At the medieval city of Angkor, flooding after decades of scant rainfall triggered a devastating breakdown of the largest water system in the preindustrial world, new evidence suggests.
Intense monsoon rains bracketed by decades of drought in the 1400s set off a chain reaction of failures in Angkor’s interconnected water network, computer simulations indicate. The climate-induced...
News in Brief
Excavations in an ancient Roman cemetery turned poignantly eerie last summer.
In one grave lay a roughly 10-year-old child, possibly the victim of malaria, with a stone inserted in his or her mouth. That practice was part of a funeral ritual intended to prevent the youngster from rising zombielike and spreading disease to the living, researchers say. Such "vampire burials" indicate signs...
Reviews & Previews
Nine PintsRose GeorgeMetropolitan Books, $30
The title of journalist Rose George’s new book, Nine Pints, quantifies how much blood George has flowing through her body. Her supply takes a temporary dip in the book’s opening chapter, when she donates about a pint (a story that continues on to recap the amazing accomplishment that is blood banking). This act of generosity is an...
Science & the Public
For sale: Pristine lake. Price negotiable.
Most U.S. government attempts to quantify the costs and benefits of protecting the country’s bodies of water are likely undervaluing healthy lakes and rivers, researchers argue in a new study. That’s because some clean water benefits get left out of the analyses, sometimes because these benefits are difficult to pin numbers on. As a result, the...
Protecting the anonymity of publicly available genetic data, including DNA donated to research projects, may be impossible.
About 60 percent of people of European descent who search genetic genealogy databases will find a match with a relative who is a third cousin or closer, a new study finds. The result suggests that with a database of about 3 million people, police or anyone else with...
First Man is not a movie about the moon landing.
The Neil Armstrong biopic, opening October 12, follows about eight years of the life of the first man on the moon, and spends about eight minutes depicting the lunar surface. Instead of the triumphant ticker tape parades that characterize many movies about the space race, First Man focuses on the terror, grief and heartache that led to...
550-year-old seed sprouts —
A seed of the South America herb achira (Canna sp.), taken from an ancient Indian necklace, has germinated, and the young plant is growing well.… Carbon-14 dating of bones at the site sets the seeds’ age at about 550 years.… The plant from the old seed appeared to have a disturbed gravity orientation, but is still growing fairly normally. — Science News...
Reviews & Previews
The Sawbones BookJustin McElroy and Dr. Sydnee McElroyTeylor Smirl (illustrator)Weldon Owen, $24.99
Humans took a long, weird road to modern medicine. We don’t have everything figured out yet, but at least we’ve learned not to drink the feces of cholera victims and never to plug dental cavities with a lizard’s liver — unlike some of our ancestors.
Gruesome methods like these...
News in Brief
Two U.S. economists, William Nordhaus and Paul Romer, have received the 2018 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for their efforts to untangle the economics of climate change and technological innovations.
Nordhaus and Romer “significantly broadened the scope of economic analysis by constructing models that explain how the market economy interacts with nature and knowledge,” the...
Leon Lederman, a Nobel Prize–winning particle physicist who lifted back the curtain to the subatomic world, died on October 3 at the age of 96.
His work revealed the existence of multiple new elementary particles — with names like the muon neutrino and the bottom quark — showing that the realm of the infinitesimal was more complex than previously thought. The muon neutrino discovery...