Vol. 192 No. 11
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More Stories from the December 23, 2017 issue

  1. Planetary Science

    Here’s what you might have missed in space this year

    Missions to Jupiter and Saturn made big headlines, and 2017 also saw exciting updates from missions of years past.

  2. Animals

    2017 delivered amazing biology finds from organisms large and small

    From giant African elephants to tiny tardigrades, scientists discovered some surprising biology this year.

  3. Particle Physics

    Excess antielectrons aren’t from nearby dead stars, study says

    Pulsars might not be behind excess antimatter, gamma-ray observations suggest.

  4. Archaeology

    Skeletons could provide clues to who wrote or protected the Dead Sea Scrolls

    Skeletons suggest a group of celibate men inhabited Dead Sea Scrolls site.

  5. Materials Science

    This material does weird things under pressure

    A new metamaterial has a seemingly impossible property: It swells when squeezed.

  6. Plants

    The dietary habits of the emerald ash borer beetle are complicated

    Tests answer some questions about the emerald ash borer’s hidden taste for olive and fringe trees.

  7. Animals

    Seeds coated in a common pesticide might affect birds’ migration

    Eating small amounts of a neonicotinoid pesticide can disorient white-crowned sparrows.

  8. Quantum Physics

    ‘Arrow of time’ reversed in quantum experiment

    In quantum systems, heat can flow “backward,” from cold to hot.

  9. Archaeology

    Hidden hoard hints at how ancient elites protected the family treasures

    A secret stash at an ancient site in Israel called Megiddo illuminates the Iron Age practice of hoarding wealth.

  10. Astronomy

    Here’s what really happened to Hanny’s Voorwerp

    Glowing clouds of gas known as Hanny’s Voorwerp offer a way to study galaxies and black holes in the distant past.

  11. Oceans

    In the deep ocean, these bacteria play a key role in trapping carbon

    Mysterious nitrite-oxidizing bacteria capture more carbon than previously thought and may be the primary engine at the base of the deep ocean’s food web.

  12. Animals

    Most blue whales are ‘righties,’ except for this one move

    Though many blue whales tend to be “right-handed” when hunting for krill, one specific barrel roll move requires a lefty twist.

  13. Health & Medicine

    Testosterone may be one reason why men don’t get asthma as much as women

    Adult women have higher rates of asthma than men, and testosterone’s effect on the immune system may partly explain that difference.

  14. Physics

    Collision illuminates the mysterious makeup of neutron stars

    Scientists size up neutron stars using gravitational waves and light.

  15. Astronomy

    This year’s neutron star collision unlocks cosmic mysteries

    A rare and long-awaited astronomical event united thousands of astronomers in a frenzy of observations.

  16. Genetics

    CRISPR gene editing moved into new territory in 2017

    Scientists edited viable human embryos with CRISPR/Cas9 this year.

  17. Climate

    The Larsen C ice shelf break has sparked groundbreaking research

    The hubbub over the iceberg that broke off Larsen C may have died down, but scientists are just getting warmed up to study the aftermath.

  18. Humans

    The story of humans’ origins got a revision in 2017

    Human evolution may have involved the gradual assembly of scattered skeletal traits, fossils of Homo naledi and other species show.

  19. Astronomy

    Seven Earth-sized planets entered the spotlight this year

    The discovery of seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a single cool star fuels a debate over what counts as good news in the search for life outside the solar system.

  20. Quantum Physics

    A quantum communications satellite proved its potential in 2017

    Quantum communication through space is now possible, putting the quantum internet within closer reach.

  21. Health & Medicine

    Worries grow that climate change will quietly steal nutrients from major food crops

    Studies show that rice, wheat and other staples could lose proteins and minerals, putting more people at risk of hunger worldwide.

  22. Health & Medicine

    Approval of gene therapies for two blood cancers led to an ‘explosion of interest’ in 2017

    The first gene therapies approved in the United States are treating patients with certain types of leukemia and lymphoma.

  23. Neuroscience

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

    Examinations of NFL players’ postmortem brains turned up chronic traumatic encephalopathy in 99 percent of samples in large dataset.

  24. Health & Medicine

    Zika cases are down, but researchers prepare for the virus’s return

    The number of Zika cases in the Western Hemisphere have dropped this year, but the need for basic scientific and public health research of the virus remains strong.

  25. Genetics

    Bats in China carry all the ingredients to make a new SARS virus

    Viruses infecting bats could recombine to re-create SARS.

  26. Physics

    These 2017 discoveries could be big news, if they turn out to be true

    Some findings reported in 2017 are potentially big news, if they hold up to additional scientific scrutiny.

  27. Genetics

    50 years ago, synthetic DNA made its debut

    Synthetic DNA has come a long way since it arrived on the scene half a century ago.