February 18, 2017 | Science News

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February 18, 2017View Digital Issue

Editor's Note

Acting Editor in Chief Elizabeth Quill discusses science's enduring legacy and that of Science News.
By Elizabeth Quill | February 2, 2017
Magazine issue: Vol. 191 No. 3 , February 18, 2017 , p. 2

Features

Supernova 1987A

Feature

The 1987 explosion of a star near the Milky Way 30 years ago set off years of fascinating findings.
supernova simulation

Feature

Scientists hope to detect neutrinos and gravitational waves from a nearby supernova.

Call to Action

SUPPORT SCIENCE NEWS

Science News is a nonprofit.

Help us keep you informed.

Editor's Note

Acting Editor in Chief Elizabeth Quill discusses science's enduring legacy and that of Science News.

Features

Supernova 1987A
The 1987 explosion of a star near the Milky Way 30 years ago set off years of fascinating findings.
supernova simulation
Scientists hope to detect neutrinos and gravitational waves from a nearby supernova.

News

robot heart
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.
flame resistant fibers
To stifle battery fires, scientists create component with heat-release flame retardant.
dengue virus structure
Alternate antibody may indicate whether someone is susceptible to severe dengue disease.
person napping
Sleep plays out differently across cultures, but a consistent cycle of z’s and activity appears crucial.
various tomatoes
Combining taste tests with genetics suggests what makes heirloom varieties tastier than mass-market tomatoes.
hydrogen under pressure
Scientists report transforming hydrogen into a metal at high pressure, but some experts dispute the claim.
chimeric mouse embryo
Mixing cells of two species produces pig and cattle embryos with some human cells.
gold nugget
A longstanding puzzle about gold’s properties has been solved with more complex theoretical calculations.
animals and their earwax
Science seeks inspiration in earwax for dreams of self-cleaning machinery.
doing experiments
Replications of cancer studies fail to reproduce some results.
2016 temperature difference map
Spurred by climate change and heat from a strong El Niño, 2016 was the hottest year on record.
fairy circles
Odd bare spots called fairy circles in African grasslands might be caused by both termites and plants.
molecular knot
The knot is woven from 192 atoms of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen and forms a triple braid with eight crossing points.
Mouse hunting
Messages from the brain’s amygdala help mice chase and kill prey.
Tiny devices shuttle fluid around using reconfigurable Lego-like bricks.
Fossils unearthed in China reveal a newly discovered, now-extinct species of otter that lived some 6.2 million years ago.
trilobites
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.
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.
sea level map
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.
Sahara desert
The ancient Sahara Desert sprouted trees and lakes for thousands of years thanks to intense rainfall.
fossil eukaryote
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.
tree rings
The 11-year cycle of solar activity may have been around for at least 290 million years, ancient tree rings suggest.

Notebook

chicken eggs incubating
Shining light on incubating eggs leads to calmer adult chickens, a study suggests.
man sweating while working out
Weekend warriors shove all their weekly activity into just one or two days, and it’s still enough to reduce mortality risk.
Venus' wave
A 10,000-kilometer-long gravity wave arched across the upper atmosphere of Venus. The feature may have been the largest of its kind in the solar system.
Germanium
Having pushed silicon to its limit, engineers are turning back to germanium.
male pectoral sandpiper
Even after a long migration, male pectoral sandpipers keep flying, adding 3,000 extra kilometers on quest for mates.

Reviews & Previews

Lonni Sue Johnson word search
In "The Perpetual Now", journalist Michael Lemonick looks at what an artist’s memory loss can teach neuroscientists about the brain.
black widow spider
In "Cannibalism", a zoologist explores a grisly topic that scientists have only recently begun to study seriously.
illustration of brain clock
The new book "Why Time Flies" is an exploration of how the body perceives time.

Letters to the Editor

Allergic overreactions, the possibility of silicon-based life and more in reader feedback.

Science Visualized

illustration of supernova 1987A
Thirty years ago, astronomers witnessed a nearby stellar explosion, but it wasn’t the first. Humanity has been recording local supernovas for nearly two millennia.