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  • News

    Corn domestication took some unexpected twists and turns

    Corn eaten around the world today originated via a surprisingly long and complex process that started in what’s now southern Mexico around 9,000 years ago, a new study finds.

    People brought a forerunner of present-day corn plants, also known as maize, to South America from Mexico more than 6,500 years ago. Those plants still contained many genes from maize’s wild ancestor, teosinte, say...

    12/13/2018 - 14:00 Archaeology, Plants
  • 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
  • Reviews & Previews

    These are our favorite science books of 2018

    From tales about whales to enthralling scientific histories and the memoir of a frustrated astrophysicist, 2018 was a banner year for science books. Here are Science News’ picks for the titles that should be on any science lover’s bookshelf. Find detailed reviews of many of these books in the links below and in our Editor’s Pick: Favorite books of 2018.

    The Truth About AnimalsLucy...

    12/09/2018 - 09:00 Science & Society
  • Reviews & Previews

    Two new books explore the science and history of the 1918 flu pandemic

    The U.S.S. Leviathan set sail from Hoboken, N.J., on September 29, 1918, carrying roughly 10,000 troops and 2,000 crewmen. The ship, bound for the battlefields in France, had been at sea less than 24 hours when the first passengers fell ill. By the end of the day, 700 people had developed signs of the flu.

    The medical staff tried to separate the sick from the healthy, but that soon...

    12/07/2018 - 07:00 Health, History of Science, Microbiology
  • News in Brief

    Global carbon dioxide emissions will hit a record high in 2018

    Global carbon dioxide emissions are expected to hit a record high in 2018, despite urgent calls from climate scientists and international groups such as the United Nations to cut back.

    Worldwide, fossil fuel use is projected to pump 2.7 percent more CO2 into the atmosphere in 2018 compared with 2017. Last year, such emissions contributed 9.9 gigatons of carbon. The data are presented in...

    12/06/2018 - 18:09 Climate, Sustainability, Science & Society
  • News

    A 5,000-year-old mass grave harbors the oldest plague bacteria ever found

    A long-dead Scandinavian woman has yielded bacterial DNA showing that she contracted the earliest known case of the plague in humans.

    DNA extracted from the woman’s teeth comes from a newly identified ancient strain of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague, the oldest ever found. The woman’s bones, which date from 5,040 to 4,867 years ago, were found nearly 20 years ago in a...

    12/06/2018 - 11:00 Genetics, Anthropology, Microbiology
  • Editor's Note

    Seeking a panacea in the gut’s microbiome

    It almost feels like people think every known disorder could be cured by tweaking the gut microbiome: The list of possibilities includes obesity, liver disease, diabetes, autism, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, depression and anxiety. The length of that list alone invites skepticism among those of us who cover science. But there’s enough evidence that gut microbes...
    12/05/2018 - 05:15 Science & Society, Health, Neuroscience
  • News in Brief

    Stone Age people conquered the Tibetan Plateau’s thin air

    People settled down high up — really high up — as early as around 40,000 years ago. That’s when humans first inhabited East Asia’s Tibetan Plateau, about 4,600 meters above sea level, scientists say.

    Until now, evidence of humans colonizing this high-altitude region extended no further back than around 8,000 years ago (SN: 2/4/17, p. 8). Some researchers have argued that the first...

    11/30/2018 - 12:58 Archaeology, Human Evolution
  • News

    Stone-tool makers reached North Africa and Arabia surprisingly early

    Ancient stone-tool makers spread into largely unstudied parts of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula surprisingly early, two new studies find. Discoveries in Algeria and Saudi Arabia underscore how toolmaking traditions enabled Stone Age Homo groups to travel long distances and adapt to different environments, researchers say.

    Hominids used simple cutting and chopping implements to...

    11/29/2018 - 14:00 Archaeology, Human Evolution
  • News

    The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends his work but fails to quell controversy

    A Chinese researcher who helped create the world’s first gene-edited babies publicly disclosed details of the work for the first time to an international audience of scientists and ethicists, and revealed that another gene-edited baby is due next year.

    Lulu and Nana, twin girls whose DNA was edited with CRISPR/Cas9 to disable the CCR5 gene involved in HIV infections, may soon be joined...

    11/28/2018 - 15:54 Genetics, Science & Society