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psilocybin-may-help-cancer-patients-with-depression-and-anxiety-for-years

Psilocybin may help cancer patients with depression and anxiety for years

After taking a compound found in magic mushrooms, people with cancer had less anxiety and depression, even years later, a new study suggests. The evidence isn’t strong enough yet to pin these lasting improvements on the hallucinatory episode itself, as opposed to other life changes. But the findings leave open the possibility that the compound,…

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a-siberian-cave-contains-clues-about-two-epic-neandertal-treks

A Siberian cave contains clues about two epic Neandertal treks

Neandertals were epic wanderers. These ancient hominids took a 3,000- to 4,000-kilometer hike from Eastern Europe to the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia around 60,000 years ago, a new study concludes. The evidence is in their handiwork, scientists say, though it’s unclear how long the journey took or if it involved several geographically dispersed Neandertal…

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how-to-brew-a-better-espresso,-according-to-science

How to brew a better espresso, according to science

New research challenges conventional wisdom that brewing a strong shot of espresso requires very finely ground coffee beans. Well-ground beans typically are thought to be best for making strong shots because smaller grounds dissolve more readily, while water flows through such grounds more slowly — allowing more time for the water to soak up coffee.…

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a-squid-fossil-offers-a-rare-record-of-pterosaur-feeding-behavior

A squid fossil offers a rare record of pterosaur feeding behavior

A fossil of a squid with a pterosaur tooth embedded in it offers extraordinary evidence of a 150-million-year-old battle at sea. While many pterosaur fossils containing fish scales and bones in their stomachs have revealed that some of these flying reptiles included fish in their diet, the new find from Germany is the first proof…

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Alternatives to smoking

However the effects are long term and preliminary studies have had to inquire into the effect of vaping on cancer hazard, stroke or coronary attack.

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how-the-new-coronavirus-stacks-up-against-sars-and-mers

How the new coronavirus stacks up against SARS and MERS

Coronaviruses, one of a variety of viruses that cause colds, have been making people cough and sneeze seemingly forever. But occasionally, a new version infects people and causes serious illness and deaths. That is happening now with the coronavirus that has killed at least 26 people and sickened at least 900 since it emerged in…

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levels-of-certain-proteins-in-the-blood-may-act-as-concussion-biomarkers

Levels of certain proteins in the blood may act as concussion biomarkers

A concussion diagnosis depends upon a careful assessment of symptoms. Now the largest study to date of sports-related concussion points to a potential medical assist when evaluating a college athlete for this injury.   Certain proteins in the blood are elevated after a concussion, researchers report online January 24 in JAMA Network Open. That discovery…

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sparkly-exoskeletons-may-help-camouflage-beetles-from-predators

Sparkly exoskeletons may help camouflage beetles from predators

Iridescence sparkles across many branches of the tree of life, from dazzling ruby-throated hummingbirds to bright, metallic beetles. While ostentatious coloration can woo mates, scientists had assumed it also attracted predators. But new evidence suggests an unexpected benefit of iridescence — camouflage. Asian jewel beetles (Sternocera aequisignata) boast brilliantly iridescent exoskeletons, and the fact that…

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mount-vesuvius-may-have-suffocated,-not-vaporized,-some-victims

Mount Vesuvius may have suffocated, not vaporized, some victims

When Mount Vesuvius erupted nearly 2,000 years ago, the blast may not have instantly killed some fleeing residents of Herculaneum, a seaside outpost near Pompeii. Instead, they more slowly baked and suffocated to death in stone boathouses used as shelter, researchers say. Previous evidence had suggested that everyone fleeing the volcano’s most legendary eruption in…

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fed-by-human-caused-erosion,-many-river-deltas-are-growing

Fed by human-caused erosion, many river deltas are growing

River deltas, the fans of sediment sweeping out from the mouths of rivers, are gaining ground. Globally, delta land area increased by 54 square kilometers per year from 1985 to 2015, scientists report January 23 in Nature. A quarter of that gain is due to deforestation freeing soil from the grip of tree roots, allowing…

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ancient-kidsae-dna-reveals-new-insights-into-how-africa-was-populated

Ancient kids’ DNA reveals new insights into how Africa was populated

Four ancient youngsters, one pair from around 8,000 years ago and another from about 3,000 years ago, have opened a window on humankind’s far older, far-flung African origins.  Analyses of the west-central African children’s DNA indicate that at least three major human lineages —ancestral to either today’s central African hunter-gatherers, southern African hunter-gatherers or all…

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collectors-find-plenty-of-bees-but-far-fewer-species-than-in-the-1950s

Collectors find plenty of bees but far fewer species than in the 1950s

Far fewer bee species are buzzing across Earth today, following a steep decline in bee diversity during the last three decades, according to an analysis of bee collections and observations going back a century.   About half as many bee species are turning up in current collecting efforts for museums and other collections compared with…

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the-first-us.-case-of-a-new-coronavirus-has-been-confirmed

The first U.S. case of a new coronavirus has been confirmed

A man in Seattle has been confirmed as the first U.S. case of a novel coronavirus that emerged in central China, where it has killed six people and sickened hundreds more in recent weeks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Officials are also ramping up health screenings at U.S. airports, after…

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how-bacteria-create-flower-art

How bacteria create flower art

When sticky bacteria meet roaming bacteria in a petri dish, friction between the two can cause flower patterns to blossom. Escherichia coli bacteria growing on a substance similar to Jell-O called agar tend to stick to the surface, and colonies of the microbes don’t spread very far. But colonies of Acinetobacter baylyi expand in rapidly…

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a-dance-of-two-atoms-reveals-chemical-bonds-forming-and-breaking

A dance of two atoms reveals chemical bonds forming and breaking

Scientists have now captured video of the intimate dance of two atoms as they bond with one another, break apart and come back together again. In a sequence of images from an electron microscope, two atoms of the metal rhenium, bound together to create a molecule, shimmied around one another, moving closer and then farther…

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hairy-cells-in-the-nose-called-brush-cells-may-be-involved-in-causing-allergies

Hairy cells in the nose called brush cells may be involved in causing allergies

Some hairy cells in the nose may trigger sneezing and allergies to dust mites, mold and other substances, new work with mice suggests. When exposed to allergens, these “brush cells” make chemicals that lead to inflammation, researchers report January 17 in Science Immunology. Only immune cells previously were thought to make such inflammatory chemicals —…

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exploding-cancer-cells-can-cause-serious-side-effects-in-car-t-cell-therapies

Exploding cancer cells can cause serious side effects in CAR-T cell therapies

Techniques to genetically modify patient immune cells have revolutionized the fight against hard-to-treat cancers. But they can come with dangerous side effects. Now, researchers have found one reason why. A particularly messy form of cell death sparks severe inflammation in patients receiving CAR-T cell immunotherapy for blood cancers, researchers report January 17 in Science Immunology.…

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a-naturalist-writes-an-homage-to-bird-migration

A naturalist writes an homage to bird migration

A Season on the WindKenn KaufmanHoughton Mifflin Harcourt, $26 A tiny blackpoll warbler, a bird no heavier than a ballpoint pen, makes an epic journey each year. In fall, the bird flies some 10,000 kilometers from its breeding grounds in Alaska or Canada to its winter retreat in South America. In the spring, the bird…

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volcanic-gas-bursts-probably-didnaet-kill-off-the-dinosaurs

Volcanic gas bursts probably didn’t kill off the dinosaurs

Massive gas bursts emitted by volcanoes about 66 million years ago probably couldn’t have caused a mass extinction event that spelled doom for all nonbird dinosaurs, new research suggests. Data on ancient temperatures, combined with simulations of the shifting carbon cycle in the ocean, lend support to the hypothesis that a giant asteroid impact —…

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the-sterile-moon-may-still-hold-hints-of-how-life-began-on-earth

The sterile moon may still hold hints of how life began on Earth

No life and not much potential, Science News, January 17, 1970 — The lack of life on the moon, or even of biological compounds that might under some circumstance lead to it, had been expected long before Apollo 11 went there….The closest thing to an exception comes from … reports that at least the elements…

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readers-react-to-rechargeable-batteries-and-more

Readers react to rechargeable batteries and more

Safety first Three scientists won the 2019 Nobel Prize in chemistry for developing lithium-ion batteries, Maria Temming and Jonathan Lambert reported in “The development of the lithium-ion battery has won the chemistry Nobel Prize” (SN: 11/9/19, p. 12). Since the rechargeable batteries were first created in the 1970s, they have become safer and cheaper. “I…

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scientists-embrace-a-cathedral’s-rebirth

Scientists embrace a cathedral’s rebirth

The day that Notre Dame burned, we here at Science News watched the live coverage of flames raging into the clear April sky. Like so many other people around the world, we were heartsick. It was hard to imagine that the beloved 850-year-old cathedral could survive such a massive conflagration.  But Notre Dame somehow endured.…

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a-new-drug-lowers-levels-of-a-protein-related-to-ae˜badae-cholesterol

A new drug lowers levels of a protein related to ‘bad’ cholesterol

Routine blood tests in the not-too-distant future may feature a new line item: lipoprotein(a). High levels of this fat- and cholesterol-carrying protein increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, research suggests. But there has been little anyone can do about it. How much lipoprotein(a) a person produces is largely locked in by genetics, and the level…

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2019-was-the-second-warmest-year-on-record

2019 was the second-warmest year on record

The year 2019 is officially the second warmest in the 140-year record of modern temperatures compiled by both NASA and the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, scientists said January 15. The five warmest years on record have all occurred since 2014 — making 2019 the end to the hottest decade ever recorded. The more…

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a-second-planet-may-orbit-proxima-centauri

A second planet may orbit Proxima Centauri

The planet orbiting the star closest to the sun may have a neighbor. Proxima Centauri, a dim red star just 4.2 light-years away, is already known to host one potentially habitable planet, Proxima b, that’s a bit more massive than Earth (SN: 8/24/16). Now, astronomers see hints of a second planet, this one much larger…

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neandertals-dove-and-harvested-clamshells-for-tools-near-italyaes-shores

Neandertals dove and harvested clamshells for tools near Italy’s shores

Often typecast as spear-wielding mammoth killers, some Neandertals were beachcombers and surf divers, researchers say. At Moscerini Cave, located on Italy’s western coast, Neandertals collected clamshells on the beach and retrieved others from the Mediterranean Sea, say archaeologist Paola Villa of the University of Colorado Boulder Museum of Natural History and her colleagues. Our close,…

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a-parasite-that-makes-mice-unafraid-of-cats-may-quash-other-fears-too

A parasite that makes mice unafraid of cats may quash other fears too

A parasite common in cats can eliminate infected mice’s fear of felines — a brain hijack that leads to a potentially fatal attraction. But this cat-related boldness (SN: 9/18/13) isn’t the whole story. Once in the brain, the single-celled parasite Toxoplasma gondii makes mice reckless in all sorts of dangerous scenarios, researchers write January 14…

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microbes-slowed-by-one-drug-can-rapidly-develop-resistance-to-another

Microbes slowed by one drug can rapidly develop resistance to another

Infectious bacteria that are down but not quite dead yet may be more dangerous than previously thought. Even as one antibiotic causes the bacteria to go dormant, the microbes may more easily develop resistance to another drug, according to new research. Deadly Staphylococcus aureus bacteria that could tolerate one type of antibiotic developed resistance to…

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this-ancient-stardust-is-the-oldest-ever-to-be-examined-in-a-lab

This ancient stardust is the oldest ever to be examined in a lab

Ancient stardust extracted from a meteorite contains specks that are up to about 3 billion years older than the solar system, making them the oldest solids ever dated in a lab, researchers report. Unlike most of the other stardust that went into building our solar system, these microscopic grains have remained intact since they were…

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australian-fires-have-incinerated-the-habitats-of-up-to-100-threatened-species

Australian fires have incinerated the habitats of up to 100 threatened species

Until last week, the Kangaroo Island glossy black cockatoo was one of Australia’s conservation success stories. Thanks to a recovery program that began in 1995, its wild population increased from 150 to 400, and its status was downgraded from critically endangered to endangered. Now it’s part of an unfolding horror story. Fires have raged across…

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how-to-restore-the-legendary-acoustics-of-notre-dame

How to restore the legendary acoustics of Notre Dame

For centuries, the interior of Notre Dame never saw much sunlight. But when Brian Katz stepped inside the cathedral last July, the place was drenched in light, its famous arched ceiling open to the sky. Nearly three months before, on April 15, 2019, a fire had ripped through the Paris cathedral. Now, charred wood lay…

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what-we-know-ae”-and-donaet-know-ae”-about-a-new-virus-causing-pneumonia-in-china

What we know — and don’t know — about a new virus causing pneumonia in China

A mysterious outbreak of pneumonia in central China has preliminarily been pegged to a new coronavirus, but the World Health Organization says there’s no need to panic. Chinese officials have reported little evidence so far of human-to-human transmission, the WHO says, making an epidemic less likely. Coronaviruses can cause a wide variety of illnesses, from…

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dark-matter-pioneer-vera-rubin-gets-a-new-observatory-named-after-her

Dark matter pioneer Vera Rubin gets a new observatory named after her

A trailblazer into the dark heart of the universe is getting her due. A major new effort to study the cosmos is now named after astronomer Vera Rubin, who discovered telltale evidence that the universe is infused with dark matter. The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, LSST, a U.S.-funded project under construction in Chile, is now…

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a-giant-wave-of-gas-lurks-near-our-solar-system

A giant wave of gas lurks near our solar system

HONOLULU — The Earth and sun are right next to a wavy rope of star-forming gas, but astronomers only just noticed it. Many of the most well-known nearby stellar nurseries — places like the Orion Nebula — are actually strung along a continuous thread of gas that stretches roughly 9,000 light-years, researchers report. The thread…

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homo-erectus-arrived-in-indonesia-300,000-years-later-than-previously-thought

Homo erectus arrived in Indonesia 300,000 years later than previously thought

Homo erectus reached the Indonesian island of Java some 300,000 years later than many researchers have assumed, a new study finds. Analyzing volcanic material from sediment that had yielded H. erectus fossils at Java’s Sangiran site shows that the extinct, humanlike hominids likely arrived on the island around 1.3 million years ago, scientists report in…

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young-stars-have-been-found-in-an-old-part-of-our-galaxy

Young stars have been found in an old part of our galaxy

HONOLULU – A cluster of young stars in the Milky Way is hanging out where it seemingly shouldn’t exist. Our galaxy is enveloped in an extensive halo of old stars and hot gas — gas which can’t cool down enough to clump together and form new stars. And yet, a flock of relatively new stars…

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global-progress-in-combating-child-malnutrition-masks-problem-spots

Global progress in combating child malnutrition masks problem spots

The percentage of children with serious malnutrition decreased around the world from 2000 to 2017, a new study finds. But the problem stayed flat or even worsened in some countries, including swaths of Nigeria, Congo, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Guatemala. And trouble spots remained in even relatively well-off countries such as China and Peru, researchers report…

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ocean-acidification-may-not-make-fish-act-weird-after-all

Ocean acidification may not make fish act weird after all

Climate change threatens coral reef fishes in myriad ways, but maybe not in all the ways we thought. Some studies have suggested that ocean acidification, one consequence of climate change, might warp fish behavior. But new research shows that fish may be far more resilient. Scientists predict that as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels continue to…

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electric-scooter-injuries-rose-222-percent-in-4-years-in-the-us.

Electric scooter injuries rose 222 percent in 4 years in the U.S.

Electric scooters are clogging up big city sidewalks and jamming up hospital rooms, too. Using U.S. emergency room reports of e-scooter injuries, scientists estimate there were 19 injuries per 100,000 people in 2018, compared with just 6 injuries per 100,000 in 2014. That’s a 222 percent jump in four years, scientists report January 8 in…

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this-material-could-camouflage-objects-from-infrared-cameras

This material could camouflage objects from infrared cameras

Hotter objects typically glow brighter than cooler ones, making them stand out in infrared images. But a newly designed coating bucks the rule that hotter equals brighter. For certain wavelengths of infrared light, the material’s brightness doesn’t change as it warms, researchers report December 17 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Made of…

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bubble-blowing-galaxies-could-help-solve-a-cosmic-mystery

Bubble-blowing galaxies could help solve a cosmic mystery

HONOLULU – A trio of bubble-blowing galaxies may offer clues about one of the greatest cosmic makeovers in the history of the universe. Sometime during the universe’s first billion or so years, most of the hydrogen atoms in the cosmos became ionized when their electrons were torn away (SN: 11/7/19). Astronomers suspect that this reionization…

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a-new-exhibit-invites-you-to-step-into-jane-goodallaes-life

A new exhibit invites you to step into Jane Goodall’s life

Jane Goodall began observing chimpanzees in 1960, but her first study of animal behavior took place some 20 years earlier, when she was about 5 years old. One afternoon, she disappeared from home for several hours. Just as her panicked mother was about to contact the police, young Jane returned. “Well, I’ve been in a…

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climate-models-agree-things-will-get-bad.-capturing-just-how-bad-is-tricky

Climate models agree things will get bad. Capturing just how bad is tricky

Earth’s climatic future is uncertain, but the world needs to prepare for change. Enter climate simulations, which re-create the physical interactions between land, sea and sky using well-known physical laws and equations. Such models can look into the past and reconstruct ancient ice ages or hothouse worlds with the help of data gleaned from rocks…

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the-home-galaxy-of-a-second-repeating-fast-radio-burst-is-a-puzzle

The home galaxy of a second repeating fast radio burst is a puzzle

Brief, brilliant flashes of radio waves have been traced back to a galaxy that looks like the Milky Way — a radically different environment from where astronomers have seen similar radio flares before. Until now, the only source known for a recurrent fast radio burst like this was a tiny, star-forming dwarf galaxy (SN: 1/4/17),…

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small-ae˜cousinsae-of-t.-rex-may-have-actually-been-growing-teenagers

Small ‘cousins’ of T. rex may have actually been growing teenagers

Small but fearsome dinosaurs once thought to be pygmy kin of Tyrannosaurus rex instead may have been mere juveniles of the iconic species, new analyses of fossils suggest. The finding bolsters the case that teenage tyrannosaurs had different dining habits than their bone-crushing elders, researchers report January 1 in Science Advances. T. rex fossils were…

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ligo-detects-its-second-neutron-star-collision,-but-gains-few-clues

LIGO detects its second neutron star collision, but gains few clues

HONOLULU — For the second time, a collision between two neutron stars in another galaxy has rattled a gravitational-wave detector on Earth. But this duo is being much more coy than the first. In 2017, astronomers announced with much fanfare that they had detected ripples in spacetime, from the merging of two neutron stars, the…

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top-10-science-anniversaries-in-2020

Top 10 science anniversaries in 2020

2020, the International Year of Good Vision, is also a good year for scientific anniversaries. As usual, there are the birthday anniversaries, offering an opportunity to recognize some of the great scientists of the past for their contributions to humankind’s collective knowledge. And there are the anniversaries of accomplishments, discoveries or events that left the…

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the-first-glimpses-of-a-pulsaraes-surface-hint-at-complex-magnetism

The first glimpses of a pulsar’s surface hint at complex magnetism

A pulsar in the Milky Way is ready for its close-up. Two teams of astronomers independently have gotten the first glimpses of the surface of a pulsar, a rapidly spinning neutron star. Newly created maps of that surface reveal a smattering of bright blemishes in the star’s southern hemisphere, hinting at the presence of complex…

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color-changing-fibers-help-reveal-mysteries-of-how-knots-work

Color-changing fibers help reveal mysteries of how knots work

Deciding whether a knot is fit to be tied just got a bit more scientific. Some knots are stronger than others, but scientists have struggled to explain why. Now, with the help of color-changing fibers, researchers have developed simple mathematical rules that can determine the relative strength of various knots based only on the knots’…

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a-new-map-reveals-radio-waves-from-tens-of-thousands-of-galaxies

A new map reveals radio waves from tens of thousands of galaxies

Never-before-seen radio waves from tens of thousands of galaxies have a secret to share: The height of star formation in the cosmos may have been more prolific than previously imagined. Radio telescopes are good probes of star formation. But until now, they haven’t been sensitive enough to see radio waves coming from the vast majority…

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injecting-a-tb-vaccine-into-the-blood,-not-the-skin,-boosts-its-effectiveness

Injecting a TB vaccine into the blood, not the skin, boosts its effectiveness

Delivering a high dose of a vaccine against tuberculosis intravenously, instead of under the skin, greatly improves the drug’s ability to protect against the deadly disease, a new study finds. Changing the typical dose and method of administration of the bacille Calmette-Guérin, or BCG, vaccine prevented TB in 90 percent of rhesus monkeys, researchers report…

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russian-foxes-bred-for-tameness-may-not-be-the-domestication-story-we-thought

Russian foxes bred for tameness may not be the domestication story we thought

For the last 60 years, scientists in Siberia have bred silver foxes to be increasingly tame, with the goal of revealing the evolutionary and genetic underpinnings of domestication. This research also famously showed a link between tameness and such physical changes as curled tails and spotted coats, known as “domestication syndrome.” But that story is…

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fluid-dynamics-may-help-drones-capture-a-dolphinaes-breath-in-midair

Fluid dynamics may help drones capture a dolphin’s breath in midair

If you’ve ever had trouble catching your breath, try catching a dolphin’s. The plume produced when dolphins come up for air could reveal information about their health. But capturing samples of the spray from agile, skittish wild dolphins is challenging. To make the task easier, a team of engineers has characterized the flow of a…

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stick-toting-puffins-offer-the-first-evidence-of-tool-use-in-seabirds

Stick-toting puffins offer the first evidence of tool use in seabirds

Annette Fayet was scanning a colony of Atlantic puffins off the coast of Wales when something caught her eye. A puffin, gently bobbing on the sea, held a stick in its orange-black bill. Then, the seabird used it to scratch its back. “I was surprised and excited,” says Fayet, an ecologist at the University of…

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a-bioethicist-says-scientists-owe-clinical-trial-volunteers-support

A bioethicist says scientists owe clinical trial volunteers support

Some people see clinical trials as a chance for a miracle cure. In reality, these experimental drug tests and medical interventions often fail. With researchers in the United States now testing the gene editor CRISPR/Cas9 for the first time in people with cancer, blood disorders or inherited blindness (SN: 8/14/19), one bioethicist says it’s important…

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these-are-the-most-read-science-news-stories-of-2019

These are the most-read Science News stories of 2019

Science News drew more than 15 million visitors to our website this year. Here’s a rundown of the most-read news stories of 2019 that didn’t make our Top 10 list, as well as the most popular longer reads. Top news stories 1. A chip made with carbon nanotubes, not silicon, marks a computing milestoneResearchers built…

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science-newsae-favorite-fossils-of-2019

Science News’ favorite fossils of 2019

This year’s fossil finds, from vast new collections of species to wonderful and weird curiosities, helped reveal the richness and diversity of life on Earth over the last half a billion years.  1. Impressive invertebrates 518 million years ago China’s Qingjiang biota is a treasure trove of beautifully preserved fossils, including jellyfish (left), comb jellies…

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how-2019’s-space-missions-explored-distant-worlds

How 2019’s space missions explored distant worlds

From asteroids to exoplanets, spacecraft are leaving no space rock unturned. While agencies in China, India and Israel made headlines with missions to the moon, here are some other places that space probes scouted in 2019. Zoom and enhance Touring Pluto in 2015 may have been New Horizons’ main event (SN: 12/26/15, p. 16), but…

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in-a-first,-an-ebola-vaccine-wins-approval-from-the-fda

In a first, an Ebola vaccine wins approval from the FDA

An Ebola vaccine, already deployed against the often deadly disease in an ongoing outbreak in Congo, is the first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The vaccine, called Ervebo and developed by the pharmaceutical company Merck, underwent testing during the 2014–2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa and was found to be effective at…

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airplane-sewage-may-be-helping-antibiotic-resistant-microbes-spread

Airplane sewage may be helping antibiotic-resistant microbes spread

Sewage from airplanes serves as a melting pot for a globally sourced group of gut microbes. Now, a study suggests that such waste is loaded with bacteria resistant to antibiotics along with a smorgasbord of genes that confer drug resistance. That means airplane waste could be helping to fuel the spread of antibiotic resistance around…

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50-years-ago,-scientists-didnaet-know-where-heavy-elements-came-from

50 years ago, scientists didn’t know where heavy elements came from

Seeking the places where the elements are made — Science News, December 20, 1969 One of the outstanding questions in astrophysics is whether all [variants of naturally occurring elements] have been present from the beginning of the universe.… If the nuclear manufacture was not accomplished in some big bang … then it must take place…

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in-some-languages,-love-and-pity-get-rolled-into-the-same-word

In some languages, love and pity get rolled into the same word

Lexically speaking, love is love. Except when it’s not. In some languages, the word for love comes tinged with pity. By analyzing the meanings of words used to describe emotions in over 2,000 languages, researchers found some universal truths. But the analysis, described in the Dec. 20 Science, also revealed cultural quirks. That includes “hanisi,”…

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ocean-acidification-could-degrade-sharksae-tough-skin

Ocean acidification could degrade sharks’ tough skin

The tough, toothy skin of sharks may be no match for the acidified oceans of the future. After nine weeks of exposure to seawater doctored to mimic projected acidic levels in 2300, corrosion had frayed the edges of many denticles — the toothlike protrusions that make up sharkskin — on three puffadder shysharks, researchers report…

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installing-democracies-may-not-work-without-prior-cultural-shifts

Installing democracies may not work without prior cultural shifts

When the United States invaded Iraq in the early 2000s, President George W. Bush pledged to turn the autocratic nation into a democracy. “Iraqi democracy will succeed, and that success will send forth the news from Damascus to Tehran that freedom can be the future of every nation,” Bush said in a speech in November…

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a-new-mission-to-investigate-exoplanets-has-rocketed-into-space

A new mission to investigate exoplanets has rocketed into space

A new satellite devoted to gazing at planets orbiting other stars has just launched into space. At 3:54 a.m. Eastern time on December 18, the European Space Agency’s CHEOPS satellite lifted off from Kourou, French Guiana. CHEOPS — an abbreviation of “Characterizing Exoplanet Satellite” — is the first ESA-led mission dedicated solely to the study…

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these-science-claims-from-2019-could-be-big-deals-ae”-if-true

These science claims from 2019 could be big deals — if true

Discoveries about dinosaurs’ death knell, a watery exoplanet, a new hominid species and more are keeping us on the edge of our seats. But these reports require more proof before they can earn a spot on our list of top stories of the year. Dino doomsday When an asteroid smashed into Earth about 66 million…

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koalas-arenaet-primates,-but-they-move-like-monkeys-in-trees

Koalas aren’t primates, but they move like monkeys in trees

Koalas could be Australia’s take on monkeys and apes. Pudgy, big-eared koalas are celebrity marsupials, nurturing teensy young in pouches as a kangaroo does. In koalas’ home trees, however, “we found they’re actually not moving like other marsupials,” says Christofer Clemente of University of the Sunshine Coast in Sippy Downs, Australia. “They’re moving more like…

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dna-from-5,700-year-old-ae˜gumae-shows-what-one-ancient-woman-may-have-looked-like

DNA from 5,700-year-old ‘gum’ shows what one ancient woman may have looked like

Fossilized bones and teeth aren’t the only source of ancient human DNA. The genetic material also sticks around in birch pitch “chewing gum,” which can hold enough DNA to piece together the genetic instruction books, or genomes, of long-dead people, researchers report December 17 in Nature Communications. By analyzing a 5,700-year-old chewed wad of pitch…

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Climate change may be why birds are migrating earlier across the United States

A large-scale analysis of bird migrations in the contiguous United States confirms what ornithologists and amateur birders already suspected: Overall, birds’ seasonal long-distance flights are happening earlier than they did a quarter of a century ago. This shift is probably due to higher temperatures, which have risen on average around half a degree Celsius per…

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Google claimed quantum supremacy in 2019 — and sparked controversy

Like Schrödinger’s cat, a 2019 claim of quantum supremacy seems to be simultaneously alive and dead. Thanks to the rules of quantum mechanics, the fabled feline occupies two contradictory states at once, and the same applies to this year’s most prominent quantum advance. In October, researchers from Google claimed to have achieved a milestone known…

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China stuck its moon landing this year. Others weren’t as lucky

Lunar-landing missions are back in vogue. After decades with almost no traffic to the moon, space agencies clamored to send spacecraft to Earth’s nearest neighbor in 2019. While the China National Space Administration parked the first spacecraft on the lunar farside, other missions met less-satisfying ends. Two probes, flown by the Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL and…

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Our take on this year’s big science newsmakers

Readers often tell us that they prize the magazine for keeping them up to speed on science in the broadest sense. We work hard to meet that expectation, with reporters reading scientific journals, traveling to scope out presentations and poster sessions at key research meetings, and talking with many, many scientists to find out what’s…

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2019 brought us the first image of a black hole. A movie may be next

Black holes are notoriously bashful beasts. The supermassive monsters that dwell at the centers of galaxies weigh millions to billions of times the mass of the sun and control the fates of everything in their vicinity, including light. Despite such outsize influence over their home galaxies, black holes never show their faces. Until now. After…

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Mysterious Denisovans emerged from the shadows in 2019

Denisovans’ days of Stone Age obscurity appear numbered. The mysterious “ghost clan” floated into view over a decade ago, when a bit of a girl’s pinkie bone, found in Siberia’s Denisova Cave, yielded DNA that didn’t match that of any known hominid. A few more fossils — three teeth and a limb fragment — plus…

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Record-breaking heat amplified waves of student climate protests in 2019

This year was a scorcher. Summer temperatures broke hundreds of all-time records, bringing unprecedented melting to Greenland and helping to fuel wildfires that raged across the Arctic as early as June (SN Online: 8/2/19). And a stark report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of a bleak future for Earth’s oceans and frozen…

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