Vol. 198 No. 11

Reviews & Previews

Science Visualized

Notebook

Features

More Stories from the December 19, 2020 issue

  1. The front of the cruise ship the Diamond Princess
    Science & Society

    This COVID-19 pandemic timeline shows how fast the coronavirus took over our lives

    Look back on how the coronavirus pandemic took over 2020 and how efforts to fight back evolved.

    By
  2. Physician Lisa Fitzpatrick
    Science & Society

    Hear from people taking action against COVID-19

    Researchers, a health care worker, a clinical trial volunteer and others share their experiences during the pandemic.

    By
  3. NYU Zoom class
    Science & Society

    What will life be like after the coronavirus pandemic ends?

    Researchers offer a range of perspectives on the possible long-term social consequences of COVID-19.

    By
  4. Elvis worms
    Science & Society

    From Elvis worms to the Milky Way’s edge, these science stories sparked joy in 2020

    During a gloomy year dominated by a pandemic, these scientific discoveries were reminders that we live in a world of wonder.

    By
  5. East Troublesome Fire
    Climate

    Wildfires, heat waves and hurricanes broke all kinds of records in 2020

    Climate change did not take a break during the pandemic.

    By
  6. astronauts traveling to the ISS
    Space

    Here are the highlights from a busy year in space launches

    Satellites, Mars rovers and astronauts launched into space in 2020.

    By
  7. Asian giant hornet
    Animals

    Rumors of a ‘murder hornet’ apocalypse may have been exaggerated

    Murder hornets sightings in the Pacific northwest inspired a mix of concern and delight.

    By
  8. peanuts in a bowl
    Health & Medicine

    Against all odds, 2020 featured some good health news

    Good health news in 2020 included a first treatment for peanut allergies, a rare self-cure for HIV, and an Ebola outbreak ends.

    By
  9. hallucinogenic mushrooms
    Neuroscience

    Psilocybin may help treat depression, a small study finds

    Researchers found that a compound in psychedelic mushrooms eased depression symptoms, but larger studies are needed.

    By
  10. Fritillaria delavayi plant blending with rocky background
    Plants

    These plants seem like they’re trying to hide from people

    A plant used in traditional Chinese medicine has evolved remarkable camouflage in areas with intense harvesting pressure, a study suggests.

    By
  11. supercooled water molecules illustrated
    Physics

    Supercooled water has been caught morphing between two forms

    A new experiment used ultrafast techniques to reveal high-density water transforming into low-density water at subfreezing temperatures.

    By
  12. TRAPPIST-1 exoplanet system
    Space

    Planets with many neighbors may be the best places to look for life

    Solar systems with many planets in circular orbits suggest a calm life-nurturing past, while single exoplanets with eccentric orbits hint at chaos.

    By
  13. Magnetar illustration
    Space

    Astronomers spotted colliding neutron stars that may have formed a magnetar

    Astronomers may have witnessed the formation of a kind of rapidly spinning, extremely magnetized stellar corpse for the first time.

    By
  14. People with the genetic disease progeria
    Health & Medicine

    The FDA has approved the first drug to treat the rapid-aging disease progeria

    Children with a rare genetic disorder called progeria age quickly and often die before they are 15. A newly approved drug may give them more time.

    By
  15. ancient bone tool
    Anthropology

    Homo erectus, not humans, may have invented the barbed bone point

    Carved artifacts excavated from Tanzania’s Olduvai Gorge suggest now-extinct hominids made barbed bone points long before humans did, researchers say.

    By
  16. illustration of a long-necked dinosaur leaning down to drink from a river
    Paleontology

    How massive long-necked dinosaurs rose to rule the Jurassic herbivores

    New dinosaur fossil dates to same time as a volcanic surge, suggesting ensuing changes in plant life allowed these long-necked giants to emerge.

    By
  17. guttural toad
    Animals

    Guttural toads shrank by a third after just 100 years on two islands

    Introduced in the 1920s, toads on two islands in the Indian Ocean have shrunken limbs and bodies that may be evidence that "island dwarfism" can evolve quickly.

    By
  18. David and Goliath illustration
    Archaeology

    The biblical warrior Goliath may not have been so giant after all

    Archaeological finds suggest the width of the walls of Goliath’s home city were used to metaphorically represent the Old Testament figure’s height.

    By
  19. farm on Mars, illustrated
    Planetary Science

    Farming on Mars will be a lot harder than ‘The Martian’ made it seem

    Lab experiments developing and testing fake Martian dirt are proving just how difficult it would be to farm on the Red Planet.

    By
  20. firefighter in California wildfires
    Earth

    Technology and natural hazards clash to create ‘natech’ disasters

    Hurricanes, wildfires and nature’s other extreme events are increasingly causing damage to infrastructure crucial for safety and communication.

    By
  21. SoundWatch smartwatch app
    Tech

    A smartwatch app alerts users with hearing loss to nearby sounds

    With a new smartwatch app, users who are deaf or hard of hearing can get alerts that an alarm is going off or someone is knocking at the door.

    By
  22. Neogobius melanostomus
    Animals

    A fish’s fins may be as sensitive to touch as fingertips

    Newfound parallels between fins and fingers suggest that touch-sensing limbs evolved early, setting the stage for a shared way to sense surroundings.

    By