February 21, 2015 | Science News

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February 21, 2015

Editor's Note

Editor in Chief Eva Emerson ruminates on the power of knowledge, and the ways scientists are refining how we think about the aging human brain, far away comets and even the speed of light.
By Eva Emerson | February 2, 2015
Magazine issue: Vol. 187, No. 4 , February 21, 2015 , p. 2

Features

painting of person alone

Feature

Researchers are beginning to study ways to help adults with autism navigate independently, get jobs and find friendship.
prairie dogs

Feature

Animals live in a world of sounds. Clever experiments are finally teasing out how human-made noise can cause dangerous distractions.

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Editor's Note

Editor in Chief Eva Emerson ruminates on the power of knowledge, and the ways scientists are refining how we think about the aging human brain, far away comets and even the speed of light.

Features

prairie dogs
Animals live in a world of sounds. Clever experiments are finally teasing out how human-made noise can cause dangerous distractions.
painting of person alone
Researchers are beginning to study ways to help adults with autism navigate independently, get jobs and find friendship.

News

Esquel meteorite
Pockets of iron and nickel in meteorites suggest that asteroids in the early solar system produced magnetic fields for much longer than once thought.
Taaj mural
New discoveries peg ritual specialists as force behind bark-paper tomes and wall murals.
Patch of sky
The claimed detection of primordial gravitational waves does not hold up after taking into account galactic dust, a new analysis concludes.
Kepler 444
Five rocky planets orbit the 11.2-billion-year-old star Kepler 444, suggesting that Earth-sized worlds formed in the early universe.
Snake illustration
Earliest snake fossils provide evidence snakes evolved their flexible skulls before their long, limbless bodies.
extendable funnel-shaped mouth tube of the cone snail
Fish-hunting cone snails turns insulin into a weapon that drops their prey’s blood sugar and eases capture.
Comet 67P
Rosetta finds diverse landscapes on comet 67P, which could provide researchers with clues about how the solar system formed.
Hand bones
South African fossils contain inner signs of humanlike hands, indicating possible tool use nearly 3 million years ago.
camera filming experimental setup
A high-speed camera snaps sharp details of how alkali metals explode in water — a classic, but until now, not fully explained chemical reaction.
A newfound set of brain connections appears to control fear memories, a finding that may lead to a better understanding of PTSD and other anxiety disorders.
laser light
Even in vacuum conditions, light can move slower than its maximum speed depending on the structure of its pulses.
Flu shot picture
The environment, especially microbes, shapes immune system reactions more than genes do.
Swirling fluids
Rapidly spinning black holes can generate turbulence, a new analysis shows.
Homo sapiens braincase
New find suggests humans mated with Neandertals in Middle East before taking on Europe.
Virome shapes graphic
A rise in some bacteria-killing viruses in the intestines may deplete good bacteria and trigger inflammatory bowel diseases.
E. coli
Engineering E. coli to depend on human-made molecules may keep genetically modified bacteria from escaping into nature.
Aging influences the breakdown of the blood-brain barrier, which may contribute to learning and memory problems later in life.

Notebook

Three pitcher plant traps
Carnivorous pitcher plant traps rarely catch much, but their lackadaisical hunting turns out not to be so lame after all.
Caretta caretta sea turtle
Over 19 years, geomagnetic fields changed slightly and so did loggerheads’ nesting sites.
Scientists in 1965 measured buildup of radioactive carbon from nuclear bomb testing in people.
Employment graph
Scientists’ share of total employment is lower in United States than in 16 other countries.
greater mouse-tailed bat
Bats get a clue to where dinner is by listening to peers attacking prey.

Reviews & Previews

Dolphins and whales pass cultural knowledge to one another, the authors of a new book argue.
Steven Weinberg’s new book ‘To Explain the World’ illustrates the difficulty of the development of modern science.

Letters to the Editor

Readers ask about Earth's most abundant mineral and discuss the notoriously unpredictable behavior of pedestrians.

Science Visualized

Sound map
The National Park Service mapped noise across the United States.

Society News

Teens from 18 states will soon face off in the finals of the 2015 Intel Science Talent Search, the nation’s most prestigious science research competition for high school seniors.