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  • News

    Capuchin monkeys’ stone-tool use has evolved over 3,000 years

    Excavations in Brazil have pounded out new insights into the handiness of ancient monkeys.

    South American capuchin monkeys have not only hammered and dug with carefully chosen stones for the last 3,000 years, but also have selected pounding tools of varying sizes and weights along the way.

    Capuchin stone implements recovered at a site in northeastern Brazil display signs of shifts...

    06/24/2019 - 11:00 Archaeology, Animals
  • News

    Lost wallets are more likely to be returned if they hold cash

    If you’re prone to losing your wallet, keep it filled with cash.

    That’s a tip from researchers who “lost” over 17,000 wallets in 40 countries. In all but two countries, the likelihood of a stranger returning a wallet increased if there was money inside. And the more money in the wallet, the higher the rate of return, the researchers report June 20 in Science. 

    “We were expecting a...

    06/20/2019 - 15:45 Science & Society, Human Evolution
  • Editor's Note

    Science hasn’t managed to span the diagnosis gap

    Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy had no problem finding out what ailed his patients. He simply waved a handheld scanner over them, and the tricorder spat out a diagnosis — even if the patient was a Romulan.

    Earthbound diagnostics haven’t yet measured up to the extragalactic version, alas. Go to the doctor, and it’s likely to take a variety of tests to come up with a diagnosis. And even then,...

    06/17/2019 - 07:00 Science & Society, Biomedicine, Immune Science
  • News

    People may have smoked marijuana in rituals 2,500 years ago in western China

    Mourners gathered at a cemetery in what’s now western China around 2,500 years ago to inhale fumes of burning cannabis plants that wafted from small wooden containers. High levels of the psychoactive compound THC in those ignited plants, also known as marijuana, would have induced altered states of consciousness. 

    Evidence of this practice comes from Jirzankal Cemetery in Central Asia’s...

    06/12/2019 - 14:01 Archaeology, Plants
  • News

    These knotted cords may hide the first evidence that the Incas collected taxes

    While excavating an Inca outpost on Peru’s southern coast, archaeologist Alejandro Chu and his colleagues uncovered some twisted surprises.

    In 2013, the scientists were digging in one of four rooms lining the entrance to what had been a massive storage structure, and they started finding sets of colored and knotted strings poking through the ground. Known as khipus, these odd Inca...

    06/11/2019 - 07:00 Archaeology
  • News

    Genealogy companies could struggle to keep clients’ data from police

    After police used DNA sleuthing techniques to arrest a teenage suspect in Utah accused of assault, a public genealogy website shut off most police access in May, following public outcry. That move by GEDMatch to protect the privacy of its users could backfire, some experts warn, creating more privacy issues, not fewer. 

    Forensic genetic genealogy — the use of genetic databases by police...

    06/10/2019 - 12:00 Genetics, Science & Society
  • News in Brief

    The U.S. is still using many pesticides that are banned in other countries

    Compared with other global agricultural powerhouses, the United States has lax restrictions on potentially harmful pesticides, a study suggests.

    An analysis of agricultural pesticide regulations reveals that the United States widely uses several chemicals that are banned or being phased out in the European Union, Brazil and China — three of the world’s other leading pesticide users.

    ...
    06/10/2019 - 08:00 Agriculture, Science & Society
  • News in Brief

    DNA reveals ancient Siberians who set the stage for the first Americans

    Northeastern Siberia hosted migrations of three consecutive ancient populations that created a genetic framework for Siberians and Native Americans today, scientists say.

    While each incoming population largely replaced people already living there, mating between newcomers and old-timers also occurred, conclude evolutionary geneticist Martin Sikora of the University of Copenhagen and...

    06/07/2019 - 12:00 Genetics, Human Evolution, Ancestry
  • 50 years ago, scientists wanted to build solar panels on the moon

    Solar power from moon to Earth —

    An almost unlimited supply of electricity could be generated on the moon’s surface by huge arrays of solar cells and beamed to Earth by laser. Sunlight falling on a crater … could produce from 10,000 to 100,000 megawatts of power. By comparison, a large hydroelectric dam on Earth produces about 100 megawatts. Solar cells would be more efficient on...

    06/07/2019 - 08:00 Astronomy, Technology, History of Science
  • Exhibit

    The Smithsonian’s ‘Deep Time’ exhibit gives dinosaurs new life

    After five years, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., is finally reopening its dinosaur hall on June 8. Visitors may come for fan favorites like Tyrannosaurus rex and Stegosaurus — and these fossils are gorgeously presented. But the new, permanent exhibition, the “David H. Koch Hall of Fossils — Deep Time,” has a much grander story to tell about the history...

    06/04/2019 - 12:17 Science & Society, Paleontology, Climate