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  • News in Brief

    Here’s a rare way that an Alzheimer’s protein can spread

    An Alzheimer’s protein found in contaminated vials of human growth hormone can spread in the brains of mice. That finding, published online December 13 in Nature, adds heft to the idea that, in very rare cases, amyloid-beta can travel from one person’s brain to another’s.

    Decades ago, over a thousand young people in the United Kingdom received injections of growth hormone derived from...

    12/13/2018 - 11:00 Neuroscience
  • 50 years ago, armadillos hinted that DNA wasn’t destiny

    64 armadillos threaten a theory —

    Armadillos come in fours, quadruplet offspring from a single egg, and are endowed with identical genes. Yet, the quadruplets are often not identical, a fact that calls into question the assumption that genes encased in the nucleus of the cell are the sole determinants of heredity. — Science News, November 30, 1968

    Update

    What comes naturally to...

    12/13/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Genetics
  • News in Brief

    The Parker Solar Probe takes its first up-close look at the sun

    NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has met the sun and lived to tell the tale.

    The sun-grazing spacecraft has already broken the records for the fastest space probe and the nearest brush any spacecraft has made with the sun. Now the probe is sending data back from its close solar encounter, scientists reported December 12 at the American Geophysical Union meeting in Washington, D.C.

    “What...

    12/12/2018 - 17:49 Astronomy
  • News

    Hybrid rice engineered with CRISPR can clone its seeds

    After more than 20 years of theorizing about it, scientists have tweaked a hybrid variety of rice so that some of the plants produce cloned seeds. No plant sex necessary. The feat, described December 12 in Nature, is encouraging for efforts to feed an increasingly crowded world.

    Crossing two good varieties of grain can make one fabulous one, combining the best versions of genes to give...

    12/12/2018 - 15:52 Plants, Genetics, Sustainability
  • News

    Babies born in opioid withdrawal have unusually small heads

    Babies born dependent on opioids have smaller heads than babies not exposed to the drugs in the womb.

    The finding, published online December 10 in Pediatrics, raises concerns that the drugs are impairing brain growth during development. And it highlights questions about the safest approach to managing opioid addiction during pregnancy, researchers say.

    Pregnant women who use...

    12/12/2018 - 15:25 Health
  • Growth Curve

    Many babies are crummy sleepers, confirming what millions of parents already know

    I love to hate the phrase “sleep like a baby.” It’s a beautiful example of a saying that’s based on the exact opposite of what it’s intended to convey. Babies (many of them, anyway) are rotten sleepers.

    During my last pregnancy, I wondered if I might luck out with a good sleeper. Or at least an average sleeper. But my third little sweetie didn’t deliver. At nearly 8 months, he (and I)...

    12/12/2018 - 08:00 Child Development, Parenting
  • News

    ‘Little Foot’ skeleton analysis reignites debate over the hominid’s species

    A nearly complete hominid skeleton known as Little Foot has finally been largely freed from the stony shell in which it was discovered in a South African cave more than 20 years ago. And in the first formal analyses of the fossils, researchers say the 3.67-million-year-old Little Foot belonged to its own species.

    In four papers posted online at bioRxiv.org between November 29 and...

    12/12/2018 - 06:00 Human Evolution, Anthropology
  • Rethink

    Nearly 200 Great Barrier Reef coral species also live in the deep sea

    Nearly 200 species of Great Barrier Reef corals have found a second home in the deep ocean. That’s six times as many species as previously thought to be living in the dark, cold waters off northeastern Australia, researchers report December 11 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

    Perhaps more important than the number of species cataloged at those depths is the fact that every coral...

    12/11/2018 - 19:05 Animals, Oceans, Climate
  • News

    Here’s what was surprising about Kilauea’s 3-month-long eruption

    WASHINGTON — After a stunningly explosive summer, Kilauea, the world’s longest continuously erupting volcano, finally seems to have taken a break. But the scientists studying it haven’t. Reams of new data collected during an unprecedented opportunity to monitor an ongoing, accessible eruption are changing what’s known about how some volcanoes behave.

    “It was hugely significant,” says...

    12/11/2018 - 18:39 Earth
  • News in Brief

    Biologists are one step closer to creating snake venom in the lab

    SAN DIEGO — Labs growing replicas of snakes’ venom glands may one day replace snake farms.

    Researchers in the Netherlands have succeeded in growing mimics of venom-producing glands from multiple species of snakes. Stem cell biologist Hans Clevers of the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht, the Netherlands, reported the creation of these organoids on December 10 at a joint meeting of the...

    12/11/2018 - 14:08 Cells