Vol. 180 No. #8

More Stories from the October 8, 2011 issue

  1. Climate

    El Niños may inflame civil unrest

    Weather extremes associated with this climate phenomenon appear to double the risk that conflict will erupt in any given year.

  2. Humans

    Beneficial liaisons

    DNA gift from our extinct cousins not only lives on in people today, but helps people today live on.

  3. Humans

    Willpower endures

    A person's ability to resist temptation stays constant throughout life, study suggests.

  4. Life

    Belly bacteria boss the brain

    One type of gut microbe sends antianxiety messages through the vagus nerve, changing the behavior of mice.

  5. Tech

    Mining electronic records yields connections between diseases

    Mining patient records, combined with molecular research, may reveal new links among medical conditions.

  6. Health & Medicine

    Saffron takes on cancer

    The yellow spice inhibits liver cancer growth, tests in rats show.

  7. Humans

    Oldest hand axes found

    Homo erectus may have made both advanced and simple tools 1.76 million years ago.

  8. Life

    Woolly rhinos came down from the cold

    Ice Age icons were already adapted to harsh climate, new fossils suggest.

  9. Physics

    A lighter Higgs, but chase continues

    Target narrows after LHC experiments suggest a new lower estimated mass for the elusive particle.

  10. Paleontology

    Acidifying oceans helped fuel mass extinction

    The great die-off 250 million years ago could trace in part to hostile water conditions, a modeling study suggests.

  11. Health & Medicine

    Brain stents pose risks

    Devices to prop open narrowed vessels appear to raise the risk of death or stroke compared with medicines alone, a study finds.

  12. Earth

    Earthly riches heaven sent

    A period of heavy meteorite bombardment after Earth's formation may have peppered Earth's outer layers with useful metals.

  13. Space

    Super-Earths may come in two flavors

    As more exoplanets are discovered, evidence emerges that worlds can be either fluffy or dense.

  14. Humans


    Footprinting crime scenes, wine refueling stations for King Tut and more in this week’s news.

  15. Life

    Dinosaur-era feathers sealed in amber

    The richest collection yet of primordial plumage preserves pigment and fine details found modern birds.

  16. SN Online

    ENVIRONMENT Plastics sloughed off clothing can pollute coastlines. See “Synthetic lint ends up in oceans.” G.D. Rak et al/PLoS Biology 2011 Arctic sea ice this year was near its smallest extent on record. Read “Summer Arctic melt among worst ever.” GENES & CELLS Natural killer cells are caught in the act of feeding poison pills […]

  17. Science Past from the issue of October 7, 1961

    CHEAPER WATER FROM SEA — Lower cost conversion of undrinkable sea or brackish water to potable fresh water will come closer to practicality through use of $75,000,000 appropriated by Congress for the next six years. Lowest cost achieved so far is one dollar per thousand gallons compared with the cost from ordinary sources of 30¢ […]

  18. Ancient Rome forbade downtown traffic in day

    Roman road congestion is as enduring as the Eternal City.

  19. Brain Bugs: How the Brain’s Flaws Shape Our Lives by Dean Buonomano

    A neuroscientist gives an entertaining look into the brain’s hardware and software flaws and how they affect everyday life. W.W. Norton & Co., 2011, 310 p., $25.95

  20. The Exquisite Butterfly Companion: The Science and Beauty of 100 Butterflies by Hazel Davies

    This guide to 100 butterfly and moth species comes with a set of butterfly-shaped illustrations to use in craft projects. Sterling Signature, 2011, 88 p., $14.95

  21. Cosmos Close-up by Giles Sparrow

    A collection of astronomical images taken by telescopes and spacecraft of all kinds gives brief explanations of the science behind each highlighted object. Firefly Books, 2011, 320 p., $29.95

  22. The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us by Jeffrey Kluger

    A review of recent research shows how siblings affect each other, covering topics such as birth order, blended families and parents who play favorites. Riverhead Books, 2011, 320 p., $26.95

  23. BOOK REVIEW: Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World by Emma Marris

    What does it mean to be wild, and can humans restore wildness to a planet they’ve spent their history trying to tame? Marris hauls out a wheelbarrow-load of research indicating that humans have altered nearly every inch of the terrestrial landscape at one time or another (even ignoring the global transport of air pollutants and […]

  24. BOOK REVIEW: Epigenetics: The Ultimate Mystery of Inheritance by Richard C. Francis

    For more than 10 years, scientists have known nearly every letter in the human genetic instruction book. But perhaps more interesting than those letters are the doodles in the margins and the highlighted passages — chemical modifications to DNA and its associated proteins known as epigenetic marks. These scribbles may actually control how genes function, […]

  25. Health & Medicine

    The Probabilistic Mind

    Humans live in a world of uncertainty. A shadowy figure on the sidewalk ahead could be a friend or a mugger. By flooring your car’s accelerator, you might beat the train to the intersection, or maybe not. Last week’s leftover kung pao chicken could bring another night of gustatory delight or gut agony. Lee Williams/flickr/getty […]

  26. Planetary Science

    Fertile Frontiers

    The solar system’s spotted bully and its ringed sidekick are holding some tantalizing treasures in their gravitational clutches. Circling Jupiter and Saturn are more than a hundred moons, including some of the most promising hosts for extraterrestrial life in the solar system. Some scientists rank the Saturnian moon Enceladus as the best place in the […]

  27. Life

    Singled Out

    Fly over any baseball stadium when the home-team batter slams a double in the gap with two men on base, and you’ll see a crowd of fans rising in unison, arms waving wildly in the air. You’d think you were viewing typical baseball fan behavior. Despite being kept in the same lab conditions, these human […]

  28. Letters

    Lowdown on Earth’s heat “Science Stats” (SN: 8/27/11, p. 4) understates the power Earth radiates into space and mistakenly suggests that Earth radiates more energy from internal sources than it receives from the sun. The total (44 trillion watts) shown in your diagram must represent only the minuscule percentage (about 0.02 percent) from internal energy […]

  29. Science Future for October 8, 2011

    October 16Comet Elenin comes its closest to Earth and may be visible with binoculars. See NASA’s FAQ at 1.usa.gov/oeX6hP October 31Deadline for middle schoolers to enter the Future City engineering competition. Learn more at www.futurecity.org October 18Get hands-on at the American Museum of Natural History’s Family Party in New York City. See amnh.org/familyparty

  30. The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World by David Deutsch

    A physicist explores the elaborate relationship between science and other realms of human endeavor, with a focus on physical, biological and social phenomena. Viking, 2011, 487 p., $30