Vol. 177 No. #3

More Stories from the January 30, 2010 issue

  1. Life

    Cancer plaguing Tasmanian devils began in one animal’s nerve cells

    Genetics provide a starting point for diagnosis and potential vaccines.

  2. Space

    New-found galaxies may be farthest back in time and space yet

    Potential finding uses data that push limits of current technology.

  3. Space

    Kepler space telescope finds its first extrasolar planets

    The NASA mission uncovers one Neptune-like and four Jupiter-like bodies.

  4. Space

    Plenty of black holes do-si-do

    Team finds 33 merging galaxies with 'waltzing' black-hole pairs, suggesting the phenomenon is more common than thought.

  5. Earth

    Footprints could push back tetrapod origins

    Newly discovered trackways much older than previous evidence for sea-to-land transition.

  6. Health & Medicine

    New test could discern serious condition early after bone marrow transplant

    Protein level in blood reveals graft-versus-host disease, may indicate severity of this complication

  7. Space

    WISE sees its first stars

    NASA's new infrared observatory is ready for action.

  8. Life

    Bornavirus genes found in human DNA

    Researchers have found molecular fossils of an RNA virus in human and other mammalian genomes, pushing back the emergence of RNA viruses millions of years.

  9. Space

    Gamma-ray burst may reveal some of oldest dust in the universe

    Remote flash may have uncovered supernova-generated dust from just 1 billion years after the Big Bang

  10. Physics

    Symmetry found hidden in supercold atoms

    Scientists have detected an elusive, complex symmetry in the frequencies of resonating particles

  11. Life

    Fruit fly bodies bank stem cells

    Stem cells carve their own niches.

  12. Archaeology

    Ancient hominids may have been seafarers

    Researchers have discovered hundreds of African-style stone hand axes on Crete, suggesting that sea-going hominids reached the island hundreds of thousands of years ago en route to Europe.

  13. Health & Medicine

    Skip spine stabilization and get to the hospital

    Gunshot victims may be more likely to survive if they get to the hospital quickly instead of getting spine stabilization first.

  14. Humans

    Copenhagen climate summit yields ‘real deal’ to limit greenhouse gases

    COPENHAGEN — Last month, after two weeks of heated — at times, intensely inflammatory — talks, representatives of 193 nations agreed to a bare-bones framework for an international treaty to curtail global warming. But even its proponents admit it falls short of what’s needed. The Copenhagen Accord, named for the Danish city in which it […]

  15. Humans

    Graffiti on the walls in Pompeii

    ANAHEIM, Calif. — Well-off homeowners living in the Roman city of Pompeii more than 2,000 years ago could read the writing on their own walls, and apparently didn’t mind the spontaneous scrawling. Citizens of Pompeii scratched out graffiti on the walls of private residences to share creative greetings, welcomes and salutations to friends, Rebecca Benefiel […]

  16. Humans

    Zeus’ altar of ashes

    ANAHEIM, Calif. — Excavations at the Sanctuary of Zeus atop Greece’s Mount Lykaion have revealed that ritual activities occurred there for roughly 1,500 years, from the height of classic Greek civilization around 3,400 years ago until just before Roman conquest in 146. “We may have the first documented mountaintop shrine from the ancient Greek world,” […]

  17. Science Future by January 30, 2010

    February 20–21 Free science discussion sessions and demos are open to the public at the AAAS annual meeting in San Diego. See www.aaas.org/meetings/2010  February 24–26 The International Stroke Conference 2010 is held in San Antonio. See strokeconference.org March 31 New nomination deadline for the 2010 National Medal of Science. Get forms at www.nsf.gov/od/nms/medal.jsp

  18. Laboratory Disease: Robert Koch’s Medical Bacteriology by Christoph Gradmann and Elborg Forster, translator

    A science historian examines the origins of the field of medical bacteriology and the life of one of its founders. Laboratory Disease: Robert Koch’s Medical Bacteriology by Christoph Gradmann and Elborg Forster, translator Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009, 318 p., $35.

  19. Understanding Solid State Physics by Sharon Ann Holgate

    The authors explain basic physics principles with undergraduates in mind. UNDERSTANDING SOLID STATE PHYSICS BY SHARON ANN HOLGATE CRC Press, 2010, 349 p., $79.95.

  20. The Nature Study Movement by Kevin C. Armitage

    A scholar describes the amateur naturalists of the late 19th century and their influence on modern environmentalism. THE NATURE STUDY MOVEMENT BY KEVIN C. ARMITAGE University Press of Kansas, 2009, 291 p., $34.95.

  21. Turtles: The Animal Answer Guide by Whit Gibbons and Judy Greene

    Turtle experts address 100 or so of the most common questions about these reptiles. TURTLES: THE ANIMAL ANSWER GUIDE BY WHIT GIBBONS AND JUDY GREENE Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009, 163 p., $24.95.

  22. Book Review: Communicating Science: Professional, Popular, Literary by Nicholas Russell

    Books about science communication typically start from the premise that communication is important and proceed to tell scientists how to do it better. Russell’s book departs from that tradition to analyze the history of such communication and look at how views of its importance have changed over time. The result is a fascinating exploration of […]

  23. Book Review: The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved & Why It Endures by Nicholas Wade

    Several recent best sellers in the natural and social sciences have portrayed religious belief as irrational and even downright harmful. In his new book, Wade gives faith a reprieve. He argues that religion served crucial purposes in ancient societies and, via evolution, became ingrained in the human brain. Wade offers a respectful outlook on humanity’s […]

  24. Energy, safety and nuclear capabilities intertwined

    On January 1, Charles D. Ferguson became president of the Federation of American Scientists, a nongovernmental organization founded in 1945 by Manhattan Project scientists to promote humanitarian uses of science and technology. Ferguson worked at FAS 10 years ago as director of its nuclear policy project, and he returns after working from 2004 to 2009 […]

  25. Let there be light

    In the beginning, the brain was a dark and shapeless void. LET THERE BE LIGHT Neurons (illustrated) made to produce certain proteins can be activated by light. Pasieka/Science Photo Library/Getty Images PROTEIN POWER Optogeneticists use the light-activated protein channelrhodopsin-2, made by Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (shown). Pascal Goetgheluck/Photo Researchers, Inc. FLIPPING THE SWTICH With light, a team […]

  26. Dressing up dinos

    Fossils of an ancient animal don’t typically include much more than the creature’s hard parts — sometimes intact, but often shattered to smithereens. Lucky paleontologists may stumble upon a well-preserved, nearly complete skeleton that offers a rough idea of an animal’s size and shape. But fossils that preserve soft tissues — skin, flesh, feathers — […]

  27. The final chemistry frontier

    The landscape could be the backdrop of a post­apocalyptic film. It’s an environment of extremes, blasted by intense radiation, fierce winds and shock waves from violent explosions. Yet within this desolation, species persist. Not only are there ordinary, familiar faces, there is also, evidence suggests, a motley crew: galactic gangs that would make Mad Max […]

  28. Letters

    Thinking animals An interesting article, but the question of human consciousness seems no closer to solution in “Humans wonder, anybody home?” by Susan Gaidos (SN: 12/19/09, p. 22) than it did in Julian Jaynes’ The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind of 1976. It seems to me that all the mental […]

  29. Science Past from the issue of January 30, 1960

    SAFE SEASONINGS NAMED — Some 150 seasonings and flavorings — ranging from the familiar cinnamon to exotic “ylang-ylang” — have been put on the safe list, the Food and Drug Administration has announced. Manufacturers who use these flavors in their food products need not furnish further proof of their safety. The list includes cloves, nutmeg, […]

  30. Write an Effective Funding Application: A Guide for Researchers & Scholars by Mary W. Walters

    A step-by-step guide to creating successful funding proposals. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009, 151 p., $22. WRITE AN EFFECTIVE FUNDING APPLICATION: A GUIDE FOR RESEARCHERS & SCHOLARS BY MARY W. WALTERS