Commercials abound for DNA testing services that will help you learn where your ancestors came from or connect you with relatives. I’ve been interested in my family history for a long time. I knew basically where our roots were: the British Isles, Germany and Hungary. But the ads tempted me to dive deeper.
Previous experience taught me that different genetic testing companies can yield...
Michael Douglas, a new resident of southern Maryland, credits genetic testing for helping him find his heritage — and a family he knew very little about.
Douglas, 43, is adopted. He knew his birth mother’s name and had seen a birth certificate stating his birth name: Thomas Michael McCarthy. Over the years, Douglas had tried off and on to find his birth family, mostly by looking for his...
Emmy Noether may be the most influential mathematician you’ve never heard of.06/12/2018 - 07:15 History of Science, Science & Society, Physics
In 1918, she solved a puzzle in Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. To do that, she created a mathematical theorem that changed forever how scientists study the universe, one that remains a guiding star for theoretical physics.
Not only was she a scientific pioneer, Noether was by all...
Letters to the Editor
Cutting remark06/12/2018 - 07:00 Astronomy, Archaeology, Technology
Archaeologist Nicholas Blackwell built a version of a Bronze Age pendulum saw that may have been used to build Mycenaean palaces, Bruce Bower reported in “How a backyard pendulum saw sliced into a Bronze Age mystery” (SN: 4/28/18 & 5/12/18, p. 32).
Reader Fredric Blum argued that a pendulum saw’s blade would have dulled too fast to completely cut through stone...
The story of how some of the massive stone statues on Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island, ended up wearing stone hats involves ramps, ropes and remarkably few workers, a contested new analysis suggests.
No more than 15 people were needed to manipulate ropes that rolled stone cylinders, or pukao, up ramps to the top of forward-leaning statues, say archaeologist Sean Hixon of Penn State...
Police are using a new type of DNA sleuthing, called genetic genealogy. Already the technique has caught murder and rape suspects in California and Washington. While solving the cases has given cause for celebration, the tactics used in catching the alleged culprits have many privacy and civil rights experts worried.
Closing the Golden State Killer case (SN Online: 4/29/18) and the...
Apollo milestone at last
The spacecraft fire that killed three Apollo astronauts and rocked the space agency a year and a half ago is still being felt.… Last week, after a series of delays … a major milestone was finally reached: the first manned tests of an Apollo spacecraft to include all the new equipment and safeguards incorporated since the fire. — Science News, June 8, 1968....
Science & the Public
For a few hundred dollars and a spit sample, you too could take a journey of genetic self-discovery. You may learn some things, but what are you giving away?
Today, hundreds of companies offer to analyze your DNA, or parts of it, to let you in on everything from your health risks and ancestry to more dubious traits like intelligence or athletic ability (SN: 5/26/18, p. 20). The direct-to...
An account of another alleged “sonic attack” has surfaced, this time from a U.S. government employee in China. The employee reported “subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure,” according to a U.S. Embassy health alert. The episode mirrors reports from American diplomats in Cuba in late 2016, and fuels the debate among scientists about what, if anything, is actually...
News in Brief
Ancient colonizers of the Americas could have traveled down Alaska’s Pacific coast in canoes or other sea vessels around 17,000 years ago, a new study finds.
At that time, toward the end of the last ice age, glaciers had just receded from a cluster of southern Alaskan islands, say geologist Alia Lesnek of the University at Buffalo in New York and colleagues. Life-supporting habitats...