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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

    Eels may not take most direct route in epic ocean-crossing spawning runs

    Storied spawning runs of European eels may not be an en masse push to a mating site. Roundabout routes may delay many eels so much that they miss the big event and have to wait to mate until next season.

    The most extensive reconstructions of individual eel journeys challenge an assumption that Europe’s freshwater eels (Anguilla anguilla) migrate and spawn as a group, says behavioral...

    10/05/2016 - 14:08 Animals, Conservation
  • 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
  • News

    Some Crohn’s genes make cells deaf to messages from good gut bacteria

    Good gut bacteria might not help people with Crohn’s disease.

    Protective microbial messages go unread in mice and in human immune cells with certain defective genes, researchers report online May 5 in Science.

    The findings are the first to tie together the roles of genes and beneficial microbes in the inflammatory bowel disease, says biologist Brett Finlay of the University of...

    05/05/2016 - 14:07 Immune Science, Microbiology, Genetics
  • Feature

    Weather forecasting is getting a high-speed makeover

    In late January, a massive snowstorm drifted toward New York City. Meteorologists warned that a historic blizzard could soon cripple the Big Apple, potentially burying the city under 60 centimeters of snow overnight. Governor Andrew Cuomo took drastic action, declaring a state of emergency for several counties and shutting down the city that never sleeps. For the first time in its 110-year...

    04/17/2015 - 13:35 Climate
  • Feature

    Sam Ting tries to expose dark matter's mysteries

    In the near vacuum of outer space, each rare morsel of matter tells a story. A speedy proton may have been propelled by the shock wave of an exploding star. A stray electron may have teetered on the precipice of a black hole, only to be flung away in a powerful jet of searing gas.

    Since 2011, the International Space Station has housed an experiment that aims to decipher those origin...

    03/06/2015 - 12:27 Particle Physics, Cosmology
  • Feature

    3-D scans reveal secrets of extinct creatures

    View the video or View the slideshow

    All Rachel Racicot wanted to do was look at a fossil. As a paleontology graduate student at San Diego State University, Racicot had scheduled some time with a local hospital’s CT scanner. She was going to examine a 3-million-year-old porpoise jaw.

    But when the day came to slide the fossil into the scanner, the hospital put her on hold. A...

    09/19/2014 - 14:30 Paleontology
  • News

    World’s largest ocean dead zone may shrink as Earth warms

    Waning winds could give the world’s largest oxygen-starved ocean region a breath of fresh air as the planet warms, researchers report in the Aug. 8 Science. Scientists previously thought the North Pacific dead zone would grow, not shrink, under climate change.

    Dead zones naturally form at depths of about 200 to 1,000 meters, where sinking organic matter from the surface nourishes oxygen-...

    08/11/2014 - 08:00 Oceans, Climate
  • Feature

    Written in bone

    Carles Lalueza-Fox nearly missed an opportunity to paint the genetic portrait of a 7,000-year-old Spaniard.

    In 2006, spelunkers stumbled across the ancient remains of two men in a cave in Spain’s Cantabrian mountain range. Lalueza-Fox, an evolutionary geneticist at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona, got a call inviting him to examine the skeletons’ DNA.

    “I told...

    05/02/2014 - 14:30 Archaeology, Ancestry, Anthropology
  • Feature

    Life under ice

    Even by Antarctic standards, the Lake Vostok research station is inhospitable. The outpost at the heart of the frozen continent holds the record for the lowest naturally occurring temperature ever observed on Earth. Scientists commonly describe the place as punishing, unforgiving, the most desolate place on the planet.

    That’s nothing. Nearly 4,000 meters below the...

    08/23/2013 - 12:00 Earth