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Vol. 200 No. 7

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More Stories from the October 9, 2021 issue

  1. Anthropology

    50 years ago, X-rays revealed what ancient Egyptians kept under wraps

    In the 1970s, scientists used X-rays to unravel mummy secrets. Now, advances in technology are providing unprecedented views of ancient Egyptians.

    By
  2. The newly described Hispaniolan vineboa
    Animals

    A newfound boa sports big eyes and a square nose

    Among the smallest boas in the world, the Hispaniolan vineboa inhabits a small patch of dry forest along the Dominican Republic’s border with Haiti.

    By
  3. doctors tend to a COVID-19 patient in a hospital bed
    Health & Medicine

    These charts show that COVID-19 vaccines are doing their job

    COVID-19 shots may not always prevent infections, but for now, they are keeping the vast majority of vaccinated people out of the hospital.

    By
  4. illustration of a supernova
    Cosmology

    Astronomers may have seen a star gulp down a black hole and explode

    It took sleuthing through data collected by a variety of observatories to piece together the first firm evidence of a theorized cosmic phenomenon.

    By
  5. a cow enters a bathroom stall
    Agriculture

    Potty-trained cattle could help reduce pollution

    About a dozen calves have been trained to pee in a stall. Toilet training cows on a large scale could cut down on pollution, researchers say.

    By
  6. Jubbah oasis
    Anthropology

    Stone Age humans or their relatives occasionally trekked through a green Arabia

    Hominids periodically inhabited ancient Arabia starting around 400,000 years ago when lakes temporarily formed as a result of monsoons, a study finds.

    By
  7. Baby wearing yellow, laughing with head tilted upwards
    Life

    Infants may laugh like some apes in their first months of life

    Laughter seems to change over life’s early months, perhaps influenced by the unconscious feedback parents give when they play with their little ones.

    By
  8. bluish-green beam forming a spiral
    Physics

    New ‘vortex beams’ of atoms and molecules are the first of their kind

    Twisted beams of atoms and molecules join other types of corkscrew beams made of light or electrons.

    By
  9. rocks on Mars with drilled holes from NASA's Perseverance rover
    Planetary Science

    NASA’s Perseverance rover snagged its first Martian rock samples

    Two tubes of stone drilled from a basalt rock nicknamed Rochette are the first from Mars slated to eventually return to Earth.

    By
  10. a black background highlights several galaxies, with a half-circle orange arc
    Astronomy

    A supernova’s delayed reappearance could pin down how fast the universe expands

    “SN Requiem” should reappear in the 2030s and help determine the universe’s expansion rate.

    By
  11. flames and smoke billow from trees in the Amazon
    Life

    Fires may have affected up to 85 percent of threatened Amazon species

    Since 2001, fires in the Amazon have impacted up to about 190,000 square kilometers — roughly the size of Washington state.

    By
  12. an ancient hide scraping tool shown at three different angles
    Archaeology

    Stone Age people used bone scrapers to make leather and pelts

    African cave finds include remains of skinned creatures and hide scrapers made from animal ribs.

    By
  13. a leaf-cutting ant, with sharp mandibles visible
    Animals

    How metal-infused jaws give some ants an exceptionally sharp bite

    Some small animals make cuts, tears and punctures that they couldn’t otherwise do using body parts reinforced with metals such as zinc and manganese.

    By
  14. looking out over icy, flat terrain with sun in sky
    Earth

    How AI can help forecast how much Arctic sea ice will shrink

    Trained on sea ice observations and climate simulations, IceNet is 95 percent accurate in forecasting sea ice extent two months in advance.

    By
  15. skull bones from an ancient Indonesian woman
    Anthropology

    Ancient DNA shows the peopling of Southeast Asian islands was surprisingly complex

    Ancient DNA from a hunter-gatherer skeleton points to earlier-than-expected human arrivals on Southeast Asian islands known as Wallacea.

    By