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More Stories from the September 12, 2020 issue

  1. South Africa’s Border Cave
    Archaeology

    The oldest known grass beds from 200,000 years ago included insect repellents

    Found in South Africa, 200,000-year-old bedding remnants included fossilized grass, bug-repelling ash and once aromatic camphor leaves.

    By
  2. bumblebee
    Life

    Wild bees add about $1.5 billion to yields for just six U.S. crops

    Native bees help pollinate blueberries, cherries and other crops on commercial farms.

    By
  3. a microscopic image of Naegleria fowleri
    Microbes

    50 years ago, scientists were on the trail of a brain-eating amoeba

    In 1970, scientists were studying a brain-eating amoeba that had been implicated in a newfound disease. Today, infections by the parasite are still poorly understood.

    By
  4. Maya sculpture of woman holding child
    Humans

    Ancient sculptures hint at universal facial expressions across cultures

    Interpreting the emotions carved onto sculptures from long ago offers a new way to study how humans perceive facial expressions.

    By
  5. mouse eating
    Neuroscience

    Newly discovered cells in mice can sense four of the five tastes

    Some cells in mice can sense bitter, sweet, sour and umami. Without the cells, some flavor signals don’t get to the ultimate tastemaker — the brain.

    By
  6. patient on life support
    Neuroscience

    New guidance on brain death could ease debate over when life ends

    Brain death can be a tricky concept. Clarity from an international group of doctors may help identify when the brain has stopped working for good.

    By
  7. illustration of a woolly rhino
    Life

    Climate change, not hunters, may have killed off woolly rhinos

    Ancient DNA indicates that numbers of woolly rhinos held steady long after people arrived on the scene.

    By
  8. Cat on a bed
    Health & Medicine

    How two coronavirus drugs for cats might help humans fight COVID-19

    Scientists are exploring if drugs for a disease caused by a coronavirus that infects only cats might help also people infected with the coronavirus.

    By
  9. Hubble Space Telescope during total lunar eclipse
    Astronomy

    Hubble watched a lunar eclipse to see Earth from an alien’s perspective

    Hubble observed sunlight filtering through Earth’s atmosphere during a lunar eclipse to see what a habitable exoplanet’s atmosphere might look like.

    By
  10. dozens of locusts flying around in the desert
    Life

    A single molecule may entice normally solitary locusts to form massive swarms

    Scientists pinpoint a compound emitted by locusts that could inform new ways of controlling the pests.

    By
  11. a hammerhead shark swimming
    Oceans

    Species may swim thousands of kilometers to escape ocean heat waves

    A new analysis of ocean heat waves shows latitude matters when it comes to how far fish and other sea species must go to find cooler waters.

    By
  12. comet
    Astronomy

    In a first, astronomers spotted a space rock turning into a comet

    Scientists have caught a space rock in the act of shifting from a Kuiper Belt object to a comet. That process won’t be complete until 2063.

    By
  13. positronium with an electron in blue and a positron in red
    Quantum Physics

    A measurement of positronium’s energy levels confounds scientists

    A gap in the energy levels of positronium seems to be substantially larger than predicted, and physicists don’t know why.

    By
  14. Dingo from Australia
    Animals

    Culling dingoes with poison may be making them bigger

    Meat laced with toxic powder has been used for decades to kill dingoes. Now, dingoes in baited areas are changing: They’re getting bigger.

    By
  15. ice cube
    Physics

    A new experiment hints at how hot water can freeze faster than cold

    A study of tiny glass beads suggests that the Mpemba effect is real.

    By
  16. robotic beetle on a leaf
    Tech

    Methanol fuel gives this tiny beetle bot the freedom to roam

    A new robot insect uses energy-dense methanol as fuel, not batteries. It could be a blueprint for future search-and-rescue bots with long run times.

    By
  17. photos of three mummified animals
    Archaeology

    X-rays reveal what ancient animal mummies keep under wraps

    A new method of 3-D scanning mummified animals reveals life and death details for a snake, a bird and a cat.

    By
  18. ichthyosaur fossil
    Paleontology

    This ichthyosaur died after devouring a creature nearly as long as itself

    Ichthyosaurs, marine reptiles generally thought to munch on soft prey like cephalopods, may have chowed down on fellow big marine reptiles, too.

    By
  19. a microscopic image of Naegleria fowleri
    Microbes

    50 years ago, scientists were on the trail of a brain-eating amoeba

    In 1970, scientists were studying a brain-eating amoeba that had been implicated in a newfound disease. Today, infections by the parasite are still poorly understood.

    By