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  • 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

    For robots, artificial intelligence gets physical

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    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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

    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

    Is redoing scientific research the best way to find truth?

    R. Allan Mufson remembers the alarming letters from physicians. They were testing a drug intended to help cancer patients by boosting levels of oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in their blood.

    In animal studies and early clinical trials, the drug known as Epo (for erythropoietin) appeared to counteract anemia caused by radiation and chemotherapy. It had the potential to spare patients from the...

    01/13/2015 - 13:23 Science & Society
  • Feature

    Studying a volcano in a war zone

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    On clear nights a red glow radiates from the top of Mount Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On the mountain’s summit the source of the light thrashes and boils: the largest and most active lava lake in the world.

    Among volcanoes, Nyiragongo stands out. The magma that fuels its violent eruptions is incredibly fluid, capable of racing down the...

    12/02/2014 - 15:52 Earth
  • Feature

    How species will, or won’t, manage in a warming world

    High in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, mustard plants slumber through the winter in snow-covered meadows. When spring finally reveals these hardy perennials, the plants reach for the sky, unveiling tiny pink or white flowers.

    This annual rebirth is timed to the snowmelt, and as warmer temperatures have moved melting earlier and earlier in the year, this particular mustard, known as...

    07/11/2014 - 14:00 Climate, Ecology