December 12, 2015 | Science News

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December 12, 2015

Editor's Note

Thanks to CRISPR, scientists’ plans for effective use of gene drives suddenly look feasible.
By Eva Emerson | December 12, 2015
Magazine issue: Vol. 188, No. 12 , December 12, 2015 , p. 2

Features

illustration of mechanical mosquito

Feature

Gene drives may wipe out malaria and take down invasive species. But they may be difficult to control.
facial sketch

Feature

DNA-based facial sketches are moving into the crime-solving arena. With current science, predictions of some features are better than others.

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Help us keep you informed.

Editor's Note

Thanks to CRISPR, scientists’ plans for effective use of gene drives suddenly look feasible.

Features

facial sketch
DNA-based facial sketches are moving into the crime-solving arena. With current science, predictions of some features are better than others.
illustration of mechanical mosquito
Gene drives may wipe out malaria and take down invasive species. But they may be difficult to control.

News

Snails may not be speedy, but itty-bitty snail shells found in Borneo are breaking a size record at a breakneck pace.
DNA folds
Study of human protein-coding variation reveals which genes are more likely to be involved in genetic diseases.
illustration of planets colliding
Certain elements absent from lunar samples but present on Earth might be hidden deep inside the moon, a relic from how it was put together.
volcanoes
Scarcity of a hydrogen isotope called deuterium in molten rock from Earth’s depths suggests that the planet’s H2O originated from water-logged dust during formation, not comets.
 László Babai
A new algorithm efficiently solves the graph isomorphism problem, which has puzzled computer scientists for decades.
obese child
Worrisome changes to the heart that are associated with obesity can appear in childhood, a new MRI study shows.
honeycombs in a log
Residue on pottery pegs ancient farmers as devotees of honeybee products.
Phobos
Grooves that wrap around Phobos show that the Martian moon is starting to crack from stress.
family making a meal at home
Studies find that even small changes in eating habits and movement can lower risk of heart disease.
Ice volcanoes, young landscapes and twirling moons are just a few more surprises from Pluto.
Domestication might have helped early vine plants like pumpkin survive after seed-dispersing megafauna went extinct.
cup of coffee
Drinking up to five cups of coffee a day reduced the risk of dying early from heart and brain diseases and suicide.
Recovered DNA suggests Denisovans inhabited Siberia for around 60,000 years.
Titan
Saturn’s moon Titan might produce long-lasting storms squalls that flood the surface with liquid methane.
scan of brain of patient
Using ultrasounds, doctors attempted to slip a chemotherapy drug into a woman’s brain through the blood-brain barrier.
linemen
Linemen on a football team face raised cardiac risk over the course of a season, a study of college players shows.
Pluto’s heart is deep basin, possibly caused by a run in with something else in the Kuiper belt.
water droplets
Initially stationary water droplets can bounce on an extremely water-repellent surface as if on a trampoline.
baby who received experimental leukemia treatment
Doctors used molecular scalpels to tweak T cells to target leukemia but not harm the patient.
Brain’s GPS cells map time and distance, too.

Notebook

red howler monkey
Listening to the intense roars of howler monkeys in Mexico inspired scientists to decipher how and why calls differ among species.
Tapeworms can kick parasitism up a notch to become cancer, a case in Colombia shows.
illustration of Neandertals
Neandertals’ relationship to modern humans is still a matter of debate.
arid drylands
More drylands, largely impacting developing nations, are forecasted for near future.
a superpuff planet
Superpuffs are underweight, oversized planets that formed in outskirts of star systems before cuddling up close to their sun.

Reviews & Previews

Fossil Finder screenshot
The citizen science website FossilFinder.org lets anyone with an Internet connection look for fossils and characterize rocks at Kenya’s Lake Turkana Basin
Thomas Jaggar at Kilauea
In The Last Volcano, a geologist profiles Thomas Jaggar, one of the 20th century’s most influential volcanologists.

Letters to the Editor

Readers get a grip on gravity and more.

Science Visualized

solar wind simulation
Measurements of Mars’ atmosphere leaking into space could help scientists explain how the Red Planet lost its once life-friendly climate.