Vol. 191 No. 3
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More Stories from the February 18, 2017 issue

  1. Neuroscience

    How mice use their brain to hunt

    Messages from the brain’s amygdala help mice chase and kill prey.

  2. Chemistry

    New molecular knot is most complex yet

    The knot is woven from 192 atoms of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen and forms a triple braid with eight crossing points.

  3. Materials Science

    New ‘smart’ fibers curb fires in lithium-ion batteries

    To stifle battery fires, scientists create component with heat-release flame retardant.

  4. Life

    Here’s how earwax might clean ears

    Science seeks inspiration in earwax for dreams of self-cleaning machinery.

  5. Climate

    Petrified tree rings tell ancient tale of sun’s behavior

    The 11-year cycle of solar activity may have been around for at least 290 million years, ancient tree rings suggest.

  6. Earth

    Coastal waters were an oxygen oasis 2.3 billion years ago

    Coastal waters contained enough oxygen to support complex life-forms including some animals hundreds of millions of years before fossils of such life first appear.

  7. Tech

    Heart-hugging robot does the twist (and squeeze)

    A robotic sleeve that slips around the heart mimics the heart’s natural movement, squeezing and twisting to pump blood in pigs. If it works in humans, it could buy time for heart failure patients awaiting a transplant.

  8. Climate

    For three years in a row, Earth breaks heat record

    Spurred by climate change and heat from a strong El Niño, 2016 was the hottest year on record.

  9. Science & Society

    Cancer studies get mixed grades on redo tests

    Replications of cancer studies fail to reproduce some results.

  10. Climate

    Monsoon deluges turned ancient Sahara green

    The ancient Sahara Desert sprouted trees and lakes for thousands of years thanks to intense rainfall.

  11. Ecosystems

    In debate over origin of fairy circles, both sides might be right

    Odd bare spots called fairy circles in African grasslands might be caused by both termites and plants.

  12. Climate

    Earth’s last major warm period was as hot as today

    Sea surface temperatures today are comparable to those around 125,000 years ago, a time when sea levels were 6 to 9 meters higher, new research suggests.

  13. Physics

    Chemists strike gold, solve mystery about precious metal’s properties

    A longstanding puzzle about gold’s properties has been solved with more complex theoretical calculations.

  14. Life

    Asteroid barrage, ancient marine life boom not linked

    Impacts from asteroid debris probably didn’t trigger the boom in marine animal diversity around 471 million years ago during the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event.

  15. Anthropology

    Snooze patterns vary across cultures, opening eyes to evolution of sleep

    Sleep plays out differently across cultures, but a consistent cycle of z’s and activity appears crucial.

  16. Physics

    New claim staked for metallic hydrogen

    Scientists report transforming hydrogen into a metal at high pressure, but some experts dispute the claim.

  17. Life

    Mouse cells grown in rats cure diabetes in mice

    Mixing cells of two species produces pig and cattle embryos with some human cells.

  18. Tech

    Legos inspire versatile fluid-filled devices

    Tiny devices shuttle fluid around using reconfigurable Lego-like bricks.

  19. Animals

    Pectoral sandpipers go the distance, and then some

    Even after a long migration, male pectoral sandpipers keep flying, adding 3,000 extra kilometers on quest for mates.

  20. Health & Medicine

    Rogue antibody linked to severe second dengue infections

    Alternate antibody may indicate whether someone is susceptible to severe dengue disease.

  21. Animals

    For calmer chickens, bathe eggs in light

    Shining light on incubating eggs leads to calmer adult chickens, a study suggests.

  22. Neuroscience

    Artist’s amnesia could help unlock mysteries of memory

    In "The Perpetual Now", journalist Michael Lemonick looks at what an artist’s memory loss can teach neuroscientists about the brain.

  23. Animals

    ‘Cannibalism’ chronicles grisly science of eating your own

    In "Cannibalism", a zoologist explores a grisly topic that scientists have only recently begun to study seriously.

  24. Paleontology

    Ancient giant otter unearthed in China

    Fossils unearthed in China reveal a newly discovered, now-extinct species of otter that lived some 6.2 million years ago.

  25. Animals

    Desert ants look to the sky, rely on memory to navigate backward

    Desert ants appear to use a combination of visual memory and celestial cues to make it back to the nest walking butt-first, researchers find.