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  • Feature

    What consumer DNA data can and can’t tell you about your risk for certain diseases

    Results from Family Tree DNA, a genetic testing company, helped Lara Diamond find a branch of her family she thought had been lost in the Holocaust. Those 2012 results brought dozens of new people into her life.

    Eager to find more relatives, Diamond, now 42, a professional genealogist in Baltimore, decided to try out all the companies that offer geneaological DNA testing to see what else...

    06/03/2018 - 06:00 Genetics
  • Feature

    Future smart clothes could pack serious gadgetry

    In the future, leaving your phone charger at home will mean only one thing: You forgot to put on pants.

    Just as smartphones untethered users from their desktop computers, smart clothing is poised to bring personal electronics out of our pockets and onto our sleeves.

    The current generation of wearable technology that includes smart glasses and watches is still more marginal than...

    06/01/2018 - 10:57 Technology, Materials
  • News

    Never-before-seen dunes on Pluto spotted in New Horizons images

    Pluto’s heart-shaped plains are striped with sand dunes, where the sand is made of solid methane ice, a new study finds.

    Images from the New Horizons spacecraft’s July 2015 flyby of Pluto show 357 linear ridges that planetary scientist Matt Telfer of the University of Plymouth in England and colleagues interpret as dunes that have been shaped by a novel process, the team reports in the...

    05/31/2018 - 14:01 Planetary Science
  • Growth Curve

    Finally, a plan on how to include pregnant women in clinical trials

    Among the stark changes for a woman during pregnancy is what she sees when she opens the medicine cabinet. The medications she wouldn’t have given a second thought to months earlier may now prompt worry and doubt. With any drug on the shelf, she may wonder: Is this medicine safe? Do I need to adjust the dose? Avoid it altogether? An expectant mom with just a cold or a headache will find drug...

    05/30/2018 - 07:00 Pregnancy, Health, Clinical Trials
  • Experiences

    What genetic tests from 23andMe, Veritas and Genos really told me about my health

    Direct-to-consumer genetic testing first came on the market about a decade ago, but I resisted the temptation to see what health information is hidden in my DNA — until now.

    As a molecular biology writer, I’ve been skeptical that the field of genetics is mature enough to accurately predict health (see related article). What finally motivated me to send away my DNA in the mail was the...

    05/22/2018 - 12:00 Genetics, Health
  • Feature

    Consumer DNA testing promises more than it delivers

    In Nevada, 40,000 people are stepping up to the cutting edge of precision medicine. They are getting their DNA deciphered by the testing company Helix. The idea of the Healthy Nevada project is to link genetic and medical data with information about the environment to get a clearer picture of all the factors that influence health. The free tests are going like hot cakes.

    When the Healthy...

    05/22/2018 - 12:00 Genetics, Science & Society
  • News

    A caterpillar outwits corn defenses by gorging on fattening ‘junk’ food

    Here’s the story of a caterpillar that foils gruesome violence orchestrated by corn.

    No, that’s not backward. Plants often look helpless to a human, but they fight with smells and other invisible chemistry. A growing body of evidence, for example, shows that plants under attack can waft out scents that attract help, such as tiny wasps that deal a lingering death to leaf-chewing...

    05/22/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Plants, Ecology
  • News in Brief

    Maverick asteroid might be an immigrant from outside the solar system

    An asteroid that flouts the norms of the solar system might not be from around here.

    The renegade asteroid travels around the sun in reverse — in the opposite direction of the planets and most other asteroids (SN: 5/13/17, p. 5). Now two scientists suggest that’s because the space rock originated from outside the solar system, according to a paper published May 21 in Monthly Notices of...

    05/21/2018 - 08:00 Astronomy
  • Feature

    Meet the speedsters of the plant world

    Somewhere in the wetlands of South Carolina, a buzzing fly alights on a rosy-pink surface. As the fly explores the strange scenery, it unknowingly brushes a small hair sticking up like a slender sword. Strolling along, the fly accidentally grazes another hair. Suddenly, the pink surface closes in from both sides, snapping shut like a pair of ravenous jaws. The blur of movement lasts only a...

    05/16/2018 - 12:11 Plants, Biophysics, Physics
  • News

    NASA gets ready to launch the first lander to investigate Mars’ insides

    Mars is about to get its first internal checkup. The InSight lander, set to launch at 7:05 a.m. EDT on May 5 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, will probe the Red Planet’s innards by tracking seismic waves and taking its temperature.

    Finding out what Mars’ interior is like could help scientists learn how the Red Planet formed 4.5 billion years ago, and how other rocky planets...

    05/03/2018 - 07:00 Planetary Science