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  • It's Alive

    How one enslaving wasp eats through another

    Parasites can drive their hosts to do weird, dumb things. But in certain oak trees, the parasites themselves get played.

    “Creepy and awesome,” says Kelly Weinersmith of Rice University in Houston, who has helped reveal a Russian doll of nested parasitisms.

    The saga begins when two majestic live oak species in the southeastern United States send out new shoots, and female crypt gall...

    03/16/2017 - 12:00 Animals, Ecology, 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

    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

    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
  • Reviews & Previews

    Tales of the bedbug, one of the world’s most reviled insects

    InfestedBrooke BorelUniv. of Chicago Press, $26

    Bedbugs sure get around. From housing projects, hostels and cheap hotels (and some that aren’t so cheap), the bloodthirsty insects hitchhike in the darkest recesses of weary travelers’ luggage and backpacks. They’ve made the rounds in a metaphorical sense too, appearing in poetry, prose, plays and, perhaps unsurprisingly, quite a few blues...

    04/18/2015 - 10:00 Animals, History of Science
  • 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

    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

    Seeing past the jellyfish sting

    View the slideshow

    Robots that hunt down and exterminate jellyfish: Good or bad idea? Discuss.

    A 2013 video from robotics designers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology shows three jelly-killer prototypes gliding as a metallic fleet over gently rippling water. An underwater video demonstrates the cunning plan. Pale jellyfish bells drift into view, and a...

    08/22/2014 - 14:33 Animals, Oceans
  • 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