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  • Reviews & Previews

    Here are our favorite science books of 2017

    Have you fallen behind on your reading this year? Or maybe you’ve plowed through your must-reads and are ready for more. Science News has got you covered. Here are the staff’s picks for some of the best science books of 2017. Find detailed reviews from previous issues in the links below or in our Editors pick: Favorite books of 2017.

    Against the GrainJames C. Scott

    Armed with the...

    12/17/2017 - 07:00 Science & Society
  • News

    U.S. religion is increasingly polarized

    There’s both inspiring and troubling news for holiday worshippers.

    Unlike other historically Christian Western nations, the United States is not losing its religion, say sociologists Landon Schnabel of Indiana University Bloomington and Sean Bock of Harvard University. But America is becoming as polarized religiously as it is politically, the researchers report online November 27 in...

    12/14/2017 - 11:51 Science & Society
  • Letters to the Editor

    These are the most-read Science News stories of 2017

    The Science News website attracted millions of visitors in 2017. The lists below name the most-read online stories outside of our Top 10 stories of the year, plus the most popular stories for each of our blogs.

    Top stories

    1. The blue wings of this dragonfly may be surprisingly aliveTiny tubes between veins in the shimmery blue wings of morpho dragonflies (shown above) may be respiratory...

    12/13/2017 - 12:00 Science & Society, Astronomy, Animals
  • Editor's Note

    2017 delivered humility, and proved our potential

    The Top 10 science stories of 2017, selected by Science News staff and presented in this year-end issue, have the potential to make you feel small and certainly humble. Our No. 1 story of the year takes place an unfathomably distant 130 million light-years away, where a neutron star smashup produced, by some estimates, 10 Earth masses worth of gold — wow! That’s enough for many trillions of...

    12/13/2017 - 08:46 Science & Society, Astronomy, Genetics
  • Year in Review

    Colliding neutron stars, gene editing, human origins and more top stories of 2017

    In science, progress rarely comes in one big shebang. Well, it has now, two years running. The first-ever direct detection of gravitational waves, our top story in 2016, launched a long-dreamed-of kind of astronomy capable of “unlocking otherwise unknowable secrets of the cosmos,” as physics writer Emily Conover puts it. 2017’s key event: a never-before-seen neutron star collision that...

    12/13/2017 - 08:32 Science & Society
  • Year in Review

    CRISPR gene editing moved into new territory in 2017

    Scientists reported selectively altering genes in viable human embryos for the first time this year. For nearly five years, researchers have been wielding the molecular scissors known as CRISPR/Cas9 to make precise changes in animals’ DNA. But its use in human embryos has more profound implications, researchers and ethicists say.

    “We can now literally change our own species,” says...

    12/13/2017 - 08:30 Genetics, Science & Society
  • Year in Review

    Brains of former football players showed how common traumatic brain injuries might be

    There have been hints for years that playing football might come at a cost. But a study this year dealt one of the hardest hits yet to the sport, detailing the extensive damage in football players’ brains, and not just those who played professionally.       

    In a large collection of former NFL players’ postmortem brains, nearly every sample showed signs of chronic traumatic...

    12/13/2017 - 08:26 Neuroscience, Health, Science & Society
  • Editor's Note

    Would you opt to see the future or decipher the past?

    Wouldn’t it be brilliant if every scientist had a crystal ball? It’s a question that came to me while reading Alexandra Witze’s story “What the Pliocene epoch can teach us about future warming on Earth.” Witze discusses how scientists are studying a warming period some 3 million years ago to try to understand how Earth will handle rising temperatures. The geologic epoch, known as the Pliocene...

    11/29/2017 - 15:45 Science & Society, Climate
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers debate ethics of resurrecting extinct species

    Culture club

    The book Rise of the Necrofauna tackles the challenges of using gene-editing tools to bring woolly mammoths and other long-gone species back from the dead. These “de-extincted” creatures would have to contend with a radically changed world that includes new habitats and diseases, Tina Hesman Saey wrote in her review “Resurrecting extinct species raises ethical questions” (SN: 10/28...

    11/29/2017 - 15:36 Evolution, Science & Society
  • Science & the Public

    Parents may one day be morally obligated to edit their baby’s genes

    A doctor explains to a young couple that he has screened the pair’s in vitro fertilized embryos and selected those that had no major inheritable diseases. The couple had specified they want a son with hazel eyes, dark hair and fair skin. Then the doctor announces that he has also taken the liberty of eliminating the “burden” of genetic propensities for baldness, nearsightedness, alcoholism,...

    11/28/2017 - 07:00 Science & Society, Genetics