Vol. 182 No. #12
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More Stories from the December 15, 2012 issue

  1. Space

    Astronomers spot leftover light from ancient stars

    Ancient photons leave their mark in high-energy radiation from powerful galaxies.

  2. Health & Medicine

    Statin substitutes go beyond drawing board

    A new generation of cholesterol-lowering drugs might help people who can’t take the usual pills or who don’t benefit adequately from them.

  3. Life

    Trunk in cheek, elephant mimics Korean

    Novel posture lets animal imitate sounds of human words.

  4. Life

    Cancer cells self-destruct in blind mole rats

    Underground rodents evolved a way to zap mutating tissue.

  5. Health & Medicine

    Your brain on speed dating

    Activity in two regions helps calculate compatibility with potential mates.

  6. Health & Medicine

    Highlights from the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, Los Angeles, November 3-7

    Multivitamins may not reduce heart attacks, two drugs could protect heart from chemo damage, and more.

  7. Humans

    An ancient civilization’s wet ascent, dry demise

    Cave data suggest that ancient rainfall patterns swayed the course of Classic Maya societies.

  8. Health & Medicine

    Infant stress linked to teen brain changes

    Girls, but not boys, showed later changes in brain regions that regulate emotions.

  9. Humans

    Ancient hominid had an unusual diet

    A long-extinct member of the human evolutionary family had an uncommon taste for grasses and sedges.

  10. Life

    Telomere length linked to risk of dying

    Large study examines association between protective caps at end of chromosomes and health.

  11. Anthropology

    Highlights from the American Society of Human Genetics annual meeting

    Iceman’s origins, DNA fingerprinting, microRNAs and cancer risk, and growth genes and obesity risk.

  12. Life

    Ebola may go airborne

    Infected pigs can transmit virus to primates without contact, a new study finds.

  13. Humans

    Oldest examples of hunting weapon uncovered in South Africa

    A common ancestor of people and Neandertals may have flung stone-tipped shafts at animal prey.

  14. Life

    Rainforest katydids evolved mammal-like ears

    Tiny hearing organs below insect’s knees have a structure similar to those in humans.

  15. Space

    Rogue planet found among gang of stars

    Astronomers report the closest such free-floating object to Earth.

  16. Fly guy

    Brian Brown can discover a new kind of fly anywhere. He often takes up the search in exotic locales such as New Zealand, Chile or Taiwan, but he’s not picky. Once, he was challenged to find a new species in a Los Angeles backyard. After setting a trap and waiting, he pulled out a winner: […]

  17. Science Future for December 15, 2015

    December 20 Join astronomers for the Winter Solstice and Telescope Party at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Jupiter and the full moon will be on view. See bit.ly/SFsolparty January 13–15 Marine ecologist Enric Sala relates his ocean-exploring adventures at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall. Learn more at bit.ly/SFsala

  18. SN Online

    GENES & CELLS Understanding inherited conditions is proving to be difficult. See “Rare genetic tweaks may not be behind common diseases.” JPL-Caltech/NASA, Space Science Institute ATOM & COSMOS Titan and other moons may be crash debris. See “Violent birth proposed for Saturn’s moon mishmash.” BODY & BRAIN An invasive surgery works best for some. Read […]

  19. Seduced by Logic: Émilie Du Châtelet, Mary Somerville and the Newtonian Revolution by Robyn Arianrhod

    The tales of two women — a French aristocrat and a Scottish commoner —intersect in an exploration of how the pair advanced Newton’s ideas about the universe. Oxford Univ., 2012, 338 p., $34.95

  20. Hunger, Thirst, Sex, and Sleep: How the Brain Controls Our Passions by John K. Young

    A biologist delves into the varied roles of the hypothalamus, the command center in the brain that controls the most basic human drives. Rowman & Littlefield, 2012, 161 p., $39.95

  21. The Miracle of Trees (Wooden Books) by Olavi Huikari

    Packed with drawings and engravings, this pocket guide briefly covers the science of trees, from how they grow and reproduce to whether they feel pain. Walker & Co., 2012, 58 p., $12

  22. The Half-life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date by Samuel Arbesman

    Learning how knowledge changes over time, a mathematician contends, will help humans better make sense of their world. Current, 2012, 242 p., $25.95

  23. Particle Physics

    The Particle at the End of the Universe

    How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World, by Sean Carroll.

  24. BOOK REVIEW: Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Everending Earth by Craig Childs

    Review by Sid Perkins.

  25. Families in Flux

    As household arrangements take new directions, scientists attempt to sort out the social effects.

  26. Into the Fold

    Flat structures pop into 3-D forms, yielding miniature robots and tools.

  27. Dear Future Earthlings

    A message in a bottle won’t be enough to communicate with distant generations.

  28. Letters

    Curiosity cleanup In the article “Protecting the planet” (SN: 11/3/12, p. 32), the sidebar “Keeping Mars clean” gives the impression that Curiosity had not been contaminated, while the opposite is true. Apparently the sterilized craft was opened up and microbial contamination likely occurred. Curiosity’s drill bits may be contaminated with Earth microbes. So now NASA […]

  29. Physics

    Science Past from the issue of December 15, 1962

  30. Train Wreck: The Forensics of Rail Disasters by George Bibel

    Investigations of 17 accidents help show why trains crash and what those incidents can teach. Johns Hopkins Univ., 2012, 355 p., $29.95