Vol. 177 No. #4

More Stories from the February 13, 2010 issue

  1. Life

    Sea slug steals genes for greens, makes chlorophyll like a plant

    A sea slug, long known as a kidnapper of algal biochemistry, can make its own supply of a key photosynthetic compound.

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  2. Earth

    Hydrothermal vent environments not unchanging

    Once-rare organisms can become dominant, probably as some environmental conditions change over time.

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  3. Health & Medicine

    Gene variant might guard against Alzheimer’s, other dementia

    Same form has been linked to longevity and ‘good’ cholesterol levels.

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  4. Health & Medicine

    Study supports connection between BPA and heart disease

    U.S. population data reveal possible relationship between cardiovascular risk and plastics chemical.

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  5. Life

    Soybean genome turns out to be soysoybeanbean

    The plant's newly sequenced genetic blueprint includes a surprising number of spare copies.

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  6. Psychology

    Newborns nurse long-term memories of smells

    Newborn babies readily link specific scents to breast-feeding and favor those smells as toddlers.

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  7. Life

    Alligators breathe like birds

    Tricky measurements of flow reveal that air moves through the animal in one direction.

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  8. Health & Medicine

    Benefits of omega-3 fatty acids tally up

    A study of patients with sepsis and a second in people with heart disease suggest the fish oil compound may aid health.

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  9. Life

    Snail in shining armor

    A deep-sea gastropod’s natural shield may offer ideas for human protection.

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  10. Humans

    Children grasp time with distance in mind

    A study of Greek school children indicates that spatial knowledge lies at the root of how youngsters conceptualize time.

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  11. Humans

    Minor air traffic delays add up to big costs

    On average, the economic impact of late flights exceeds that of hurricanes

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  12. Materials Science

    Breakup doesn’t keep hydrogel down

    Scientists create a new material that is strong, soft and self-healing.

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  13. Life

    MRSA bacterial strain mutates quickly as it spreads

    Antibiotic-resistant microbe's detailed family tree reveals roots of the global infection.

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  14. Math

    Slime mold is master network engineer

    Single-cell organism develops food distribution system that is as efficient as the Tokyo rail system; inspires new math model for designing dynamic systems.

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  15. Crop irrigation could be cooling Midwest

    A recent drop in summer highs may be linked to greater moisture from the Great Plains.

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  16. Earth

    Tsunamis could telegraph their imminent arrival

    Telecommunication cables could give early warnings of giant waves.

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  17. Life

    Prion protein is not all bad

    The molecule’s real job may be to maintain myelin around nerves.

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  18. Humans

    Science superstars

    Forty Intel Science Talent Search 2010 finalists have been announced.

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  19. Science Future for February 13, 2010

    February 22–26 The American Geophysical Union’s Ocean Sciences meeting is held in Portland, Ore. See www.agu.org/meetings/os10 March 5–6 Researchers and clinicians meet in San Diego to discuss genomic medicine’s future. See www.scripps.org/events March 18 Debut of an interactive exhibit on extreme weather at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. See www.msichicago.org

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  20. On Thin Ice: The Changing World of the Polar Bear by Richard Ellis

    The natural history of polar bears entwines with human history in this science writer’s ode to the world’s largest land carnivore. ON THIN ICE: THE CHANGING WORLD OF THE POLAR BEAR BY RICHARD ELLIS Alfred A. Knopf, 2009, 400 p., $28.95.

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  21. So You Want to Be a Scientist? by Philip A. Schwartzkroin

    A neuroscientist describes the pros, cons and politics of a career in research for aspiring scientists. SO YOU WANT TO BE A SCIENTIST? BY PHILIP A. SCHWARTZKROIN Oxford University Press, 2009, 192 p., $19.95.

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  22. Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life by Scott D. Sampson

    The past three decades have seen a plethora of major discoveries, described here, about dinosaurs and prehistoric Earth. DINOSAUR ODYSSEY: FOSSIL THREADS IN THE WEB OF LIFE BY SCOTT D. SAMPSON University of California Press, 2009, 332 p., $29.95.

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  23. Gifts from the Ancestors: Ancient Ivories of Bering Strait by William W. Fitzhugh, Julie Hollowell and Aron L. Crowell, eds.

    The histories of Arctic cultures are explored through scholarly essays, illustrations and photos of the region’s intricately carved relics. GIFTS FROM THE ANCESTORS: ANCIENT IVORIES OF BERING STRAIT BY WILLIAM W. FITZHUGH, JULIE HOLLOWELL AND ARON L. CROWELL, EDS. Yale University Press, 2009, 328 p., $55.

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  24. Before the Big Bang: The Prehistory of Our Universe by Brian Clegg

    A scientist-writer explains theories of the universe’s origin for the nonscientist. BEFORE THE BIG BANG: THE PREHISTORY OF OUR UNIVERSE BY BRIAN CLEGG St. Martin’s Press, 2009, 306 p., $25.99.

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  25. The Humans Who Went Extinct: Why Neanderthals Died Out and We Survived by Clive Finlayson

    An evolutionary ecologist argues that humans weren’t superior to other hominid species, only luckier. THE HUMANS WHO WENT EXTINCT: WHY NEANDERTHALS DIED OUT AND WE SURVIVED BY CLIVE FINLAYSON Oxford University Press, 2009, 273 p., $29.95.

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  26. Book Review: What On Earth Evolved? 100 Species That Changed the World by Christopher Lloyd

    Throughout Earth’s past, innumerable species have come and gone without making much of a mark, but a select few have lived long and prospered indeed. In this eloquent and richly illustrated volume, Lloyd, who also authored the planetary history What on Earth Happened?, compiles a veritable who’s who of organisms that he contends are the […]

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  27. Book Review: The Joy of Chemistry: The Amazing Science of Familiar Things by Cathy Cobb and Monty L. Fetterolf

    Citing The Joy of Sex and The Joy of Cooking as texts that demystified important — yet sometimes perplexing — terrain, Cobb and Fetterolf aim to do the same for chemistry. Their book succeeds in doing just that. THE JOY OF CHEMISTRY: THE AMAZING SCIENCE OF FAMILIAR THINGS BY CATHY COBB AND MONTY L. FETTEROLF […]

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  28. Book Review: Breeding Bio Insecurity: How U.S. Biodefense Is Exporting Fear, Globalizing Risk, and Making Us All Less Secure by Lynn C. Klotz and Edward J. Sylvester

    American efforts to counter potential biological warfare threats are creating a 21st century Trojan horse. BREEDING BIO INSECURITY: HOW U.S. BIODEFENSE IS EXPORTING FEAR, GLOBALIZING RISK, AND MAKING US ALL LESS SECURE BY LYNN C. KLOTZ AND EDWARD J. SYLVESTER Klotz and Sylvester make this point early and often in their latest book. They argue […]

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  29. Making informed decisions about mammograms

    In November, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a nongovernmental advisory panel of health experts, recommended that routine mammography for breast cancer screening start at age 50, not 40. It met with a chorus of objections. Lisa Schwartz, a general internist at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in Lebanon, N.H., investigates […]

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  30. Breaking it Down

    Suppose there was a fourth little pig. This one was a physicist. Unlike his brother the engineer, who built a house out of tried-and-true bricks, the physicist pig chose a building material by doing calculations based on fundamental principles. He settled on a substance made from silicon and oxygen, an abundant material with high bond […]

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  31. Starting Anew

    It could have been a scene from a sequel to Jurassic Park: Peering down at the tiny worms wriggling under the lens of her microscope, biologist Alexandra Bely witnessed a performance that hadn’t been played in nature in millions of years. The beastie was sprouting a second head. PATHWAY TO REGENERATION A team found that […]

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  32. Letters

    Snack addicts The experiment outlined in “Junk food turns rats into addicts” (SN: 11/21/09, p. 8) seems to have overlooked an ingredient list. The junk foods fed to the rats were junky, to be sure, but which foods were the most addictive? Many junk foods are filled with alarming amounts of things like mono­sodium glutamate. […]

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  33. Science Past from the issue of February 13, 1960

    DISCOVERY ADDS CLUES TO COMPOSITION OF LIGNIN — The sugar glucose is part of the answer to a biochemical riddle — the exact composition of lignin. Lignin, which together with cellulose comprises wood, is a highly complex carbohydrate whose complete structure is unknown. It is considered a waste product…. Experiments … have shown that in […]

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  34. Streetlights and Shadows: Searching for the Keys to Adaptive Decision Making by Gary Klein

    Good decision makers share traits such as being accepting of ambiguity and complexity, one scientist argues. MIT Press, 2009, 337 p., $27.95. STREETLIGHTS AND SHADOWS: SEARCHING FOR THE KEYS TO ADAPTIVE DECISION MAKING BY GARY KLEIN

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