Vol. 196 No. 7
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More Stories from the October 12, 2019 issue

  1. Climate

    Abigail Swann’s alternate Earths show how plants shape climate

    Abigail Swann's studies reveal that water vapor from forests can affect drought patterns a hemisphere away.

  2. Physics

    Andrea Young uncovers the strange physics of 2-D materials

    Physicist Andrea Young has set his sights on the strange ways electrons behave in flat, layered structures.

  3. Chemistry

    Brett McGuire searches space for the chemistry of life

    The complex molecules Brett McGuire has discovered in interstellar space may point to the origins of carbon-based life.

  4. Climate

    Malin Pinsky seeks to explain how climate change alters ocean life

    As global temperatures rise, Malin Pinsky’s research attempts to understand how marine ecosystems are changing and why.

  5. Neuroscience

    Maryam Shanechi designs machines to read minds

    Maryam Shanechi creates computer programs that link brain and machine to one day help patients with paralysis or psychiatric disorders.

  6. Life

    Michelle O’Malley seeks greener chemistry through elusive fungi

    Michelle O’Malley studies anaerobic gut fungi, microbes that could help make chemicals and fuels from sustainable sources.

  7. Physics

    Monika Schleier-Smith leads elaborate quantum conversations

    Monika Schleier-Smith forces atoms to interact in ways that could offer insights into quantum computing, precision timekeeping and perhaps black holes.

  8. Science & Society

    Parag Pathak uses data and algorithms to make public education fairer

    Economist Parag Pathak has overhauled school choice systems across the United States. Now he’s assessing what makes for a good education.

  9. Health & Medicine

    Seth Shipman recorded a movie in DNA — and that’s just the beginning

    Seth Shipman is developing tools that may reveal hidden biological processes.

  10. Genetics

    Stanley Qi gives CRISPR a makeover to redefine genetic engineering

    By adapting CRISPR/Cas9, Stanley Qi has given genetic engineers a plethora of new tools.

  11. Life

    We’ve lost 3 billion birds since 1970 in North America

    Scientists estimated the change in total number of individual birds since 1970. They found profound losses spread among rare and common birds alike.

  12. Earth

    How Kilauea’s lava fed a massive phytoplankton bloom

    Kilauea’s heavy flow of lava into the ocean in 2018 added both food and heat to fuel a sudden bloom of ocean algae.

  13. Space

    The Milky Way’s supermassive black hole reached record brightness this year

    The big black hole at the center of the galaxy recently flared twice as bright as ever seen before in near-infrared wavelengths.

  14. Astronomy

    This may be the first known exoplanet with rain and clouds of water droplets

    For the first time, astronomers have detected water vapor and possibly signs of clouds and even rain in the air of a potentially habitable exoplanet.

  15. Quantum Physics

    Rumors hint that Google has accomplished quantum supremacy

    Reports suggest a quantum computer has bested standard computers on one type of calculation, but practical applications are still a distant goal.

  16. Tech

    A new prosthetic leg that senses touch reduces phantom pain

    A prosthetic leg that can sense foot pressure and knee angle helped two men walk faster and reduced phantom leg pain.

  17. Agriculture

    Birds fed a common pesticide lost weight rapidly and had migration delays

    Scientists have previously implicated neonicotinoid pesticides in declining bee populations. Now a study suggests that songbirds are affected, too.

  18. Humans

    Supercooling tripled the shelf life of donor livers

    Cooling organs to subzero temperatures could help them last longer, making lifesaving transplants available to more people.

  19. Humans

    DNA indicates how ancient migrations shaped South Asian languages and farming

    Farming in the region may have sprung up locally, while herders from afar sparked language changes.

  20. Physics

    Gravitational waves from a ringing black hole support the no-hair theorem

    A new study of gravitational waves from merging black holes agrees with the predictions of the general theory of relativity.

  21. Planetary Science

    Astronomers have spotted a second interstellar object

    Researchers will be able to watch what appears to be an interstellar comet swoop through the solar system for about a year.

  22. Climate

    Expanding ice slabs are increasing Greenland’s contribution to sea level rise

    Since 2001, melting and refreezing have created vast ice layers near the surface that could drastically amp up meltwater runoff and sea level rise.

  23. Humans

    An island grave site hints at far-flung ties among ancient Americans

    Great Lakes and southeastern coastal hunter-gatherers had direct contact around 4,000 years ago, a study suggests.

  24. Humans

    Artists who paint with their feet have ‘toe maps’ in their brains

    Brain specialization comes with toe specialization in people who use their feet for painting, eating and writing.

  25. Tech

    This device harnesses the cold night sky to generate electricity in the dark

    A new thermoelectric generator uses the temperature difference between Earth and outer space to create electricity after the sun goes down.

  26. Health & Medicine

    Air pollution can reach the placenta around a developing baby

    A small study of women living in Belgium found soot embedded in their placental tissue.

  27. Humans

    Babies born by C-section have more potentially infectious bacteria in their guts

    Microbial mixes in babies’ guts differ depending on birth method.

  28. Sponsored Content

    Conversations with Maya: Lester Mackey

    Maya Ajmera, President & CEO of Society for Science & the Public and Publisher of Science News, sat down to chat with Lester Mackey, a statistical machine learning researcher at Microsoft Research Labs New England.

  29. Earth

    50 years ago, an Antarctic fossil pointed to Gondwanaland’s existence

    Fifty years ago, fossils from Antarctica helped seal the deal that the southern continents were once connected in one, giant landmass called Gondwanaland.

  30. Space

    ‘Imagined Life’ envisions the odd critters of other planets

    The authors of ‘Imagined Life’ rely on science to sketch out what kind of organisms might exist on exoplanets.

  31. Humans

    Ancient DNA reveals the first glimpse of what a Denisovan may have looked like

    A controversial technique reconstructs a teenage Denisovan’s physical appearance from genetics.