Vol. 181 No. #11

More Stories from the June 2, 2012 issue

  1. Earth

    Stop-and-go plate tectonics

    Early on, ancient crustal plates may have dived deep into the Earth, time and again, giving a halting start to the planetary remodeling process.

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  2. Health & Medicine

    Neighborhood linked to obesity

    Children living in areas that lack walking-distance parks and supermarkets are more prone to put on weight, new studies find.

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  3. Earth

    Arctic sea emits methane

    Source of climate-warming gas remains uncertain, but might be microbes.

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  4. Life

    Bacteria, insects join forces against pesticide

    Microbes in gut, rather than genetic changes, allow insects to develop chemical resistance.

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  5. Life

    Albatross forage with fractal-like flight

    New data offer support for a modified mathematical pattern in birds’ hunting behavior.

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  6. Brain not required for antidepressant to act

    In brewer’s yeast, the drug sertraline distorts membranes and triggers a self-cannibalizing process.

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  7. Life

    Larvae sustain comb jelly population

    Species thrives in Baltic Sea despite never reaching adulthood.

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  8. Space

    Earth took a multibillion-year beating

    Asteroids pummeled the planet for billions of years as the Late Heavy Bombardment tapered off, new estimates suggest.

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  9. Health & Medicine

    Snakes swirl in blink (and jump) of an eye

    The Rotating Snakes optical illusion is preceded by blinking and tiny ocular movements, a new study shows.

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  10. Health & Medicine

    Test drug eases behavioral symptoms seen in autism

    In mouse experiments, the compound curbs repetitive behaviors and improves sociability.

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  11. Life

    Bony bacteria

    A newly described species of blue-green algae builds hard structures inside its cells.

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  12. Earth

    Oceans’ salinity changed over last half-century

    Warmer atmosphere may be to blame for changes in the water cycle.

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  13. Life

    Shot may top acupuncture for pain relief

    Carefully placed enzyme injection has a long-lasting effect in mice.

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  14. Life

    Tree cricket song has note of variability

    Wings’ length, individual segments allow species to produce mating calls in range of frequencies.

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  15. Health & Medicine

    Weight loss reduces cancer risk factor

    Indicators of inflammation drop with diet and weight loss.

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  16. Astronomy

    A star is torn

    A black hole’s stellar feast is witnessed by telescopes on Earth and in orbit.

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  17. Health & Medicine

    Protein tweak may trigger Alzheimer’s

    An unusual version of the disease-linked amyloid-beta molecule sows destruction in mouse brains.

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  18. Earth

    Study keeps pace with Greenland glaciers

    Herky-jerky motion of the island’s ice suggests that melting ice is unlikely to contribute to dramatic sea level rise this century, but the news isn’t all good.

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  19. Earth

    Big Antarctic ice sheet appears doomed

    Warming climate is expected to trigger the sudden retreat of a partially floating glacier on the continent’s western side by 2100.

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  20. Life

    Egg wars

    Eggs of cuckoo finches and tawny-flanked prinias have grown more colorful in the last 40 years — a sign that the neighbors are locked in an evolutionary arms race. EGG EVOLUTION African cuckoo finch eggs (inner circle) have evolved to closely match the colors of the tawny-flanked prinia (outer circle), a bird the cuckoo finch […]

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  21. Science Past from the issue of June 2, 1962

    SECOND U.S. ASTRONAUT — Lt. Comdr. M. Scott Carpenter was rocketed into space at 8:45 a.m., EST, on May 24 to become the second U. S. astronaut.… As one of his experiments, Astronaut Carpenter released a small, 30-inch balloon…. The idea of the experiment was to determine whether a man undergoing the rigors of weightlessness […]

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  22. SN Online

    HUMANS Learn what confidence means for group decision-making strategies in “Two heads sometimes better than one.” S. Osaki/Phys. Rev. Lett. 2012 MATTER & ENERGY A structural change in spider silk (below) makes it strong enough to string a violin. Read “Scientist fiddles with spider silk.” BODY & BRAIN A physician describes controversial anatomical evidence for […]

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  23. The neutrino messengers

    In 1844 Samuel Morse sent a telegram from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore using pulses of electrons to encode “What hath God wrought.” Now that message has gotten a reply, courtesy of physicist Kevin McFarland and a team of his colleagues. Kevin McFarland, a physicist who sent a message using neutrinos, left his mark on the […]

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  24. A World of Insects by Ring T. Cardé and Vincent H. Resh, eds.

    Two entomologists present insect essays that explore everything from insect sex to crime scene investigation. Harvard Univ., 2012, 404 p., $19.95

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  25. EarthFlight: Breathtaking Photographs from a Bird’s-Eye View of the World by John Downer

    30Cameras carried by hand, by gliders and by the creatures themselves give readers a literal bird’s-eye view of the world. Firefly Books, 2012, 240 p., $49.95

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  26. In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World by Ian Stewart

    The author tells the stories of 17 equations, from Maxwell’s equations that led to modern TV and radio to algorithms that rattled the stock market. Basic Books, 2012, 342 p., $26.99

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  27. Tutankhamen: The Search for an Egyptian King by Joyce Tyldesley

    An archaeologist explores myths surrounding the boy king and updates Tut fans on what experts have learned about his life and times. Basic Books, 2012, 316 p., $29.99

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  28. BOOK REVIEW: Chasing Venus: The Race to Measure the Heavens by Andrea Wulf

    Next time you’re having a bad day at work, consider the travails of Guillaume Le Gentil, an 18th century French astronomer. He spent more than a decade toiling over measuring the transits of Venus in 1761 and 1769. By precisely timing the planet’s passage across the face of the sun, Le Gentil hoped to contribute […]

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  29. Ecosystems

    Darwin’s Devices

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  30. Designer Flu

    Last summer, scientists performed an experiment that could have been ripped from the script of a Hollywood thriller. Sealed off in high-tech laboratories in the Netherlands and Wisconsin, researchers transformed one of the world’s most deadly viruses, transmissible by direct contact, into versions capable of spreading through the air. Two lab-made versions of the lethal […]

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  31. Storm Front

    Anyone waiting for Hurricane Irene on North Carolina’s coast last August might have been a little disappointed. As the storm barreled toward the Outer Banks, parka-clad TV meteorologists lined the beaches in anticipation. But instead of grinding ashore as powerfully as expected, Irene wimped out, hitting land with wind speeds about 10 percent weaker than […]

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  32. Letters

    Information as substrate In a recent article (“Enriched with information,” SN: 3/10/12, p. 22), you point out that some researchers consider consciousness to be a form of information. In another (“Bits of reality,” SN: 4/7/12, p. 26), you mention that increasing numbers of physicists are coming to regard information as the basic “stuff” from which […]

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  33. Science Future for June 2, 2012

    June 9 Researchers hold car washes and bake sales nationwide to raise money and bring attention to budget cuts for planetary science programs. Find out more at bit.ly/SFcarwash June 26 Learn about the science of local food at the New York Academy of Sciences in New York City. A panel discusses whether eating locally is […]

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  34. The Practical Einstein: Experiments, Patents, Inventions by József Illy

    Einstein’s papers reveal a down-to-earth side. Learn about his inventions and ideas, including waterproof breathable clothes and an explanation for rivers’ meanderings. Johns Hopkins Univ., 2012, 202 p., $60

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