Vol. 179 No. #1
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More Stories from the January 1, 2011 issue

  1. Humans

    Vitamin D targets increased

    A panel advises raising the dietary allowance for the nutrient, but some scientists say the new recommendations are still woefully low.

  2. Chemistry

    The nitty-gritty of diamond polishing

    Researchers figure out what happens at the atomic scale when jewelers polish the hardest substance known.

  3. Physics

    Dissolving a puzzle

    A mathematical analysis shows what it takes to remove rock fast enough to create a cavern.

  4. Chemistry

    Snot has the power to alter scents

    Enzymes in mice's nasal mucus can alter certain odors before the nose can detect them, a new study finds.

  5. Space

    It’s really full of stars

    Astronomers find such an abundance of red dwarfs in eight nearby galaxies that they suggest the stellar population of the universe may be three times current estimates.

  6. Chemistry

    Bacterium grows with arsenic

    A microbe appears to substitute a normally toxic element for a basic ingredient of life, raising intriguing questions about the limits of biochemistry.

  7. Physics

    Nuclear split surprises

    Physicists spot a new and unexpected type of lopsided fission in the element mercury.

  8. Life

    Just warm enough

    Mammals may have evolved a characteristic body temperature to avoid fungal infections without burning too hot.

  9. Physics

    Light can generate lift

    Researchers create a lightfoil that can push small objects perpendicularly.

  10. Earth

    Icequake swarms portend some avalanches

    By keeping an ear to the ice, scientists can predict impending glacial crack-ups two weeks in advance.

  11. Life

    Friendly fire blamed in some H1N1 deaths

    A poorly targeted immune response to the 2009 pandemic flu virus caused young adults and the middle-aged to suffer more than usual.

  12. Psychology

    Connected at church, happy with life

    People who feel best about their lives combine religious identity with congregational friendships, a survey finds.

  13. Space

    Beast at galaxy core sits, lacking spin

    New observations suggest that the Milky Way's central black hole rotates slowly or not at all, reinforcing its image as a gentle gravitational giant.

  14. Space

    Crab nebula outbursts shock astronomers

    Short-lived gamma-ray flares recently recorded from the Crab nebula supernova remnant, known for its steady emissions, are perplexing researchers and forcing them to consider new models for particle acceleration.

  15. Space

    Collider in the sky

    Protons buffeted by stellar winds in the Eta Carinae star system are accelerated to energies comparable to the maximum power of the world’s biggest particle smasher.

  16. Planetary Science

    Saturn’s rings explained

    A huge shattered moon could have sprayed ice particles around the newborn planet.

  17. Psychology

    Face memory peaks late, after age 30

    Striking an unanticipated blow for mature thinkers, 30- to 34-year-olds have the best face memory.

  18. Science Past from the issue of December 31, 1960

    “TAKING IT EASY” IS BAD FOR BUSINESS EXECUTIVES — Physicians should not always tell worried, nervous business executives to “take it easy,” [said] Dr. Gerald Gordon…. If the emotions were not released, they would be turned inward and result in “suicide through stress diseases like heart disorders,” [he] said…. The basic emotions of pain, hunger, […]

  19. Come See the Earth Turn by Lori Mortensen, illustrations by Raúl Allén

    Aimed at kids age 7 to 9, this picture book shows how Léon Foucault and his pendulum demonstrated the Earth’s spin. Tricycle Press, 2010, 32 p., $17.99.

  20. Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson

    In what he calls a “natural history of innovation,” a science writer identifies patterns throughout history, mining the past for lessons in creativity. Riverhead Books, 2010, 336 p., $26.95.

  21. Escape from the Ivory Tower by Nancy Baron

    A communications expert gives scientists a practical guide to making their work better understood. Island Press, 2010, 272 p., $27.50.

  22. What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly

    By viewing technology as an organism, a tech journalist projects how new devices might evolve. Viking, 2010, 336 p., $27.95.

  23. Book Review: Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All by Paul A. Offit

    Review by Nathan Seppa.

  24. Book Review: Written in Stone: Evolution, the Fossil Record, and Our Place in Nature by Brian Switek

    Review by Sid Perkins.

  25. Tradition, innovation and hope in new year for science

    With this issue, Science News journeys into its 90th year. In 1921, Science Service was founded to share the unfolding new world of scientific discovery with America. Initially a mimeographed sheet known as the Science News-Letter, first published in 1922, the publication reported on such historic events and discoveries as the Scopes “Monkey Trial” in […]

  26. 2010 Science News of the Year: Matter & Energy

    Approaching the island of stability Smashing together the elements calcium-48, with 20 protons, and berkelium-249, with 97, has produced superheavy atoms containing 117 protons, albeit for a tiny sliver of a second (SN: 4/24/10, p. 15). Temporarily known as ununseptium, the new element fills an empty spot in the periodic table between the previously discovered […]

  27. Astronomy

    2010 Science News of the Year: Atom & Cosmos

  28. 2010 Science News of the Year: Numbers

    The Tao of traffic lights When a traffic light goes green can seem to hinge on whimsy rather than the number of vehicles waiting. Scientists propose speeding up traffic by making signals go with the flow (SN: 10/23/10, p. 8). Inspired by the movement of crowds through narrow spaces such as doorways, Swiss and German […]

  29. 2010 Science News of the Year: Body & Brain

    Credit: © Bettmann/Corbis Gene therapy moves forward Despite their promise, technologies to correct defective genes have been plagued by safety problems leading to unintended — and sometimes fatal — outcomes. But scientists are inching toward safer, more effective gene therapies that may one day treat a range of diseases, from psychiatric disorders to autoimmune diseases […]

  30. 2010 Science News of the Year: Technology

    Credit: Michael Morgenstern Lie detectors blend fact and fiction Devices that can discern honest statements from lies are much sought after, especially since a 2003 National Research Council report concluded that traditional polygraphs flag stress, not deception. But newer gadgets increasingly used by police departments and other agencies don’t tell fact from fiction either, researchers […]

  31. 2010 Science News of the Year: Humans

    Credit: Y. Haile-Selassie et al/PNAS 2010 Extreme makeover for Lucy’s kind Recent fossil discoveries suggest that the early hominid species represented by the famous bones of Lucy, who lived 3.2 million years ago in Ethiopia, may have been more like modern humans than previously thought. The skeleton of a 3.6-million-year-old male of the same species, […]

  32. 2010 Science News of the Year: Genes & Cells

    Credit: © Joe McNally/reconstruction by Kennis and Kennis Gene sequencing for all, even Neandertals An unprecedented picture of life’s diversity is emerging as researchers publish the full genetic instruction books of a growing list of species — including one that has been extinct for more than 30,000 years. A project sequencing Neandertal DNA harvested from […]

  33. 2010 Science News of the Year: Molecules

    Credit: Happy Little Nomad/Wikimedia Commons Gimme an F Chlorophyll, the pigment that makes the world go ’round, has come in four known flavors for more than 60 years: chlorophylls a, b, c and d. Now scientists have discovered another version of the pigment that allows plants and other photosynthesizing organisms to harness sunlight for making […]

  34. 2010 Science News of the Year: Earth

    Credit: Alvaro Ybarra Zavala/Getty Images Inside the Haiti quake Some 230,000 Haitians died when a magnitude-7 earthquake struck just outside Port-au-Prince on the afternoon of January 12. Scientists from around the world scrambled to the scene (SN Online: 1/16/10) to assess which fault had ruptured and whether more people were at risk. Early ideas held […]

  35. 2010 Science News of the Year: Nutrition

    Credit: Krasowit/Shutterstock Fish oil packs a punch Omega-3 fatty acids are turning up in plenty of promising reports, but some tests fail to show a benefit. Reported anti-inflammatory effects of the compound may help to shake out just how these nutrients boost health. High levels of omega-3s are found in fish oil from cold-water species […]

  36. 2010 Science News of the Year: Science & Society

    Credit: Ayimages/Istockphoto Vaccine link to autism dismissed In February, Lancet formally retracted a 1998 study that had kindled a storm of opposition to vaccines (SN Online: 2/3/10). The research suggested that autism arose in a handful of children after the kids received shots to prevent measles, mumps and rubella. The study’s lead author committed several […]


    A year ago, most geneticists had all but dismissed the notion that humans and Neandertals interbred. But with the cataloging of the full Neandertal genome, announced in May, we now know that people of European and Asian descent really have inherited a small percentage of their DNA from a rival species that went extinct about […]

  38. 2010 Science News of the Year: Environment

    Credit: NASA Earth Observatory Gulf drilling disaster The biggest oil spill in U.S. history began April 20, when an explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling platform sent oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico at rates at times exceeding 65,000 barrels a day (SN Online: 9/23/10). By the time the well was […]

  39. 2010 Science News of the Year: Life

    Credit: Javier García Warming changes how and where animals live New concerns have emerged about how climate warming might challenge animals and change the way they go about their lives. For example, a coalition of lizard specialists suggests that by midcentury a third of lizard populations won’t have enough time for foraging or other vital […]

  40. Letters

    Quality check Thank you for great reporting. I’m a longtime subscriber to Science News (since the 1970s) and want to compliment your reporters, writers and editors on the high quality of your articles, which often involve material that is difficult to explain. They make the news of science understandable, informative and entertaining. Hopefully, publications like […]

  41. Science Future for January 1, 2011

    January 3 – 4The Quadrantid meteor shower peaks. Look east and up between midnight and dawn. Visit www.seasky.org/sky.html for more information. January 8 Test engineering skills in a LEGO Building Challenge in Portland, Ore. See www.omsi.edu January 11 – 20 Preschoolers experiment with the rainbow’s colors at Phoenix’s Arizona Science Center. See www.azscience.org

  42. From Jars to the Stars by Todd Neff

    by An engaging history recounts how the Ball Brothers Co. went from making mason jars to building the Deep Impact spacecraft. Earthview Media, 2010, 327 p., $24.95.