers but instead an experiment in eternal youth.

    Tucked...

    07/13/2016 - 11:09 Animals, Evolution, Plants
  • Feature

    New studies explore why ordinary people turn terrorist

    Fierce combat erupted in February 2016 at the northern Iraqi village of Kudilah. A Western-backed coalition of Arab Sunni tribesmen, Kurds in the Iraqi army and Kurdish government forces advanced on Islamic State fighters who had taken over the dusty outpost.

    Islamic State combatants, led by young men wearing explosive vests, fought back. The well-trained warriors scurried through battle...

    06/23/2016 - 13:00 Psychology, Anthropology
  • Feature

    Getting creative to cut methane from cows

    View the video

    In a pasture outside Edmonton, Canada, you’ll find a few dozen cows doing what cows do: mostly eating. The average animal spends eight-plus hours a day filling its belly, or as is the case with cows, bellies. Along with that enormous appetite, cows are born with the ability to digest almost any plant they can chew, thanks to a multichambered stomach and a helpful army of...

    11/18/2015 - 16:36 Animals, Microbes, Climate
  • News

    One bold, misinformed spider slows a colony’s ability to learn

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The wrong-headed notions of an influential individual can make a group sluggish in learning from its mistakes, even among spiders.

    Velvet spiders (Stegodyphus dumicola) with bold behavior but incorrect information were bad influences on their colonies, researchers reported June 11 at the annual conference of the Animal Behavior Society. Spider growth faltered in these...

    06/17/2015 - 11:54 Animals
  • Feature

    Rehab for psychopaths

    Nudity, mind-altering drugs and encounter groups bring out the worst in psychopaths behind bars. That’s not a pitch for a new reality television show — not yet, at least. It’s an evidence-based conclusion. An infamous experimental treatment program for violent criminals, conducted mainly from 1968 to 1978 in a Canadian maximum security psychiatric facility 90 miles north of Toronto, tried...

    06/17/2015 - 07:30 Mental Health
  • Feature

    How to rewire the eye

    A man who had been blind for 50 years allowed scientists to insert a tiny electrical probe into his eye.

    The man’s eyesight had been destroyed and the photoreceptors, or light-gathering cells, at the back of his eye no longer worked. Those cells, known as rods and cones, are the basis of human vision. Without them, the world becomes gray and formless, though not completely black. The...

    05/15/2015 - 14:10 Genetics, Technology, Health