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  • News

    Ants practice combat triage and nurse their injured

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    No wounded left behind — not quite. Ants that have evolved battlefield medevac carry only the moderately wounded home to the nest. There, those lucky injured fighters get fast and effective wound care.

    Insect colonies seething with workers may seem unlikely to stage elaborate rescues of individual fighters. Yet for Matabele ants (Megaponera analis) in sub-Saharan...

    02/16/2018 - 14:14 Animals, Evolution, Ecology
  • News

    What will it take to go to Venus?

    There’s a planet just next door that could explain the origins of life in the universe. It was probably once covered in oceans (SN Online: 8/1/17). It may have been habitable for billions of years (SN Online: 8/26/16). Astronomers are desperate to land spacecraft there.

    No, not Mars. That tantalizing planet is Venus. But despite all its appeal, Venus is one of the hardest places in the...

    02/13/2018 - 07:00 Planetary Science, Exoplanets
  • News

    The wiring for walking developed long before fish left the sea

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    These fins were made for walking, and that’s just what these fish do — thanks to wiring that evolved long before vertebrates set foot on land.

    Little skates use two footlike fins on their undersides to move along the ocean floor. With an alternating left-right stride powered by muscles flexing and extending, the movement of these fish looks a lot like that of many...

    02/08/2018 - 17:40 Neuroscience, Evolution
  • Context

    Top 10 papers from Physical Review’s first 125 years

    No anniversary list is ever complete. Just last month, for instance, my Top 10 scientific anniversaries of 2018 omitted the publication two centuries ago of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It should have at least received honorable mention.

    Perhaps more egregious, though, was overlooking the 125th anniversary of the physics journal Physical Review. Since 1893, the Physical Review has...

    02/08/2018 - 11:00 History of Science
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers ask about supernovas, dark energy and more

    Dying light

    Supernova iPTF14hls has erupted continually since its discovery in 2014, fluctuating in brightness at least five times. It may have had two other outbursts in the past, Lisa Grossman reported in “This star cheated death, exploding again and again” (SN: 12/9/17, p. 8).

    Reddit user Bobgushmore wondered if the exploding star might actually be a supernova impostor similar to...

    02/07/2018 - 15:30 Astronomy, Physics, Science & Society
  • News

    Scientists are tracking how the flu moves through a college campus

    COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Campus life typically challenges students with new opportunities for learning, discovery — and intimacy with germs. Lots of germs.

    That makes dormitories and their residents an ideal natural experiment to trace the germs’ paths. “You pack a bunch of college kids into a very small environment … we’re not known as being the cleanliest of people,” says sophomore Parker...

    02/07/2018 - 07:00 Biomedicine, Health
  • Scicurious

    Wikipedia has become a science reference source even though scientists don’t cite it

    Wikipedia: The settler of dinnertime disputes and the savior of those who cheat on trivia night. Quick, what country has the Nile’s headwaters? What year did Gershwin write “Rhapsody in Blue”? Wikipedia has the answer to all your burning trivia questions — including ones about science.

    With hundreds of thousands of scientific entries, Wikipedia offers a quick reference for the molecular...

    02/05/2018 - 07:00 Science & Society
  • News

    Slower speed, tricky turns give prey a chance against cheetahs and lions

    First, a note to any impala suddenly rushed by a cheetah: Do not — repeat, do not — just zoom straight off as fast as four hooves can carry you.

    The best escape move, according to analysis of the most detailed chase data yet from big cat predators, is some fluky turn, even though turning requires a slower stride. Swerve far enough, and the cheetah will be racing too fast to make the same...

    01/29/2018 - 10:00 Animals, Biophysics, Evolution
  • News

    Clumps of dark matter could be lurking undetected in our galaxy

    Clumps of dark matter may be sailing through the Milky Way and other galaxies.

    Typically thought to form featureless blobs surrounding entire galaxies, dark matter could also collapse into smaller clumps — similar to normal matter condensing into stars and planets — a new study proposes. Thousands of collapsed dark clumps could constitute 10 percent of the Milky Way’s dark matter,...

    01/26/2018 - 09:00 Particle Physics, Cosmology
  • 50 years ago, IUDs were deemed safe and effective

    IUDs: approval of a renaissance

    In 1929, the German scientist Ernst Grafenberg inserted silver rings into the uteri of 2,000 women, and reported a pregnancy rate of only 1.6 percent. Despite this history, the use of intrauterine devices, or IUDs, was not generally accepted.… A report made public last week by the FDA’s Advisory Committee on Obstetrics and Gynecology concludes that...

    01/19/2018 - 07:00 Health