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More Stories from the July 16, 2022 issue

  1. photo of two sets of fences in front of the Supreme Court building
    Health & Medicine

    5 misunderstandings of pregnancy biology that cloud the abortion debate

    The Supreme Court’s scrapping of Roe v. Wade shifts decisions about related health care to states. Accurate science is often missing in those talks.

    By
  2. An orange Brachycephalus or pumpkin toadlet frog photographed from the front, showing his large black eyes.
    Animals

    Here’s why pumpkin toadlets are such clumsy jumpers

    Tiny Brachycephalus frogs from southern Brazil can leap into the air but have trouble landing.

    By
  3. I curved line of falling dominoes, toppling on each other.
    Physics

    How fast a row of dominoes topples depends on friction

    Computer simulations reveal that two types of friction are important in determining how quickly dominoes collapse.

    By
  4. illustration of a vortex ring of light
    Physics

    Scientists created ‘smoke rings’ of light

    A swirling doughnut of light shows that vortex rings aren’t just for fluids anymore.

    By
  5. young kids playing on playground equipment
    Health & Medicine

    Here’s what we know right now about getting COVID-19 again

    Repeat coronavirus infections may be on the rise as the omicron variant continues to spread. Scientists are still trying to nail down the risks.

    By
  6. illustration of galaxy A1689-zD1 showing warmer gas in yellow in the middle and cooler gas in red spreading out
    Astronomy

    An otherwise quiet galaxy in the early universe is spewing star stuff

    Seen as it was 700 million years after the Big Bang, the galaxy churns out a relatively paltry number of stars. And yet it’s heaving gas into space.

    By
  7. People wearing masks in New York City
    Science & Society

    ‘Virology’ ponders society’s relationship with viruses

    In a collection of wide-ranging essays, microbiologist Joseph Osmundson reflects on the COVID-19 pandemic and calls for “a new rhetoric of care.”

    By
  8. illustration of an isolated stellar-mass black hole
    Astronomy

    A celestial loner might be the first known rogue black hole

    The object could be the first isolated stellar-mass black hole identified in the Milky Way — or it might be an unusually heavy neutron star.

    By
  9. a drawing of the citizens of Tournai, Belgium digging graves and carrying caskets during the Black Death
    Archaeology

    Ancient bacterial DNA hints Europe’s Black Death started in Central Asia

    Archaeological and genetic data pin the origins of Europe’s 1346–1353 bubonic plague to a bacterial strain found in graves in Asia from the 1330s.

    By
  10. A polar bear stands atop glacial mélange — a floating mishmash of icebergs, sea ice fragments and snow that exists year-round
    Ecosystems

    Some polar bears in Greenland survive on surprisingly little sea ice

    “Glacial mélange” could provide a last refuge for some bears as the Earth warms, but climate action is needed to preserve the species, researchers say.

    By
  11. Microbes

    This giant bacterium is the largest one found yet

    On average, Thiomargarita magnifica measures 1 centimeter long and maxes out at 2 centimeters. It is 50 times larger than other giant bacteria.

    By
  12. yellow and black sail swallowtail butterfly on a pink flower
    Animals

    Butterflies may lose their ‘tails’ like lizards

    Fragile, tail-like projections on some butterflies' wings may be a lifesaver.

    By
  13. image of 430-million-year-old fossil of the fungus Prototaxites
    Environment

    Earth’s oldest known wildfires raged 430 million years ago

    430-million-year-old fossilized charcoal suggests atmospheric oxygen levels of at least 16 percent, the amount needed for fire to take hold and spread.

    By
  14. a cat chewing a catnip plant
    Chemistry

    Cats chewing on catnip boosts the plant’s insect-repelling powers

    When cats tear up catnip, it increases the amount of insect-repelling chemicals released by the plants.

    By
  15. Part of Google's Sycamore quantum computer
    Quantum Physics

    Quantum physics exponentially improves some types of machine learning

    It wasn’t entirely clear if quantum computers could improve machine learning in practice, but new experiments and theoretical proofs show that it can.

    By