The dwindling dusky
In the marshes around America’s spaceport, Kennedy Space Center, live the last few specimens of a bird that may be closer to extinction than even the much-mourned whooping crane. While the whooper might make a gradual comeback if protected and left alone, the dusky seaside sparrow is as good as dead unless man steps in to lend an active hand. — Science News, May...
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...
The Science Life
What do land mines and tuberculosis have in common? Both kill people in developing countries — and both can be sniffed out by rodents that grow up to 3 feet, head to tail.
Since 2000, the international nonprofit APOPO has partnered with Tanzania’s Sokoine University of Agriculture to train African giant pouched rats (Cricetomys ansorgei) to pick up the scent of TNT in land mines. By 2016...
With a mortar and pestle, Christy Till blends together the makings of a distant planet. In her geology lab at Arizona State University in Tempe, Till carefully measures out powdered minerals, tips them into a metal capsule and bakes them in a high-pressure furnace that can reach close to 35,000 times Earth’s atmospheric pressure and 2,000° Celsius.
In this interplanetary test kitchen,...
Starve the tumor, not the cell
Animal experiments demonstrate for the first time that transplanted tumors release a chemical into the host’s bloodstream that causes the host to produce blood vessels to supply the tumor.… If such a factor can be identified in human cancers … it might be possible to prevent the vascularization of tumors. Since tumors above a certain small size require...
Pick an animal.
Choose wisely because in this fantasy you’ll transform into the creature and duel against one of your own. If you care about survival, go for the muscular, multispiked stag roaring at a rival. Never, ever pick the wingless male fig wasp. Way too dangerous.
This advice sounds exactly wrong. But that’s because many stereotypes of animal conflict get the real biology...
Subscribers to Science News may note that this special double issue is a lot heftier than the usual magazine, boasting more than 20 pages of advertisements. That’s up from 13 pages in last spring’s expanded issue.05/02/2018 - 07:15 Science & Society
Indeed, our ace marketing department sold so many ads that we had to include more articles, which, as anyone in print publishing will tell you, is a very nice problem to...
Letters to the Editor
Particle particulars05/02/2018 - 07:00 Particle Physics, Genetics
Physicists are ramping up their search for neutrinoless double beta decay, which could help explain why there is more matter in the universe than antimatter, Emily Conover reported in “The quest to identify the nature of the neutrino’s alter ego is heating up” (SN: 3/17/18, p. 14).
Reader F L Stiles wondered how this decay could explain a surplus of matter. “It...
Nicholas Blackwell and his father went to a hardware store about three years ago seeking parts for a mystery device from the past. They carefully selected wood and other materials to assemble a stonecutting pendulum that, if Blackwell is right, resembles contraptions once used to build majestic Bronze Age palaces.
With no ancient drawings or blueprints of the tool for guidance, the two...
In the pitch-black waters beneath the Arctic ice, bowhead whales get funky. A small population of endangered bowheads belt an unusually varied repertoire of songs, which grows more diverse during mating season.
Hunted to near extinction in the 1600s, these fire truck–sized mammals now number in the 300s in the frigid waters around the Svalbard archipelago in Norway. Underwater audio...