Vol. 162 No. #28
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More Stories from the December 28, 2002 issue

  1. Science News of the Year 2002

    A review of important scientific achievements reported in Science News during the year 2002.

  2. Anthropology

    Chinese Roots: Skull may complicate human-origins debate

    A Chinese Homo sapiens skull, estimated in a controversial new study to be at least 68,000 years old and probably more than 100,000 years old, may challenge the theory that modern humans originated solely in Africa.

  3. Earth

    Life at the Frigid Edge: Microbes turn up deep in Antarctic lake ice

    A pocket of cold, concentrated saltwater at the bottom of an Antarctic lake could harbor life, say researchers who found microbes in the ice right above the briny layer.

  4. Animals

    Ant Traffic Flow: Raiding swarms with few rules avoid gridlock

    The 200,000 virtually blind army ants using a single trail to swarm out to a raid and return home with the booty naturally develop three traffic lanes, and a study now shows that simple individual behavior makes the pattern.

  5. Materials Science

    Gold Deposits: Scientists design nanoparticle films

    In a step toward a cheaper, easier way to connect computer chips to computers, scientists have patterned semiconductors with a film of extremely small gold particles.

  6. Showing Some Spine: Imaging of nerve cell branches stirs debate

    Two research groups have taken unprecedented, high-resolution images of nerve cells inside the brains of live mice—and come to seemingly contradictory views.

  7. Health & Medicine

    Sea Sickness: Despite cleaner cruises, diarrhea outbreaks persist

    Improvements in vessel sanitation have apparently contributed to a gradual decline in diarrheal infections on cruise ships, but standard cleaning practices don't reliably wipe out the viruses that are behind a recent rash of outbreaks.

  8. Astronomy

    News of the Early Universe: Findings from the cosmic microwave background

    The most detailed snapshots so far of the infant universe confirm that the cosmos consists mostly of mystery material, called dark energy, that accelerates the universe's expansion.

  9. Paleontology

    New fossil weighs in on primate origins

    A 55-million-year-old primate skeleton found in Wyoming indicates that the common ancestor of modern monkeys, apes, and people was built primarily for hanging tightly onto tree branches.

  10. Health & Medicine

    Herpes vaccine progresses

    A new vaccine for genital herpes protects some women but not men.

  11. Physics

    Prying apart antimatter

    Matter and antimatter look reassuringly alike in physicists' first investigations of energy levels of antihydrogen atoms.

  12. Anthropology

    Ethiopians reveal high-altitude twist

    To the surprise of researchers, blood measures of oxygen-rich hemoglobin in Ethiopian villagers living more than 2 miles above sea level are the same as those of lowland dwellers.

  13. Planetary Science

    Fresh crater found on lunar images

    Scientists analyzing images of the moon's surface taken from lunar orbit believe they've identified the crater that formed when a small asteroid slammed into the moon almost 5 decades ago.

  14. Earth

    Contrails forecast on the horizon

    Studies of the contrails generated by jets flying high over Alaska may lead to improved techniques for predicting the formation of the artificial clouds, which some scientists suggest have a warming effect on Earth's climate.

  15. Earth

    Toppling icebergs sped breakup of Larsen B ice shelf

    Scientists now think they know what accelerated the rapid disintegration of most of Antarctica's Larsen B ice shelf early this year after a strong summer storm pummeled the region.

  16. Earth

    Warm arctic summer melted much ice

    Satellite observations of the Arctic Ocean show that the amount of sea ice there this year was the lowest it's been in more than 20 years.

  17. Math

    Drama in Numbers

    Several mathematics-rich stage productions of the last few years have not only captivated mathematicians but also attracted diverse and enthusiastic audiences.

  18. Physics

    Getting Warped

    While museum displays such as simulations of warped space-time acquaint visitors with the ideas behind Albert Einstein's scientific discoveries, other galleries of artifacts, letters, and even film footage reveal the multifaceted man that Einstein was.

  19. Humans

    Cold Comfort

    A futuristic play of cryogenic proportions.