Vol. 177 No. #1
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More Stories from the January 2, 2010 issue

  1. Chemistry

    Elusive triangular snowflakes explained

    Dust particles,wind and aerodynamics could steer some snowflakes toward a three-sided fate

  2. Anthropology

    Contested signs of mass cannibalism

    A new study yields controversial evidence of mass cannibalism in central Europe 7,000 years ago.

  3. Life

    Bird feeding, migration could be splitting a species

    German birds that spend the off-season at U.K. birdfeeders now look slightly different from neighbors that migrate to Spain

  4. Health & Medicine

    Targeting microRNA knocks out hepatitis C

    Blocking a small molecule, a new drug reduces levels of the virus, chimp study shows.

  5. Space

    Black hole may construct its own galactic home

    Observations of a ‘homeless’ quasar suggest new ideas for galaxy formation.

  6. Physics

    Chink found in armor of perfect cloak

    A theoretical perfect cloaking device could be foiled using charged particles, a new study suggests.

  7. Health & Medicine

    Patients deficient in vitamin D fare worse in battle with lymphoma

    A new study suggests that the sunshine vitamin may play protective role against common form of the blood cancer.

  8. Health & Medicine

    H1N1 hits sickle cell kids hard

    Cases particularly acute in children with the chronic blood condition.

  9. Life

    Bacteria seen swimming the electron shuffle

    Researchers have captured the bacterium Shewanella’s behavior on film, and the microbes didn’t behave as expected

  10. Chemistry

    Batteries made from nanotubes … and paper

    Scientists have made batteries and supercapacitors with little more than ordinary office paper and some carbon and silver nanomaterials.

  11. Psychology

    Depression medication may offer mood lift via personality shift

    A new study suggests that commonly used antidepressants may work after first altering personality traits.

  12. Life

    Model for powerful flu fighters from existing drugs

    Computer screening mines inventory of existing drugs to find possible new drugs that the H1N1 and H5N1 flu viruses just wouldn’t be able to resist.

  13. Health & Medicine

    Best choice for chronic leukemia treatment may change

    A newer treatment outperforms current frontline drug Gleevec in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia and an older drug may plug gap in coverage.

  14. Earth

    The big spill: Flood could have filled Mediterranean in less than two years

    Discovery of a distinctive channel and new calculations of possible water movement suggest a fast and furious flow formed the sea.

  15. Chemistry

    Clever way to break the nitrogen-nitrogen bond

    New chemical reaction cleaves dinitrogen molecule and brings carbon and nitrogen together.

  16. Life

    Giant panda genome unveiled

    DNA clues suggest little inbreeding, surprise on the bamboo diet.

  17. Space

    Experiment detects particles of dark matter, maybe

    Events in underground experiment too few for certainty, but match the signature of WIMPs.

  18. Science Future for January 2, 2010

    January 13–16Members of several mathematical societies meet for a joint conference in San Francisco. See www.ams.org January 20–22Experts in various disciplines meet in Washington, D.C., to discuss greening the economy. See ncseonline.org/conference/greeneconomy January 27 Intel Science Talent Search finalists are announced. See www.societyforscience.org

  19. Viruses, Plagues, & History: Past, Present, and Future by Michael B.A. Oldstone

    An immunobiologist describes how microbes have shaped history and may affect the future. Oxford University Press, 2009, 383 p., $17.95. VIRUSES, PLAGUES, & HISTORY: PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE BY MICHAEL B.A. OLDSTONE

  20. Seasick: Ocean Change and the Extinction of Life on Earth by Alanna Mitchell

    Ocean degradation is widespread and portends trouble for life on dry land, a journalist argues. University of Chicago Press, 2009, 161 p., $25. SEASICK: OCEAN CHANGE AND THE EXTINCTION OF LIFE ON EARTH BY ALANNA MITCHELL

  21. Mr. Jefferson and the Giant Moose: Natural History in Early America by Lee Alan Dugatkin

    For the third American president, natural history was a matter of national pride. University of Chicago Press, 2009, 166 p., $26. MR. JEFFERSON AND THE GIANT MOOSE: NATURAL HISTORY IN EARLY AMERICA BY LEE ALAN DUGATKIN

  22. Take-Home Physics: 65 High-Impact, Low-Cost Labs by Michael Horton

    A former physics teacher offers ideas for home-based experiments that are appropriate for high school students. NSTA Press, 2009, 295 p., $24.95. TAKE-HOME PHYSICS: 65 HIGH-IMPACT, LOW-COST LABS BY MICHAEL HORTON

  23. Book Review: The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe by Theodore Gray

    Review by Janet Raloff.

  24. Book Review: The Three Cultures: Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and the Humanities in the 21st Century by Jerome Kagan

    Review by Rachel Zelkowitz.

  25. STEM talent: Moving beyond traditional boundaries

    Our future belongs to a new breed of science, technology, engineering and math talent — decidedly different minds that will use the transformative power of science and technology to advance the human condition. STEPHANIE PACE MARSHALL “The nature and quality of our thinking shape who we become.” Photography by Feltes In this age of escalating […]

  26. Math

    2009 Science News of the Year: Numbers

    Detroit Tigers second baseman Placido Polanco, a 2009 Gold Glove winner, applies the tag as Chicago White Sox’s Gordon Beckham slides into second. Image credit: Duane Burleson – file The stats on fielding Astute baseball fans know who has the golden glove, but assigning a number to a player’s defensive merits has been tricky. Benjamin […]

  27. Life

    2009 Science News of the Year: Genes & Cells

    Cancer-fighting roles Scientists have discovered a new role in cancer protection for an already well-known tumor suppressor protein. The protein, called p53, protects cells from becoming cancerous by sensing stress and either shutting down cell division or triggering cell death. Researchers at the University of Tokyo and colleagues have discovered that p53 also plays a […]

  28. Life

    2009 Science News of the Year: Life

    Breeding records for sheep on Hirta offer an unusual opportunity to study inheritance. Image Credit: Arpat Ozgul Gentler winters shrink sheepWarming has trumped the benefits of fat to shrink sheep on the remote North Atlantic island of Hirta, a new analytical approach has revealed (SN: 8/1/09, p. 12). Weights for wild female Soay sheep dropped […]

  29. Health & Medicine

    2009 Science News of the Year: Body & Brain

    Numbers of passengers arriving from Mexico in March and April 2008 show which cities would have been most vulnerable to H1N1 transmission. Credit : The New England Journal of Medicine ©2009 H1N1 strikes and spreads Like the years 1957 and 1968, 2009 will be known as a pandemic flu year. The springtime eruption of a […]

  30. Physics

    2009 Science News of the Year: Matter & Energy

    First programmable quantum computer Ultracold beryllium ions are at the heart of the first programmable quantum computer, an advance that brings scientists closer to harnessing the power of quantum systems for general computing. The new system, researchers report in Nature Physics, flexed its versatility by performing 160 randomly chosen processing routines (SN: 12/19/09, p. 13).  […]

  31. Health & Medicine

    2009 Science News of the Year: Nutrition

    Natural vanilla extract comes from pods (shown), but most vanillin is synthesized in the lab. Credit: De-Kay/istockphoto That yeast smells good Yeast has long been pressed into service for making beer and bread. Now the fungus has been tapped for a loftier flavor: vanillin, vanilla’s dominant compound (SN: 5/23/09, p. 9). Natural vanilla comes from […]

  32. Chemistry

    2009 Science News of the Year: Molecules

    Tangles of collagen IV chains link at globules via sulfur-nitrogen bonding (illustrated above). Credit: Courtesy of Science/AAAS New bond in the basementBasements house hidden treasures — including a chemical bond never before seen in living things. Scientists have discovered that collagen fibers in the basement membrane — a tough, structural layer of cells that surrounds […]

  33. Earth

    2009 Science News of the Year: Earth

  34. Earth

    2009 Science News of the Year: Environment

    Recent monitoring (from a gondola in Washington state, shown) reveals that rates of tree death are up. Credit: Univ. of Washington Routine tree deaths doubled Small background rates of everyday tree death have doubled in old-growth, western forests since 1955, possibly because of climate change, researchers report (SN: 2/14/09, p. 8). In 76 plots with […]

  35. Tech

    2009 Science News of the Year: Technology

    A polymer doped with a color-changing molecule turns red seconds before snapping. Credit: D. Stevenson, A. Jerez, A. Hamilton, D. Davis About to breakEngineers one day may not need to guess when a bridge is near its breaking point. New materials that flush red in response to damage may provide a visual warning sign of […]

  36. Humans

    2009 Science News of the Year: Science & Society

    Activists plead for a new agreement during the 2007 U.N. Climate Change Conference. Credit: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images Leaders warm to climate action Throughout the year, global leaders used various summits around the world to declare their intention to take firm, though often unilateral, action to reduce their nations’ carbon footprints. In December, negotiators from more […]

  37. 2009 Science News of the Year

    Brevity is in. If what you have to say can’t be delivered in 140 characters or less, you should reconsider your message — or so it seems in a world agog with texting and Twitter. Compiling Science News’ annual list of scientific highlights brought home the good and bad of this trend. Indeed, some of […]

  38. Humans

    2009 Science News of the Year: Humans

    An artist’s illustration shows how a female Ardipithecus may have looked. An analysis of Ardi’s bones, uncovered from 1992 through 1997, was released this year. Credit: J.H. Matternes Ardi puts new spin on hominid evolution A 4.4-million-year-old partial female skeleton discovered in Africa, along with fossils from at least 36 of her comrades, provide the […]

  39. Space

    2009 Science News of the Year: Atom & Cosmos

    A post-crash plume kicked up from the moon contained vapor and ice. NASA crashed an unmanned spacecraft into the lunar surface on October 9 in order to analyze the resulting debris for signs of water. Image Credit: NASA Water on the moonThe moon isn’t bone dry: Although planetary scientists had suspected as much for years, […]

  40. Letters

    Outsized beaver Accompanying your recent article about giant extinct beavers (“Ancient beavers did not eat trees,” SN: 11/21/09, p. 10), there is an illustration that seems to show that the extinct beaver was about twice the length of a present-day beaver. I measured each from nose to the base of the tail rather than to […]

  41. Science Past from the issue of January 2, 1960

    MORE JOBS THAN MEN IS PICTURE FOR ENGINEERS — The college engineer market, subject to the fickle swing of the employment pendulum, will be getting a good picking over by industry in the early 1960’s when demand for engineering graduates will exceed supply. The Engineering Manpower and Scientific Manpower Commissions reported that industries intend to […]

  42. The Math Book by Clifford A. Pickover

    An illustrated timeline showcases great mathematicians and  mathematical achievements throughout history. Sterling, 2009, 527 p., $29.95. THE MATH BOOK BY CLIFFORD A. PICKOVER