Physicists have found quasiparticles that mimic hypothetical dark matter axions

An elusive hypothetical particle comes in imitation form. Lurking within a solid crystal is a phenomenon that is mathematically similar to proposed subatomic particles called axions, physicist Johannes Gooth and colleagues report online October 7 in Nature. If axions exist as fundamental particles, they could constitute a hidden form of matter in the cosmos, dark…

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Economics Nobel goes to poverty-fighting science

A scientific approach to reducing poverty’s many harmful effects via field experiments in schools and other real-world settings has won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Economists Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, both of MIT, and Michael Kremer of Harvard University will receive equal shares of the prize of 9 million Swedish kronor, equivalent to…

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Nearly 1,300 injuries and 29 deaths in the U.S. have been tied to vaping

Alaska is now the only U.S. state that hasn’t reported vaping-related lung injuries. Nearly 1,300 people have been sickened and 29 have died, including a 17-year-old from New York, the youngest death yet. Even as the toll climbs, it may still take months before the underlying causes of lung injuries, predominantly affecting many young and…

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A supermassive black hole shredded a star and was caught in the act

Every so often, a celestial slasher film plays out in the heavens, as a supermassive black hole shreds a star and swallows part of it. Now scientists have gotten a rare, early glimpse of the show. The episode, described September 26 in the Astrophysical Journal, was first detected by telescopes in January and named ASASSN-19bt.…

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A new cooling technique relies on untwisting coiled fibers

A new way to chill out is simple: Just unwind. Called twistocaloric cooling, the method involves unwinding tightly twisted strands of various materials. The technique was used to chill water by several degrees Celsius, scientists report in the Oct. 11 Science. Cooling techniques like those used in traditional refrigerators rely on cycles of compressing and…

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Ancient European households combined the rich and poor

Families working the land in ancient Europe also cultivated social inequality. A social pecking order consisting of “haves” and “have-nots” living in the same household appeared among Bronze Age farmers by around 4,000 years ago, a study suggests. Ancient DNA, objects placed in graves and chemical analyses of teeth indicate that each farming household in…

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How tardigrades protect their DNA to defy death

Tardigrades may partly owe their ability to survive outer space to having the molecular equivalent of cotton candy. Water bears, as the creatures are also known, can famously survive just about anything (SN: 7/14/17), including being bombarded with X-rays or cosmic rays, or being doused in hydrogen peroxide. Such radiation and chemical exposure result in…

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Too much groundwater pumping is draining many of the world’s rivers

Humankind’s collective thirst is slowly desiccating landscapes worldwide, a study of groundwater finds. Water stored in aquifers underground makes up the vast majority of accessible freshwater on Earth. Its abundance has fueled forays into drier locales, such as California’s Central Valley, enabling a boom in crop production (SN: 7/23/19). And overall, about 70 percent of…

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The development of the lithium-ion battery has won the chemistry Nobel Prize

Creating a rechargeable world has earned three scientists the 2019 Nobel Prize in chemistry. John B. Goodenough of the University of Texas at Austin, M. Stanley Whittingham of Binghamton University in New York and Akira Yoshino of the Asahi Kasei Corporation in Tokyo and Meijo University in Nagoya, Japan, won for their contributions to developing…

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With 20 new moons, Saturn now has the most of any solar system planet

Saturn now reigns as the solar system’s “moon king,” thanks to 20 newfound moons. That brings the ringed planet’s total known satellites to 82, knocking Jupiter — with 79 moons (SN: 7/17/18) — off the throne, the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center announced October 7. And it’s not just a phase. Saturn is likely…

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Burrowing birds create pockets of rich plant life in a desert landscape

In the rain-starved deserts of coastal Peru, tiny patches surprisingly rich in plant life dot the landscape. Burrowing birds may be responsible, scientists say. Mounds of sand shoveled out by nest-digging burrowing owls and miner birds harbor more seedlings and exclusive plant varieties compared with surrounding undisturbed soils, researchers from the National University of San…

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Nepal is reeling from an unprecedented dengue outbreak

KATHMANDU, Nepal — When mosquito season brought past dengue outbreaks to regions across the Asian tropics, Nepal hardly had to worry. The high-altitude Himalayan country was typically too chilly for the disease-carrying insects to live. But with climate change opening new paths for the viral disease, Nepal is now reeling from an unprecedented outbreak. At…

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Discovery of how cells sense oxygen wins the 2019 medicine Nobel

A trio of scientists has won the 2019 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their work on how cells sense and respond to oxygen. Gregg Semenza of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, William Kaelin of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and Peter Ratcliffe of the Francis Crick Institute in London made discoveries relating…

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In a climate crisis, is geoengineering worth the risks?

Geoengineering ideas — tinkering with the climate to delay or halt the worst effects of global warming — have been around for decades. Few such ideas have progressed past the thought experiment stage, due in part to concerns that the cure could be worse than the disease. But as dire warnings about climate change’s impacts…

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The U.S. narrowly eked out a measles win, keeping elimination status

Just in the nick of time, a nearly yearlong measles outbreak that threatened to strip the United States of a major public health achievement decades in the making has ended. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on October 4 that the United States has maintained its measles elimination status, first gained in…

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A new book explores how the concept of the multiverse has evolved

The Number of the HeavensTom SiegfriedHarvard Univ., $29.95 There is no bigger question than whether the universe is all there is. Scientists are juggling several ideas for what a multiverse, if one exists, might be like. Our universe could be one bubble in a vast cosmic fizz. Or one of many 3-D domains stacked, like…

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A new image reveals the structure of the cosmic web

Like an ethereal cosmic spider web, filaments of gas form a complex, interconnected structure that links galaxies to one another. But, just as whisper-thin threads of spider silk can be nearly invisible, this cosmic web is faint and difficult to detect. Now astronomers have made the first detailed picture of light emitted by the gas.…

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Men with breast cancer have lower survival rates than women

When doctors and scientists come to his table at national cancer meetings, Michael Singer says he feels a bit like a caged specimen. “They look at me with that bewildered look, ‘oh, so this is what a male breast cancer patient looks like,’ ” quips the retired 59-year-old from the Bronx, N.Y. With many diseases,…

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Malin Pinsky seeks to explain how climate change alters ocean life

Malin Pinsky had the first of two lightbulb moments while standing on the bridge of a research ship crossing the churning Drake Passage, which separates the tip of South America and Antarctica. It was 2003, and Pinsky was five months out of his undergraduate studies in biology and environmental science. He was scanning the sky…

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Monika Schleier-Smith leads elaborate quantum conversations

“I like it if I can run uphill and be rewarded with a view of the bay,” says Monika Schleier-Smith. She’s talking about a favorite spot to exercise around Palo Alto, Calif., but the sentiment also applies to her scientific work. A physicist at Stanford, Schleier-Smith, 36, has a reputation for embracing the uphill climb.…

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Abigail Swann’s alternate Earths show how plants shape climate

There’s a lot to love about 19th century electronics that spray sparks into the air. When Abigail Swann was a high school student, building a modern version from scratch of what’s called a Tesla coil struck her as a fine project to tackle with her engineer father in the garage. The underdog genius Nikola Tesla,…

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Maryam Shanechi designs machines to read minds

Mind reading may sound like a sci-fi dream, but it’s Maryam Shanechi’s day job. This neural engineer doesn’t need mind melds or magic spells to tap into brain activity. Rather, Shanechi, 38, develops computer algorithms that translate electrical blips emitted by brain cells into machine commands. Shanechi has designed and tested systems that harness neural…

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Michelle O’Malley seeks greener chemistry through elusive fungi

If you’ve visited the Santa Barbara Zoo, you may have seen members of Michelle O’Malley’s research team. They’re the folks in lab coats and gloves, hanging out with the San Clemente Island goats and the Navajo-Churro sheep, awaiting specimens that could radically change the source of the world’s fuels and chemicals. “It can be hard…

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Stanley Qi gives CRISPR a makeover to redefine genetic engineering

It might seem that dulling a cutting tool is the last thing an engineer would want to do, but Stanley Qi is no ordinary engineer. By blunting the gene-editing scissors known as CRISPR/Cas9, he made them even more useful — the molecular equivalent of a Swiss Army knife. CRISPR/Cas9 has become one of the most…

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Parag Pathak uses data and algorithms to make public education fairer

Every year, 70,000 New York City eighth-graders get sorted into about 400 high schools across the Big Apple. But until the early 2000s, more than a third of students wound up at schools they had not chosen. School choice systems emerged in the 1960s and ’70s after courts began ordering schools to desegregate to comply…

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Gene editing can make fruit flies into ‘monarch flies’

Gene-edited fruit flies have gained some of monarch butterflies’ superpowers — specifically, the ability to digest milkweed toxins and become poisonous to predators. Making just three genetic changes turned regular fruit flies into “monarch flies,” able to withstand plant toxins and store the chemicals as the flies transformed from maggots to adults, researchers report October…

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This year’s SN 10 enjoy the journey, not just the discovery

After nearly four years of painstaking work, in 1902 Marie Curie produced one-tenth of a gram of radium chloride from several tons of uranium ore. It took her another eight years to isolate pure radium. The effort won her a second Nobel Prize and cemented her legacy as one of science’s most tenacious minds. “One…

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Brett McGuire searches space for the chemistry of life

In a different reality, space might smell like almonds. After all, scientists surveying the chemicals in the cosmos have found benzonitrile; just a bit of the compound would fill your nostrils with a bitter almond scent. But our cosmos is too vast. “Space smells like nothing,” says astrochemist Brett McGuire. “There’s not enough to get…

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Andrea Young uncovers the strange physics of 2-D materials

Speaking with Andrea Young feels like watching a racehorse holding itself back at the starting gate. We met on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he’s a condensed matter physicist, to chat about his work on 2-D materials. His mind seems to be working faster than the conversation can flow. My…

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Dog behaviors like aggression and fearfulness are linked to breed genetics

Your dog’s ability to learn new tricks may be less a product of your extensive training than their underlying genetics. Among 101 dog breeds, scientists found that certain behavioral traits such as trainability or aggression were more likely to be shared by genetically similar breeds. While past studies have looked into the genetic underpinnings of…

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Rare eastern equine encephalitis has killed 9 people in the U.S. in 2019

The worst outbreak of eastern equine encephalitis since U.S. health officials began monitoring the mosquito-borne disease 15 years ago is prompting aerial bug spraying and dire warnings to avoid the biting insects well into fall. As of October 1, 31 cases — including nine deaths — have been reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease…

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Human embryos have extra hand muscles found in lizards but not most adults

Human embryos are more muscle-bound than adult humans, new microscope images cataloging early development show. For instance, at seven weeks of gestation, embryonic hands have about 30 muscles. Adults have about 19. Many of the muscles are lost, and some fuse with others, adopting the adult arrangement by 13 weeks of gestation, researchers report October…

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Here’s where Earth stores its carbon

Human-driven carbon pollution is wreaking havoc on the global climate, from bleaching tropical corals to melting polar ice caps. But the amount of carbon in Earth’s oceans and atmosphere barely scratches the surface of the planet’s vast carbon reservoirs. Over the last decade, researchers affiliated with the international Deep Carbon Observatory have taken inventory of…

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Hurricane Lorenzo hit category 5 farther east than any other storm

Hurricane Lorenzo broke records when it briefly strengthened to a category 5 storm, with winds whipping near 260 kilometers per hour, as it spun over the eastern Atlantic Ocean on September 28. No other tropical cyclone that has formed in the Atlantic has reached such intensity that far northeast since record-keeping began in 1851. The…

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‘Imagined Life’ envisions the odd critters of other planets

Imagined Life James Trefil and Michael SummersSmithsonian Books, $29.95 An organism is shaped by the environment in which it dwells. Considering the rampant diversity of species on Earth, just imagine the oddities that could evolve on radically different sorts of planets — perhaps black-leafed “plants” that thrive in dim light or even creatures made of…

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NASA’s new black hole visualizations showcase how gravity warps light

In April, astronomers wowed the world with the first real-life picture of a black hole. But that blurry, still image of the supermassive monster in the galaxy M87 doesn’t really convey just how wildly a black hole’s immense gravity distorts its surroundings. Now, images from computer simulations highlight in more detail how a black hole…

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Mice fidget. Those motions have big effects on their brains

Survey any office, and you’ll see pens tapping, heels bouncing and hair being twiddled. But jittery humans aren’t alone. Mice also fidget while they work. What’s more, this seemingly useless motion has a profound and widespread effect on mice’s brain activity, neuroscientist Anne Churchland of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York and colleagues report…

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Vaping-related illness reports have surged to 805 from 46 U.S. states

The number of vaping-related lung injuries has soared in the last week, up to 805 from 530, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Forty-six states and one territory, the U.S. Virgin Islands, have been affected. Twelve people in 10 states — California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri and Oregon…

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Connecting our dwindling natural habitats could help preserve plant diversity

An ecological experiment so big it can be seen from space suggests that connecting isolated habitats with natural corridors can help preserve plant diversity. The 18-year-long project revealed that linking fragments of restored longleaf pine savanna by a natural passageway boosted the number of plant species by 14 percent in those patches by the end…

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A mouse’s metabolism may follow circadian rhythms set by gut bacteria

Mice (and maybe people) may metabolize food according to daily, circadian rhythms set by gut bacteria. Microbes in the small intestine of mice rhythmically dictate when fat is taken up by cells that line the organ, researchers report. The study, described in the Sept. 27 Science, details how gut microbes influence a host’s metabolism. If…

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50 years ago, scientists warned of marijuana’s effects on the unborn

Pinning down the weed, Science News, September 27, 1969 — New research hints that marijuana may have serious physiological effects that should make it, like cigarettes, carry a warning … The possibility that marijuana is teratogenic, causing damage to unborn children, is a specter that as yet cannot be put down … [T]here is already…

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Baby bottles may go back millennia in Europe

Three spouted vessels from graves in ancient European cemeteries may have come from the mouths of babes. Chemical signs of nonhuman animal milk in the artifacts suggest that the small clay containers, previously found in three children’s graves in southeastern Germany, represent early versions of baby bottles, researchers report. Spouts on these types of pots…

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Disabling one protein might one day lead to a cure for the common cold

An uncommon way of thinking may be bringing scientists one step closer to a cure for the common cold. Researchers have identified a key protein in humans that some viruses use to multiply inside of human cells. Disabling that protein, instead of attacking the virus itself, may prevent infections from spreading. In mice and human…

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Cats may have ‘attachment styles’ that mirror people’s

Cats may have “attachment styles” that resemble those of people. And contrary to cats’ aloof reputation, most felines form deep, secure bonds with their owners, researchers say. Attachment theory, developed in the 1950s, suggests that early in life, people predominately form one of four styles of attachment: secure and three types of insecure called ambivalent,…

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Sean Carroll’s new book argues quantum physics leads to many worlds

Something Deeply HiddenSean CarrollDutton, $29 Quantum physics is about multiplicity. Its equations describe multiple possible outcomes for a measurement in the subatomic realm. Physicists have devised a dozen or two different interpretations of what that really means. And in turn, dozens and dozens of books have been written to explain, defend or deny the validity…

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Rumors hint that Google has accomplished quantum supremacy

A leaked paper suggests that Google has achieved a milestone known as quantum supremacy, using a quantum computer to perform a calculation that couldn’t be achieved even with the world’s most powerful supercomputers. It’s a hotly anticipated goal, and one intended to mark the beginning of a new era of quantum computation (SN: 6/29/17). But…

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India’s first attempt to land on the moon appears to have failed

The sun is setting on India’s first attempted lunar landing. As night fell over the lunar south pole on September 20, scientists’ hopes that the solar-powered Vikram lander would contact Earth before the end of one lunar day have been dashed. Officials at the Indian space agency ISRO reportedly believe that the Vikram lander died…

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Can time travel survive a theory of everything?

In many universes, typically those on TV shows or in movies, time travel is not much more difficult than driving downtown in any major city during rush hour. Sure, the traffic can get gnarly, but no law of physics prevents you from reaching your destination eventually. In real life, time travel isn’t so easy. In…

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Why tumbleweeds may be more science fiction than Old West

Spotting a tumbleweed doesn’t necessarily mean you’re anywhere near the O.K. Corral. Those dried-up, gray and brown tangles of Salsola plants have blown through many a Western movie, but they aren’t all that Western. You can find the common S. tragus in Maine, Louisiana, Hawaii and at least 42 other states. What’s more, S. tragus…

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

Nearly 3 billion fewer birds exist in North America today than in 1970. While scientists have known for decades that certain kinds of birds have struggled as humans (and bird-gobbling cats) encroach on their habitats, a new comprehensive tally shows the staggering extent of the loss. Nearly 1 in 3 birds — or 29 percent…

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Alcohol-producing bacteria could cause liver disease in some people

Friendly gut bacteria that make their own alcohol may seem like the life of the party. But they could be dangerous friends to have. These ethanol-producing microbes may cause nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, researchers report September 19 in Cell Metabolism. Fatty liver disease results when too much fat is stored in the liver, and can…

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

Scientists have painted a portrait of a young female who belonged to a mysterious, humanlike population known as Denisovans around 50,000 years ago. Here’s the kicker: Only a handful of Denisovan fossils have been found, including the youngster’s pinky finger. So a team led by evolutionary geneticists David Gokhman and Liran Carmel of the Hebrew…

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A new experiment slashes the maximum possible mass of tiny neutrinos

The maximum possible mass of a barely there particle has just gotten smaller. Subatomic particles called neutrinos are extremely lightweight. Now, scientists with the KATRIN experiment in Karlsruhe, Germany, have shrunk the potential mass range for these runts of the particle litter. Neutrinos must have a mass of 1.1 electron volts or less, the researchers…

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Mucus prevents hand sanitizers from quickly killing the flu

Sticky mucus may thwart alcohol-based hand sanitizers’ ability to fight the flu. Flu viruses encased in mucus drops from infected people’s spit can withstand the alcohol in hand sanitizers for more than two minutes, researchers report September 18 in mSphere. Researchers dotted volunteers’ fingers with either mucus or saline solution containing the flu virus, then…

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How an astrophysicist chased a star from the Halo games to real life

The Soell system was the site of a galactic disaster. The ancient Forerunners fought a long war against intelligent parasites called the Flood. As a last resort, the Forerunners built a ring-shaped superweapon orbiting the moon of Soell’s largest planet. Triggering the weapon, the Halo Array, wiped out the Flood, the Forerunners and all other…

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Air pollution can reach the placenta around a developing baby

Breathing in polluted air may send soot far beyond a pregnant woman’s lungs, all the way to the womb surrounding her developing baby. Samples of placenta collected after women in Belgium gave birth revealed soot, or black carbon, embedded within the tissue on the side that faces the baby, researchers report online September 17 in…

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A new book shows how not to fall for dubious statistics

The Art of Statistics David SpiegelhalterBasic Books, $32 There are, as the saying goes, three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics. David Spiegelhalter is here to keep you from being duped by data. If you’re seeking a plain-language intro to statistics, or just want to get better at judging the reliability of numbers…

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

For black holes, it’s tough to stand out from the crowd: Donning a mohawk is a no-no. Ripples in spacetime produced as two black holes merged into one suggest that the behemoths have no “hair,” scientists report in the Sept. 13 Physical Review Letters. That’s another way of saying that, as predicted by Einstein’s general…

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Climate change may be throwing coral sex out of sync

Bad timing for coral sex might be an underappreciated threat of climate change.  Spawning is out of sync for at least three widespread coral species in the Red Sea, says Tom Shlesinger, a marine biologist at Tel Aviv University. And warmer seawater temperatures could be playing a role.   Records from the 1980s suggest that whole…

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

Ancient North American hunter-gatherers had direct contacts with people living halfway across the continent, researchers say. A ceremonial copper object and related burial practices at a roughly 4,000-year-old human grave site encircled by a massive ring of seashells in what’s now the southeastern United States closely correspond to those previously found at hunter-gatherer sites near…

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Astronomers have spotted a second interstellar object

An object that seems to be a comet from around another star is speeding through the solar system. This comet, dubbed C/2019 Q4 (Borisov), marks the second time that astronomers have seen an interstellar visitor on its way past the sun. Ukrainian amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov spotted the comet on August 30. In the days…

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

The world’s most widely used insecticides may delay the migrations of songbirds and hurt their chances of mating.  In the first experiment to track the effects of a neonicotinoid on birds in the wild, scientists captured 24 white-crowned sparrows as they migrated north from Mexico and the southern United States to Canada and Alaska. The…

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50 years ago, polio was still circulating in the United States

Polio could come back, Science News, September 13, 1969 — Only eight cases of paralytic polio have been reported in the entire United States so far in 1969. But … if infants and young children are not vaccinated as they come along, pockets of the disease could get larger. Update The United States saw its…

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Readers ask about aging perceptions, coral reefs and more

Aging mind-set Subtle messages that can shift perceptions of aging in older people from negative to positive might lead to better health, Robin Marantz Henig reported in “Positive attitudes about aging may pay off in better health” (SN: 8/3/19, p. 22). One study reported in the story found that older people exposed subliminally to positive…

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Take a look at us now!

When Science News first went online in 1996, about one-fifth of Americans had access to the internet, and those who did spent very little time there. Dial-up modems were painfully slow. AOL was the largest internet service provider, and Amazon was a start-up online bookseller. In those early days, journalists quickly realized how great the…

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

Two artists who paint with their toes have unusual neural footprints in their brains. Individual toes each take over discrete territory, creating a well-organized “toe map,” researchers report September 10 in Cell Reports. Similar brain organization isn’t thought to exist in people with typical toe dexterity. So finding these specialized maps brings scientists closer to…

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Physicists may be a step closer to solving the mystery of proton size

If protons wore clothing, the label might read “XXS.” For nearly a decade, scientists have been arguing over the size of the puny subatomic particles: extra small, or extra extra small. A new measurement bolsters the case that protons are more petite than once thought, researchers report in the Sept. 6 Science. Until 2010, the…

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Culture helps shape when babies learn to walk

For generations, farther back than anyone can remember, the women in Rano Dodojonova’s family have placed their babies in “gahvoras,” cradles that are part diaper, part restraining device. Dodojonova, a research assistant who lives in Tajikistan, was cradled for the first two or three years of her life. She cradled her three children in the…

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A new prosthetic leg that senses touch reduces phantom pain

A prosthetic leg that can feel helped two men walk faster, more smoothly and with greater confidence. The artificial leg, outfitted with sensors that detect pressure and motion, also curbed phantom pain that came from the men’s missing legs, researchers report online September 9 in Nature Medicine.   Restoring these missing signals may greatly improve…

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Supercooling tripled the shelf life of donor livers

A new technique to keep donor organs colder than ice cold could greatly extend the length of time that those organs are viable for transplant. Typically, donor organs stay viable for several hours on ice at about 4° Celsius. Tissue can last even longer at lower temperatures — but below zero degrees Celsius, the formation…

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Vaping is suspected in a fifth death and hundreds of injuries

U.S. health officials have now reported five deaths from severe lung illnesses tied to vaping, with 450 possible cases of these lung injuries reported in 33 states and one U.S. territory. That’s more than double the 215 cases reported a week ago. It’s unclear whether a particular substance vaped or a type of vaping device…

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The longest Dead Sea Scroll sports a salt finish that the others lack

Decades after the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in desert caves, the ancient manuscripts are still offering surprises. Chemical analysis of the Temple Scroll, the longest of the scrolls, has revealed a salty coating on the text side of the scroll that hasn’t been previously found on the others. This unusual finish suggests that the…

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How Kilauea’s lava fed a massive phytoplankton bloom

Kilauea’s 2018 eruption gave a surprising boost to ocean algae. Metals in the lava could have helped fuel a 150-kilometer-long phytoplankton bloom off the coast of Hawaii — but unexpectedly, heat was an even more important ingredient. Superhot lava interacting with deep ocean water may have churned up buoyant plumes of deep-sea nutrients that kept…

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A new magnetic swirl, or skyrmion, could upgrade data storage

Magnetic swirls called skyrmions have gotten a new twist. Scientists have created a new version of the atomic whirlpools, in which the tiny magnetic fields of individual atoms in a material arrange into a swirl pattern. Known as antiferromagnetic skyrmions, the new structures have some advantages that could make them easier to work with than…

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DNA indicates how ancient migrations shaped South Asian languages and farming

A new DNA study of unprecedented size has unveiled ancient human movements that shaped the genetic makeup of present-day South Asians in complex ways. Those long-ago treks across vast grasslands and through mountain valleys may even have determined the types of languages still spoken in a region that includes what’s now India and Pakistan.  The…

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Einstein’s general relativity reveals new features of a pulsar

Finally, scientists have their finger on the pulse.  Spinning dead stars, known as pulsars, blast powerful beams of radio waves into space. As a pulsar spins, its beams sweep past Earth, producing a pulsating signal similar to a lighthouse’s flashes. Astronomers now have mapped the structure of the beams of one pulsar, using observations made…

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