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  • News

    Bones make hormones that communicate with the brain and other organs

    Long typecast as the strong silent type, bones are speaking up.

    In addition to providing structural support, the skeleton is a versatile conversationalist. Bones make hormones that chat with other organs and tissues, including the brain, kidneys and pancreas, experiments in mice have shown.

    “The bone, which was considered a dead organ, has really become a gland almost,” says Beate...

    06/21/2017 - 15:00 Health, Biomedicine, Cells
  • Feature

    Chaco Canyon’s ancient civilization continues to puzzle

    Chaco Canyon is a land of extremes. Summer heat scorches the desert canyon, which is sandwiched between sandstone cliffs nearly two kilometers above sea level in New Mexico’s northwestern corner. Bitter cold sweeps in for winter. Temperatures can swing as many as 28 degrees Celsius during the course of a day. Through it all, Chaco Canyon maintains a desolate beauty and a craggy pride as home...

    05/17/2017 - 07:00 Archaeology, Anthropology
  • Feature

    Yes, statins protect hearts. But critics question their expanding use

    Cholesterol is so important to life that practically every human cell makes it. Cells use the compound to keep their membranes porous and springy, and to produce hormones and other vital substances. The body can make all the cholesterol it needs, but Americans tend to have a surplus, thanks in large part to too little exercise and too much meat, cheese and grease. Fifty years ago, researchers...

    05/03/2017 - 07:00 Health, Biomedicine
  • It's Alive

    Meat-eating pitcher plants raise deathtraps to an art

    Tricking some bug into drowning takes finesse, especially for a hungry meat eater with no brain, eyes or moving parts. Yet California pitcher plants are very good at it.

    Growing where deposits of the mineral serpentine would kill most other plants, Darlingtonia californica survives in low-nutrient soil by being “very meat dependent,” says David Armitage of the University of Notre Dame in...

    01/06/2017 - 07:00 Plants, Ecology, Evolution
  • 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
  • Feature

    For robots, artificial intelligence gets physical

    View the video

    In a high-ceilinged laboratory at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C., a gleaming white robot stitches up pig intestines.

    The thin pink tissue dangles like a deflated balloon from a sturdy plastic loop. Two bulky cameras watch from above as the bot weaves green thread in and out, slowly sewing together two sections. Like an experienced human surgeon...

    11/02/2016 - 17:16 Robotics, Science & Society
  • Feature

    Lawrence David’s gut check gets personal

    Lawrence David, 33Computational biologistDuke University

    A Jim Carrey movie inspired computational biologist Lawrence David to change the course of his research. As a graduate student, David saw Yes Man, a 2008 film in which Carrey’s character is forced to say yes to all propositions.

    David thought the movie’s message about opening yourself to new experiences, even uncomfortable ones,...

    09/21/2016 - 11:06 Human Evolution, Microbes, Cells
  • 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
  • News

    Study ranks Greenland shark as longest-lived vertebrate

    The latest in birthday science proposes that the vertebrate with the longest life span yet measured is the mysterious Greenland shark.

    Dating based on forms of carbon found in sharks’ eye lenses suggests that a large female Somniosus microcephalus was about 392 years old (give or take 120 years) when she died, says marine biologist Julius Nielsen of University of Copenhagen. Even with...

    08/11/2016 - 14:00 Animals, Conservation