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  • News

    Power may have passed via women in ancient Chaco Canyon society

    A maternal dynasty ruled one of the earliest and most mysterious civilizations in the Americas, centered in New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon, for more than three centuries, researchers say.

    DNA extracted from the bones of individuals buried inside a massive Chaco stone pueblo or great house, along with new radiocarbon dates for interred bones, indicate that royal status ran through a particular...

    02/21/2017 - 17:15 Anthropology, Genetics
  • News in Brief

    New imaging technique catches DNA ‘blinking’ on

    BOSTON — A new imaging technique takes advantage of DNA’s natural ability to “blink” in response to stimulating light.  The new approach will allow unprecedented views of genetic material and other cellular players. It’s the first method to resolve features smaller than 10 nanometers, biomedical engineer Vadim Backman said February 17 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the...

    02/19/2017 - 10:39 Cells, Chemistry, Biophysics
  • News

    Microbes survived inside giant cave crystals for up to 50,000 years

    BOSTON — Microbes found stowed inside giant crystals in caves in Chihuahua, Mexico, may have survived there for tens of thousands of years. The microorganisms, which appear to be vastly different from nearly all life-forms found on Earth, offer a good indication of how resilient life can be in extremely harsh environments, including those found on other planets.

    “These organisms are so...

    02/18/2017 - 12:55 Microbes, Genetics, Astrobiology
  • News

    Common fungus may raise asthma risk

    BOSTON — A fungus among us may tip the body toward developing asthma.

    There’s mounting evidence that early exposure to microbes can protect against allergies and asthma (SN Online: 7/20/16). But “lo and behold, some fungi seem to put kids at risk for asthma,” microbiologist Brett Finlay said February 17 at a news conference during the annual meeting of the American Association for the...

    02/17/2017 - 17:57 Health, Immune Science, Human Development
  • News

    Human gene editing therapies are OK in certain cases, panel advises

    Human gene editing to prevent genetic diseases from being passed to future generations may be permissible under certain conditions, a panel of experts says.

    Altering DNA in germline cells — embryos, eggs, and sperm, or cells that give rise to them — may be used to cure genetic diseases for future generations, provided it is done only to correct disease or disability, not to enhance...

    02/14/2017 - 16:38 Genetics, Science & Society
  • News in Brief

    Rapid Ebola test to detect early infection in the works

    WASHINGTON — Diagnosing Ebola earlier is becoming almost as easy as taking a home pregnancy test. 

    Scientists are developing antibodies for a test that can sniff out the deadly virus more quickly and efficiently than current tests, researchers reported February 6 at the American Society for Microbiology Biothreats meeting.

    Detecting Ebola’s genetic material in patients’ blood...

    02/10/2017 - 16:46 Immune Science
  • News

    Ricin poisoning may one day be treatable with new antidote

    WASHINGTON — It has been used by an assassin wielding a poisoned umbrella and sent in a suspicious letter to a president.

    Ricin, the potent toxin and bioterrorism agent, has no antidote and can cause death within days. But a cocktail of antibodies could one day offer victims at least a slim window for treatment.

    A new study presented February 7 at the American Society for...

    02/10/2017 - 10:02 Health, Cells, Biomedicine
  • News in Brief

    Cold plasma puts the chill on norovirus

    WASHINGTON — A nasty stomach virus that can linger on fruits and veggies may have met its match in cold plasma.

    In experiments, the ionized gas, created by filtering room-temperature air through an electric field, virtually eliminated norovirus from lettuce, researchers reported February 7 at the American Society for Microbiology Biothreats meeting.

     Norovirus is the leading cause...

    02/10/2017 - 07:00 Health, Microbiology
  • News

    Malaria molecule makes blood extra-alluring to mosquitoes

    Malaria parasites seduce mosquitoes on the sly.

    Plasmodium falciparum parasites produce a molecule that makes parasite-infected blood more attractive to malaria-transmitting mosquitoes, researchers report online February 9 in Science. The insects slurp up this enticing meal, helping the parasite spread to new hosts.

    “It’s a really intriguing glimpse into how Plasmodium might have...

    02/09/2017 - 14:00 Immune Science
  • Science Ticker

    How hydras know where to regrow their heads

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    Hydras, petite pond polyps known for their seemingly eternal youth, exemplify the art of bouncing back. The animals’ cellular scaffolding, or cytoskeleton, can regrow from a slice of tissue that’s just 5 percent of its full body size. Researchers thought that molecular signals told cells where and how to rebuild, but new evidence suggests there are other forces at play....

    02/09/2017 - 10:00 Animals, Biophysics, Cells