New Zealand’s iconic kiwi birds may be losing their sight

Flightless… and sometimes sightless Joel Sartore, National Geographic Photo Ark By Andy Coghlan Not all birds need to see. Blind but perfectly healthy kiwis have been found living in New Zealand. The flightless nocturnal birds may be evolving to lose their eyesight altogether, suggest the researchers. The blind kiwis seem able to survive just as… Read More

Plan to save Great Barrier Reef from encroaching farm pollution

Millions of tonnes of sludge wash into the reef each year Greening Australia By Alice Klein in Mungalla Station, Australia The sky above is grey and drizzly, but the wetlands are still beautiful to behold. Flocks of magpie geese settle on the glassy water, honking and nibbling at bright green tufts of sedge. I’m at… Read More

OSIRIS-REx spacecraft zooms by Earth on its way to an asteroid

Set course for Bennu NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab By Leah Crane To Bennu and back again! At around 1700 GMT today, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will hurtle around Earth at 8.5 kilometres per second, giving it the boost it needs to reach the asteroid Bennu next August. Since its 2016 launch, the… Read More

Even jellyfish get sluggish if they don’t have enough sleep

Sleeping with the fishes Pete Oxford/Minden Pictures/FLPA RM By Sam Wong Birds do it, bees do it, even enervated fleas do it. Sleep is widely believed to be common to all animals with a central nervous system, but it turns out to be even more ubiquitous than that. Jellyfish have been found to enter a… Read More

Two-colour pixels let you draw pair of images in the same space

Two for the price of one Siwat Kumpookaew/EyeEm/Getty By Leah Crane A new kind of pixel will have you seeing double. Researchers have printed two entirely different images in the same space using special nanomaterials instead of regular inks. Traditionally, a pixel is the smallest controllable piece of a printed picture or an image on… Read More

Our closest star system may be home to a stolen star and planet

The odds of life on Proxima b may have improved ESO/M. Kornmesser By Leah Crane Proxima Centauri may be an interloper from far away. The stellar system closest to Earth consists of three stars: the closely orbiting pair of Alpha Centauri A and B, and an outlier called Proxima Centauri. A new analysis finds that… Read More

Mexico hit by second huge quake caused by same tectonic strain

Rescuers work in the rubble after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck on September 19, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico Rafael S. Fabres/Getty Images By Alice Klein Mexico has been rocked by its second big earthquake in less than two weeks and could be hit by more. The magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck central Mexico just after… Read More

There are hardly any old fish left in the ocean – and that’s bad

No ocean for old fish FLPA/REX/Shutterstock By Michael Tennesen There are not just fewer fish in the sea: there are disproportionately fewer old fish. A study of fisheries in the seas around the US and Europe has found that their populations of ageing fish have been reduced by an average of 72 per cent. The… Read More

World hunger is on the rise again due to climate change and war

War is increasing food insecurity Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images By Andy Coghlan Global hunger is on the rise for the first time in over a decade, thanks to a toxic combination of localised wars aggravated by climate extremes. In 2016, the number of undernourished people increased year on year for the first time since 2003, when… Read More

Facebook allowed adverts to be targeted at ‘Jew haters’

Advertising to the unlikeable Newscast /REX/Shutterstock By Matt Reynolds Facebook allows organisations to target adverts at people who declare an interest in topics such as “how to burn Jews” and “Hitler did nothing wrong”. The investigative news organisation ProPublica reported on Thursday that it was able to use Facebook’s ad-buying service to direct adverts to… Read More

Cassini takes last look at the ring patterns made by mini moons

Spot the strange shape NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute By Mika McKinnon In its final look around the Saturn system, the Cassini spacecraft captured one last image of the propellers nestled in the outermost part of the main rings. These beautiful patterns show up when tiny moonlets disturb the material of the rings. But they’re not just… Read More

Final pictures from Cassini as probe smashes into Saturn

Cassini’s final image of the planet it has called home for 13 years NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute/Jason Major By Leah Crane Cassini is dead; long live Cassini. On the evening of 14 September, the Cassini spacecraft sent back its final images of the Saturn system. Early this morning, it sank into the top of the giant… Read More

Brown dwarfs have strong magnetic fields just like real stars

Chuck Carter and Gregg Hallinan/Caltech By Jesse Emspak A magnetic disturbance has been directly observed on a brown dwarf for the first time, showing that these objects behave more like stars than planets. They exhibit strong magnetic fields and possibly, like stars, interact with the discs of gas and dust that surround them in their… Read More

Watching Cassini’s last moments from inside NASA mission control

The Cassini team says goodbye NASA/Joel Kowsky By Mika McKinnon The Cassini spacecraft’s mission ended in seconds when its signal was lost after entering Saturn’s atmosphere in the early hours of 15 September. But saying goodbye has been a week-long process at Mission Control in Jet Propulsion Laboratories in Pasadena, California. The beginning of the… Read More

Science after Brexit will be weaker all round

Still stronger together Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images AS THE European Union (Withdrawal) Bill wends its way through parliament, the shape of post-Brexit Britain is slowly being revealed. And not before time: as things stand, the UK will drop out of the EU in just 18 months. The scale of the task remains momentous, and there is… Read More

The NHS is using a chatbot to do tedious corporate team-building

Team discussions could be different if a chatbot joins in, but will they get better? sturti/Getty By Timothy Revell Are your colleagues lousy at communicating with each other? A chatbot could help, specifically one called CoachBot. Developed by the London-based HR company Saberr, it asks about workplace dynamics and provides the team with reports. A… Read More

End-of-life chatbot can help you with difficult final decisions

A chatbot could help Hero Images/Getty By Matt Reynolds Could chatbots lend a non-judgemental ear to people making decisions about the end of their life? A virtual agent that helps people have conversations about their funeral plans, wills and spiritual matters is set to be trialled in Boston over the next two years with people… Read More

Kids everywhere have damaging gender stereotyping set by age 10

Strength is for everyone Getty By Andy Coghlan Damaging gender stereotypes are ingrained from the age of 10. That is the conclusion of the first study to draw together data from high, middle and low-income countries across different cultures about how “tweenagers” perceive growing up as a boy or girl. Researchers interviewed 450 children aged 10… Read More

Blind people repurpose the brain’s visual areas for language

The brain’s malleable nature may hold the key to greater independence ABK/BSIP/Superstock By Jessica Hamzelou People who are blind use parts of their brain that normally handle for vision to process language, as well as sounds – highlighting the brain’s extraordinary ability to requisition unused real estate for new functions. Neurons in the part of the… Read More

Liquid cats and arousing crocs bag Ig Nobel prizes

By Leah Crane Cats are liquids, holding a crocodile can make you risk it all on the slots, and lots of people are really disgusted by cheese. All of these scientific results were winners in the 2017 Ig Nobel Awards, which honor strange, funny, and creative research, “achievements that first make people laugh, and then… Read More

Sex and aggression linked in male mouse brains but not in female

Get out of my way! VictorTyakht/Getty By Jessica Hamzelou Aggression and sexual behaviour are controlled by the same brain cells in male mice – but not in females. The finding suggests that males are more likely to become aggressive when they see a potential mate than females. The brain regions that contain these cells look… Read More

No, climate science isn’t wrong, and yes, global warming is real

Kicking old habits is just too hard JGalione/Getty THE Paris Agreement aspires to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. But is this target at all realistic? Climate scientists had estimated that this means we can emit no more than 70 gigatonnes of carbon (GtC) after 2015. At current emission rates, we will pass this… Read More

Could we store carbon dioxide as liquid lakes under the sea?

Sumatra: the Sunda trench lies close by far beneath the ocean Planet Observer/Getty By Michael Marshall Here is a radical solution to dangerous climate change: create lakes of liquid carbon dioxide on the seabed, and keep the greenhouse gas out of the air. As well as cutting our emissions of carbon dioxide, it is becoming… Read More

Thousands likely to be killed by Hurricane Irma’s deadly legacy

People displaced from their homes may have reduced access to their essential goods and medicines Jason Henry/New York Times/Redux/eyevine By Debora MacKenzie About 200 people are thought to have been killed by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in the Caribbean and southern US. But many more will feel knock-on health effects in the coming weeks and… Read More

Secrets of butterfly wing patterns revealed by gene hacking

Wing patterns of a normal Sara Longwing butterfly (left) compared to a mutant butterfly generated with CRISPR (right) Richard Wallbank/Smithsonian Institution and University of Cambridge/PA Wire By New Scientist staff and Press Association Butterfly wings have been given make-overs by scientists who tweaked a “painting gene” to change their patterns and colours. The research has… Read More

Tool-wielding monkeys push local shellfish to edge of extinction

Don’t eat all the shellfish Mark MacEwen / NaturePL By Aylin Woodward HUMANS aren’t the only primate to have pushed their prey towards extinction. Monkeys have also over-exploited animals for food. Long-tailed macaques forage for shellfish on islands off Thailand, then crack them open with stone tools. They target the largest rock oysters, bludgeoning them… Read More

Shaken baby syndrome is not definitive proof of child abuse

Tim Flach/Getty Controversy surrounding “shaken baby syndrome” (SBS) is taking centre stage again. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) meets today with a session underscoring the message that most paediatricians – child abuse specialists among them – say it remains a “valid” diagnosis. In other words, the paediatric community continues to believe that shaking can… Read More

Sacrificial virgin spiders let their nieces eat them alive

Anja Junghanns By Sandhya Sekar Species: Stegodyphus dumicola Habitat: Massive spider webs in southern Africa Advertisement It takes a lot to be a good aunt if you’re a velvet spider. In fact, it takes your internal organs. After tending lovingly to your sisters’ eggs and regurgitating food for newborns, it’s time to offer yourself as… Read More

Mysterious flashing star seems destined for an explosive end

The spiral galaxy NGC 2403, containing the star known as 1954J Martin Pugh/NASA By Josh Sokol Every night, supernova surveys sweep their nets through the dark like fishing trawlers, searching for stars that suddenly brighten. What they find comes back to Earth through emails, text alerts and Twitter. Some of these exploding stars turn out… Read More

This AI reads the news to keep tabs on US police shootings

Safest to do what they say Robert Nickelsberg/Getty By Matt Reynolds Police shootings in the US frequently make local and national headlines, but there is no government-run database of the fatalities. So people are turning to machine learning to make sure no shooting by the police goes unrecorded. Working out how many people in the… Read More

Moldy Rock Pulled from 2,500 Feet Underground

Credit: Drake et al. 2017. Nuclear waste repositories are not known for curb appeal. Yet they are unpleasant necessities for enlightened nations seeking to stow the waste of one of the only relatively carbon-neutral fuels on Earth. As a result, engineers have often sought to bury the stuff. In the United States, some of our… Read More

The Fourth TetZooCon

Those of you in the UK – or within easy reach of it – will doubtless be interested in attending the Tetrapod Zoology-themed event of the year, by which I of course mean TetZooCon, a conference that includes material on anything and everything to do with the evolutionary history, biology, behaviour, ecology and conservation of… Read More

When Should You Have Your Prostate Checked?

There’s no doubt that female doctors are especially in demand. This is because women tend to search for female doctors. But what about men? Do they tend to have a preference? I’ve heard both sides of the camp. I’d love to hear from you in your comments here or on my Facebook page. Here’s a… Read More

How strongly is NATO ally Turkey pivoting to Russia and Iran?

September 22, 2017 Istanbul, Turkey—Setting aside years of increasing Turkey-US hostility, President Trump’s introductory remarks for the cameras were glowing as he met Turkey’s controversial President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan one-on-one, winding up a flurry of bilateral diplomacy on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly’s annual opening in New York. Mr. Erdoğan is “running a very difficult… Read More

Progress toward peace

September 21, 2017 —For nations to move forward and find peace and stability after war, an awakening to the need to unify rather than divide is important. Often that comes through a realism born of necessity, but lasting peace is spawned by a realism based on something more than human willpower and desire, no matter… Read More

Fossilized Poo Reveals Vegetarian Dinosaurs Had a Taste for Crabs

Plant-eating dinosaurs usually found plenty to eat, but occasionally they went looking for a nutritional boost. Fossilized dinosaur droppings from Utah now reveal that 75 million years ago, some of the animals were snacking on prehistoric crayfish or crabs. The work suggests that big herbivorous dinosaurs sometimes munched on crustaceans, likely to get extra protein… Read More

'Little Soldiers' examines the Chinese education system from the inside

September 21, 2017 —Born in Philadelphia, reared in a Houston suburb, Stanford- and Columbia-educated, journalist Lenora Chu has a resume that – at first glance – looks very American. But her “connection to China came by birthright”: she’s “a direct descendant of the founding emperor of the Ming dynasty.” Chu’s parents’ families fled China’s Cultural… Read More

In Germany's east, populist vote finds root in reunification woes

September 21, 2017 GROßDUBRAU, Germany—“Traitor!” “Merkel, out!” The anger, boos, and whistles greeting Angela Merkel in Germany’s east earlier this month are not the sort of reception many outside observers expect the country’s popular chancellor to receive. But not so for people like Regina Bernstein, who lives near this small village of 4,200 at the… Read More

Aid to North Koreans? The idea has roots.

September 21, 2017 —In a surprise move that seems at odds with Washington’s threatening stance toward North Korea, the government of South Korea announced Sept. 21 that it plans to resume humanitarian aid to its neighbor. This comes despite the North’s rapid-paced testing of longer-range missiles and stronger nuclear weapons. It also seems to contradict… Read More

Lessons in identity from Kurds and Catalans

September 20, 2017 —One of the defining challenges in the 21st century has been how to balance demands for independence by certain peoples with the sanctity of national borders. Just in the coming days alone, two regions with distinct identities, Catalonia in Spain and the Kurdish area in Iraq, plan to stage referendums on independence.… Read More

Puerto Ricans vow to rebuild after Maria devastates the island

September 21, 2017 San Juan, Puerto Rico—Tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans stunned by a hurricane that knocked out power for the whole island and paralyzed the United States territory with landslides, flooding, and downed trees vowed to slowly rebuild amid an economic crisis as rescue crews fanned out Thursday. The extent of the damage… Read More

Trump makes decision on Iran nuclear deal, stays quiet on details

September 21, 2017 New York—President Trump has determined how he wants to approach the Iran nuclear deal – which he has called the worst agreement ever negotiated by the United States – but has not told even his top national security advisers what his decision is. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that Mr.… Read More

Why the Supreme Court is rarely in the dock

September 22, 2017 —Polls of Americans consistently show they put more trust in the Supreme Court than in the two elected branches of government (Congress and the presidency). Now a new poll may explain why the high court still enjoys legitimacy as the nation’s final arbiter of constitutional principles. When asked what they would do… Read More

Trump's diplomatic dance on Iran: What's his next step?

September 22, 2017 United Nations, NY—Like DACA, like … the Iran nuclear deal? As he considers what to do about the 2015 international agreement with Iran that he disdains, President Trump may be about to lob the ball into the international community’s court. Rather than pulling the United States out of the deal as he… Read More

As Fed normalizes policy, economy’s ‘new normal’ is anything but.

September 20, 2017 —The Great Recession is over. More people are working than ever before. Unemployment is back to pre-recession lows. Average housing prices are at record highs. So is the stock market. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve announced it, too, was moving on, preparing finally to whittle away its huge $4.5 trillion portfolio of… Read More

Amid Pyongyang’s nuclear threat, Seoul resumes humanitarian aid

September 21, 2017 Seoul, South Korea —South Korea on Thursday decided to resume humanitarian aid to North Korea to help children and pregnant women, but didn’t determine when to provide the $8 million worth of assistance amid tensions created by Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests. Still, the decision is ensured to trigger heated political debates… Read More

The growing Democratic divide

September 22, 2017 Washington—Nancy Pelosi likely never dreamed that the DREAMers would turn on her. But that’s what happened. Days after the top House Democrat and her Senate counterpart struck a deal with President Trump to help young illegal immigrants gain legal status, several dozen immigration activists overwhelmed a press conference she was holding on… Read More

10 best books of September: the Monitor's picks

September 21, 2017 1. ‘Draft No. 4,’ by John McPhee When a master of his craft offers advice, it’s folly not to listen. Which is why no one with any interest in writing should fail to pick up this collection of eight essays by longtime New Yorker writer John McPhee. McPhee walks readers through what… Read More

Trump's Breathtaking Hypocrisy on Coal Mining

Pres. Donald Trump’s contempt for climate change science is well known. Now we see that his administration has put on hold a study of the connections between mountaintop coal mining and the health of nearby communities—research that was requested by West Virginia health authorities and is being conducted by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering… Read More

The story behind DC Diaper Bank, a resource for parents

September 22, 2017 Silver Spring, Md.—Corinne Cannon remembers well an especially challenging night when her first child, Jack, was an infant. He was a high-needs baby, she recalls, and she was unable to get him to stop crying and settle down – leaving her feeling frustrated and helpless. The evening prompted Ms. Cannon to consider… Read More

Pakistan breaks down gender barriers, one bike at a time

September 21, 2017 Islamabad, Pakistan—For Senam Khan, one of the founders of a bike sharing scheme on a Pakistani university campus, the start-up has had unexpected – and welcome – consequences. The aim of the five young entrepreneurs who conceived the sharing scheme, named CYKIQ, was to solve the problem of covering long distances on… Read More

Once more with feeling: Republicans launch another attempt at health care repeal

September 21, 2017 Washington—It’s divisive and difficult, but the Republican drive to erase the Obama health care overhaul has gotten a huge boost from one of Washington’s perennial incentives: political necessity. In the two months since Senate Republicans lost their initial attempt to scuttle Former President Barack Obama’s statute, there’s fresh evidence GOP voters are… Read More

Google gets closer to launching its own line of smart devices

September 21, 2017 San Francisco—Google is biting off a big piece of device manufacturer HTC for $1.1 billion to expand its efforts to build phones, speakers, and other gadgets equipped with its arsenal of digital services. It’s buying the HTC engineering team that built the Pixel smartphone for Google in a cash deal, the companies… Read More

Should Apple iPhone X Trust Facial Recognition for Security?

Your face is the future of smartphone security. Apple made that clear last week when it unveiled the pricey iPhone X, which trades in the familiar home button and TouchID fingerprint scanner for a new camera system that unlocks the device using facial recognition. The company has repeatedly proved its ability to push emerging technology… Read More

Uber loses its license in London, deemed not safe enough

September 22, 2017 London—London deemed Uber unfit to run a taxi service on Friday and stripped it of its license to operate from the end of next week in a major blow to the US firm and 3.5 million users in one of the world’s wealthiest cities. The capital’s transport regulator said the Silicon Valley… Read More

Kenyan election board delays repeat election date

September 22, 2017 Nairobi, Kenya—Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Thursday the country’s Supreme Court staged a “coup” against the will of the people when it annulled his win in last month’s presidential election, his toughest rhetoric yet in the wake of the Aug. 8 vote. His remarks came on the same day that the… Read More

Is it the Kremlin’s turn to get WikiLeaked?

September 21, 2017 Moscow—It’s been seven years since WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange threatened to drop an information bombshell on the Kremlin that would show Russians the inner workings of their government and business world. That threat never materialized, though a handful of fairly tame Russia-related documents were published.  WikiLeaks went on to publish hundreds of thousands… Read More

Fossilized Poo Reveals that Vegetarian Dinosaurs had a Taste for Crabs

Plant-eating dinosaurs usually found plenty to eat, but occasionally they went looking for a nutritional boost. Fossilized dinosaur droppings from Utah now reveal that 75 million years ago, some of the animals were snacking on prehistoric crayfish or crabs. The work suggests that big herbivorous dinosaurs sometimes munched on crustaceans, likely to get extra protein… Read More

Congress criticizes Equifax data breach, but tighter regulations aren't likely

September 22, 2017 Washington—Prospects are good for a public shaming in the Equifax data breach, but it’s unlikely Congress will institute sweeping new regulations after hackers accessed the personal information of an estimated 143 million Americans. Since early this year, President Trump and the Republican-led Congress have strived to curb government’s influence on businesses, arguing… Read More

As debate rages on, DeVos revises guidelines on campus sexual assault

On Friday, the Department of Education announced that it is officially withdrawing Obama-era Title IX guidance, offering alternative guidelines instead that will be in place until after the current period of public comment.  September 22, 2017 —Schools investigating claims of sexual misconduct will no longer be required to adhere to Obama-era federal guidelines, the Department… Read More

Letter from Mexico: Lessons in a quake zone

September 21, 2017 Mexico City—Back in 2013, I was in Mexico City for a work trip when the light fixtures started swaying in a ground-floor hotel restaurant. In the United States, we’re taught to find a sturdy table to crouch under, or a doorframe to stand in when the earth starts to tremble. So, I… Read More

ISIS has planted a ticking bomb that is hard to defuse: traumatized children

September 21, 2017 Amman, Jordan—In camps for internally displaced persons and in the war-torn towns and villages of western Iraq, there is one legacy of the so-called Islamic State’s brutal reign whose magnitude experts and authorities are only beginning to understand: traumatized children. From the stateless children of ISIS members, to child soldiers and the… Read More

Time for the world to step up on Rohingya issue, Aung San Suu Kyi’s astounding hypocrisy, Irma’s destruction in Britain’s Caribbean islands, The US should stop saber rattling, On the Nadal-Federer comeback

September 23, 2017 The Jerusalem Post / JerusalemTime for the world to step up on Rohingya issue “It is high time the world made an all-out effort to stop the ongoing pogrom against Myanmar’s minority Rohingya…,” writes Mohammad Amjad Hossain. “The pogrom resembles those crimes perpetrated against Jews…. The military junta of Myanmar torches Rohingya… Read More

Beyond the earthquake

September 22, 2017 —I was living in Los Angeles when the Northridge earthquake struck in January 1994. While the effects of Northridge can’t begin to compare with those of Mexico’s recent quakes, I did learn something that can help inspire prayers for the victims. For me, the most unsettling element of the Northridge quake wasn’t… Read More

If at First You Don't Succeed, Show Your Baby Again

Opening a jar of pickles should not be that difficult. And while you are busy mumbling, grimacing, hopping on one foot and holding the jar against your hip until the lid pops open, a young brain may be analyzing the spectacle and learning from it. Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found infants who… Read More

Building a Better Mirror for Telescopes

To study the heavens, it’s all about the photons. “We in astronomy are always greedy. We want every photon we can collect.” Drew Phillips, astronomer at University of California Observatories. More photons, he says, basically means more science about incredibly faint, distant objects. And that’s where the optics problem comes in. Because incoming light reflects… Read More

U.S. Safety Board Says Train-Crash Engineers Had Undiagnosed Sleep Disorders

WASHINGTON, Sept 21 (Reuters) – The engineers in two New York City area commuter train crashes suffered from undiagnosed sleep disorders, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said on Thursday. The board plans to hold a Feb. 6 meeting on the September 2016 crash in Hoboken, New Jersey, that killed one person and injured more… Read More

Galaxies Far, Far Away Send Us Highest-Energy Cosmic Rays

Take any square kilometer of Earth’s surface. About once a year an extraordinary event occurs in the sky directly above that patch of land or sea: the hefty nucleus of a heavy element slams into the top of Earth’s atmosphere at close to the speed of light. Scientists have been unable to tell where these… Read More

High-Energy Cosmic Rays Come from Outside Our Galaxy

The Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina finally has solid evidence that the most energetic particles in nature come from sources outside the Milky Way. Scientists have suspected this for decades, but weren’t able to confirm it—until now. “For the first time, we have proof that the highest-energy cosmic rays are of extragalactic origin,” says Alan… Read More

Scientists Closing in on the Dawn of Plate Tectonics

Geologists think early Earth may have looked much like Iceland—where jet-black lava fields extend as far as the eye can see, inky mountainsides rise steeply above the clouds and stark black-sand beaches outline the land. But over time the world gradually became less bleak. Today Earth also harbors light-colored rocks, like the granite that composes… Read More

Why the Mexico City Earthquake Shook Up Disaster Predictions

[Editor’s note: This story was updated on Sept 22 to accurately state the years between the 1985 and 2017 quakes.] Mexico City is badly rattled. On Tuesday—32 years to the day after a giant earthquake killed as many as 10,000 people in this very place—seismologists and city dwellers got another major shock. A rupture in a… Read More

En Route to Asteroid, NASA's OSIRIS-REx Mission Will Fly by Earth

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will make a close flyby of Earth before shooting out toward the asteroid Bennu, and skywatchers will have the opportunity to wave goodbye to the probe as it passes overhead.  The OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer) mission launched on Sept. 8, 2016, to study and collect a sample… Read More

Binary Giant Black Holes Spotted at Galaxy's Core

Not one but two gigantic black holes lurk at the heart of the distant spiral galaxy NGC 7674, a new study suggests. These two supermassive black holes are separated by less than 1 light-year and together harbor about 40 million times the mass of the sun, researchers said. If it holds up, the find would… Read More

How to Explore Otherworldly Oceans

The tools we build to explore our deep oceans might one day explore ocean world across the solar system. A new observatory called ABISS that can transmit video and long-term chemical measurements at broadband speeds from the seafloor using a system of flashing lights instead of a traditional tether. Full Story Here Sciam September 22,… Read More

Arecibo Observatory Closed by Hurricane Maria

The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico remained offline today (Sept. 21) after Hurricane Maria battered the island on Wednesday, leaving a trail of destruction that included a total loss of power. The Arecibo Observatory, in Puerto Rico’s northwest, houses the world’s second-largest radio telescope. While the facility has been closed all week for the hurricane,… Read More

Cities and States Are Picking Up Trump's Slack on Climate

With the Trump administration keeping noticeably mum on climate change throughout this year’s U.N. week, U.S. cities, businesses and states were busy auditioning for understudy. Cities including Boston, Los Angeles and New York City outlined plans to further the objectives of the Paris climate agreement. Corporations, too, voiced their support for climate action and opposition… Read More

Sexual Competition Among Ducks Wreaks Havoc on Penis Size

Male ducks respond to sexual competition by growing either an extra-long penis or a nub of flesh, a new study finds. The unusual phenomena occurred in two species studied: the lesser scaup (Aythya affinis) and the ruddy duck (Oxyura jamaicensis). It suggests that penis size—in line with many traits and behaviours meant to impress or… Read More

Cities Sue Big Oil for Damages from Rising Seas

Top lawyers for Oakland and San Francisco in California announced yesterday that they filed lawsuits against five of the world’s biggest oil companies for damages related to climate change. Barbara Parker, Oakland city attorney, said the legal action is meant to make the companies pay the “cost of protecting the people and the property of… Read More

The Monster Hurricanes of 2017

Scientific American is part of Springer Nature, which owns or has commercial relations with thousands of scientific publications (many of them can be found at www.springernature.com/us). Scientific American maintains a strict policy of editorial independence in reporting developments in science to our readers. Full Story Here Sciam September 22, 2017 8:41 am Support Us

Some of the Best Parts of Autonomous Vehicles Are Already Here

The following essay is reprinted with permission from The Conversation, an online publication covering the latest research. Fully automated cars are still many years away. Amid the government activity and potential for social benefits, it’s important not to lose sight of smaller improvements that could more immediately save lives and reduce injuries and economic costs of… Read More

Jellyfish Caught Snoozing Give Clues to Origin of Sleep

The purpose and evolutionary origins of sleep are among the biggest mysteries in neuroscience. Every complex animal, from the humblest fruit fly to the largest blue whale, sleeps—yet scientists can’t explain why any organism would leave itself vulnerable to predators, and unable to eat or mate, for a large portion of the day. Now, researchers… Read More

What Can You Do for a Fatty Liver?

Nutrition Diva Monica Reinagel Monica Reinagel, MS,LD/N, CNS, is a board-certified, licensed nutritionist and professionally trained chef, author of Nutrition Diva’s Secrets for a Healthy Diet, and host of the Nutrition Diva podcast on Quick and Dirty Tips. Recent Articles Full Story Here Sciam September 22, 2017 7:35 am Support Us

Prepping for Alien Oceans, NASA Goes Deep

In late 2012 NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope spotted what appeared to be plumes of water vapor spewing from the frozen surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa. Another observation last year provided more evidence this was not a fluke. It is likely that below that distant world’s ice is an ocean larger than all of Earth’s combined.… Read More

Scientists Closing in on Dawn of Plate Tectonics

Geologists think early Earth may have looked much like Iceland—where jet-black lava fields extend as far as the eye can see, inky mountainsides rise steeply above the clouds and stark black-sand beaches outline the land. But over time the world gradually became less bleak. Today Earth also harbors light-colored rocks, like the granite that composes… Read More

What Companies Are Leading the Way in Wireless Charging Technology?

In my Scientific American column this month, I tried to figure out what’s holding up distance-charging technologies, which purport to recharge your phone, tablet, watch, fitness band, and so on through the air.Here’s a status snapshot of the companies leading the way. PowerCast. Shipping FCC-approved distance charging products since 2010—for industrial use. Sends only microwatts… Read More

Didn't Scientists Already Know Where Cosmic Rays Come From?

Every second, the Earth is bombarded by thousands of tiny atomic nuclei called cosmic rays. Most of them scatter in the upper atmosphere miles above the Earth’s surface before ever reaching us, although a stray one occasionally gets through, hits a computer and scrambles a few bits. These dime-a-dozen cosmic rays originate either from the… Read More

Impulsivity and procrastination

Impulsivity and procrastination are highly correlated. Both have been attributed to a lack of self-control resulting in difficulties in achieving long-term goals. Liu and Feng have discovered that these behaviors are both linked to an overlapping region of the brain called the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. During brain scanning, measures of impulsivity and procrastination were… Read More

Sleight of hand

Daniel Casasanto On the Other Hand: Left Hand, Right Brain, Mental Disorder, and History Howard I. Kushner Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017. 216 pp. The reviewer is at the Department of Human Development, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA. Email: casasanto{at}alum.mit.edu Full Story Here Science Mag September 21, 2017 6:31 pm Support Us

Saving the saola from extinction

Letters Andrew Tilker1,2,*, Barney Long2, Thomas N.E. Gray3, William Robichaud4, Thinh Van Ngoc5, Nguyen Vu Linh6, Jeff Holland7, Stephen Shurter8, Pierre Comizzoli9, Patrick Thomas10, Radoslaw Ratajszczak11, James Burton12 1Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Berlin 10315, Germany. 2Global Wildlife Conservation, Austin, TX 78767, USA. 3Wildlife Alliance, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 4Saola Working Group c/o Global… Read More

How ApoE4 endangers brains

Summary Since 1993, when the apolipoprotein E4 (ApoE4) genetic variant was found to multiply the risk of the most common form of Alzheimer’s disease as much as fourfold, researchers have probed its connections to the protein fragment β-amyloid, the dominant suspect for the cause of the illness. This week, however, a new study showed that ApoE4‘s most toxic effects may result from a… Read More

Sociotechnical transitions for deep decarbonization

Summary Rapid and deep reductions in greenhouse gas emission are needed to avoid dangerous climate change. This will necessitate low-carbon transitions across electricity, transport, heat, industrial, forestry, and agricultural systems. But despite recent rapid growth in renewable electricity generation, the rate of progress toward this wider goal of deep decarbonization remains slow. Moreover, many policy-oriented… Read More

Why is the flu vaccine so mediocre?

Summary With flu season around the corner in the United States and Europe, the push has begun once again to encourage people to receive their annual shots. But over the past few years, it’s become increasingly clear that the level of protection offered by the vaccine varies widely each flu season, from 10% to 60%.… Read More

Researchers parse ecosystems fueled by chemistry, not light

Summary When the first deep-sea vent creatures came into view 40 years ago through a porthole of the submersible Alvin, everyone was speechless, as no one expected to find life thousands of meters deep. This luxuriant ecosystem clustered around volcanic vents did not draw sustenance from the sunlit world, like most living things. Instead, these… Read More

Russia heightens defenses against climate change

Summary Earlier this month, Russia’s prosecutor’s office demanded that the environment ministry take steps to increase the accuracy of weather forecasts in light of a changing climate. The new charge reflects a sea change in Russia’s views about climate change and how the nation must respond. Until recently, tackling climate change was a low priority… Read More

A legacy of discovery

Summary Over 13 years and 293 orbits, Cassini produced more than 450,000 images. They exposed a Saturn system rich with mystery—and two potentially habitable moons. The insights began with the Huygens probe, dropped on Titan—Saturn’s largest moon—revealing a world of hydrocarbons, and continued on to Enceladus, a tiny frozen moon, where Cassini spotted jets of… Read More

A fiery finish to Cassini's long run at Saturn

Summary Last week, after 13 years of exploration, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft plunged into the upper reaches of Saturn’s atmosphere at 123,000 kilometers per hour and melted away. The spacecraft’s demise, necessitated by dwindling fuel and a need to protect two of Saturn’s 62 moons from potential microbial contamination from Earth, brought forth a global outpouring… Read More

News at a glance

Summary In science news around the world, the U.S. federal government targets four national monuments for downsizing, Romania slashes its science budget, and a sexual harassment case roils the University of Rochester in New York. Also, the National Institute of Standards and Technology gets a new leader, and the former head of the Centers for… Read More

Death watch for climate probe

Summary The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), which has monitored minute shifts in Earth’s gravity to reveal the unexpectedly rapid melt of polar ice sheets and the drawdown of underground aquifers, will soon make its final science run, NASA announced last week. After running a decade beyond its planned life, one of its tandem… Read More

New angle on cosmic rays

Summary Cosmic rays are nuclei that have been accelerated to relativistic velocities by astrophysical sources, arriving at Earth after traversing the space between us and the source. As electrically charged particles, they are deflected by magnetic fields, which scramble their directions in space (1). Finding deviations from the highly isotropic angular distribution of high-energy cosmic… Read More

MicroRNA processing (phase) separated

Paraspeckles are ribonucleoprotein structures inside mammalian cell nuclei. Despite their high abundance in multiple tissues and cell types, their cellular function is not completely clear. Jiang et al. show that paraspeckles enhance global microRNA maturation. RNA and protein components of paraspeckles recruit the microRNA precursors and processing machinery. This enrichment seems to help achieve the… Read More

The legacy of the Spanish flu

Summary Between 1918 and 1920, the Spanish flu infected a third of the global popula­tion. It claimed more lives than either World War I or World War II. Nearly a century later, we are still strug­gling to understand the extent of this pandemic. It crops up from time to time in popular science and history,… Read More

China's childhood experiment

Summary There is an enormous economic gap between China’s booming coastal regions and its impoverished interior. And the disparity in economics is reflected in differing approaches to raising young children. The urban middle class embraces modern parenting with intense interaction between parents and children. Rural caregivers unknowingly fail to provide the intellectual and social stimulation… Read More

Editorial expression of concern

In the 15 September issue, Science published the Report “Biological fabrication of cellulose fibers with tailored properties” by F. Natalio et al. (1). After the issue went to press, we became aware of errors in the labeling and/or identification of the pigments used for the control experiments detailed in figs. S1 and S2 of the… Read More

Toward pesticidovigilance

Summary Agricultural pesticides are an important component of intensive agriculture and, therefore, of global food production. In the European Union, ∼500 active substances used in pesticides are approved, including insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, and plant growth regulators. When used at industrial scales, pesticides can harm the environment (1), but there is a trade-off between this effect… Read More

Addressing scientific integrity scientifically

Letters Tony Mayer1,4,*, Lex Bouter2,4, Nick Steneck3,4 1Nanyang Technological University, Singapore 639798, Singapore. 2Vrije Universiteit, 1081 HV Amsterdam, Netherlands. 3University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA. 4Co-Chair, Fifth World Conference on Research Integrity. ↵* Corresponding author. Email: tonymayer{at}ntu.edu.sg See allHide authors and affiliations Science  22 Sep 2017:Vol. 357, Issue 6357, pp. 1248-1249DOI: 10.1126/science.aap9097 Full… Read More

Carbon capture from the industrial sector

Cement factories are prime targets for the installation of carbon capture technology. PHOTO: NICK GARBUTT/GETTY IMAGES Carbon capture aims to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere. This carbon dioxide can then be either stored or used (for example, as a chemical feedstock). Most studies have focused on carbon dioxide emissions… Read More

RNA localization feeds translation

Summary The digestive tract has to cope with the challenge of functioning efficiently despite irregular cycles of eating and fasting. Digestion and absorption of nutrients require large quantities of proteins, mainly enzymes and transporters (1). Although these proteins must be available in the epithelial cells that line the stomach and intestines within minutes upon feeding,… Read More

The social origins of persistence

Summary Effort and hard work have long been regarded as key to achievement and success. But individuals hold different beliefs about how important effort is in determining success, relative to pure talent or natural skill. Recent research has shown that holding a growth mindset—that is, a set of beliefs that emphasize the malleability of intelligence… Read More

Electrochemically driven box-weaving

Woven textures within a molecular material can potentially affect strength and toughness. Champsaur et al. describe the electrochemical crystallization of polymer stands that adopt a box-weave structure through electrostatic assembly. Trans-substituted Co6Se8(PEt3)4(CNC6H4NC)2 (where Et is ethyl) oxidizes to form polymer strands through isonitrile-cobalt bond formation. These cationic strands assemble electrostatically with a Lundqvist dianion, Mo6O192−.… Read More

Advances in organ transplant from pigs

Summary Xenotransplantation, where tissue from one species is transplanted into a different species, is currently under development to help alleviate the increasing shortage of human tissues and organs for transplantation to treat organ failure. For several reasons, which include the size and physiology of the organs, the ease of genetic modification and cloning, and the… Read More

Neuroinflammation abetted by ILCs

The transcription factor T-bet is critical for the establishment of immunopathology in mouse models of multiple sclerosis (MS). T-bet is known to intensify the inflammatory potential of T helper 17 (TH17) cells, which are central players in MS. However, Kwong et al. find that the activity of T-bet in T cells is insufficient for the… Read More

Too many bad seeds

Low usage rates of modern agricultural technology in sub-Saharan Africa may reflect poor quality of the tools, which provide little incentive for farmers to adopt them. Studying maize cultivation in Uganda, Bold et al. found through laboratory testing that 30% of nutrient was missing in common urea fertilizer and that common hybrid seed contained less… Read More

Angular momentum can slow down photoemission

Summary Photoemission spectroscopy, where the absorption of an energetic photon by a material results in the emission of an electron, is an invaluable source of information about electronic structure. Electrons gain their kinetic energies by interacting with both light and their surroundings. In a solid, for example, this makes it possible to measure band energies,… Read More

Embryo edit makes human 'knockout

Summary For the first time, scientists have used gene-editing techniques on human embryos to probe how they develop. The study is an important proof of principle; previous human embryo–editing research has focused instead on correcting faulty genes. The new experiments are also a first test of the United Kingdom’s carefully crafted embryo-editing research regulations, which require that researchers undergo a… Read More

Two of a kind

Kerguelen shag pairs forage in similar ways. PHOTO: ELODIE CAMPRASSE Mated pairs of birds could potentially compete with each other for food. Differences in foraging behavior between males and females tend to develop to avoid such competition. Kerguelen shags form lifelong pairs. Camprasse et al. found that the male and female shags have quite similar… Read More

North Korea ban blocks humanitarians

Letters Taehoon KimDoDaum, New York, NY 11356, USA.Email: admin{at}dodaum.com See allHide authors and affiliations Science  22 Sep 2017:Vol. 357, Issue 6357, pp. 1249DOI: 10.1126/science.aao4961 Full Story Here Science Mag September 21, 2017 5:01 pm Support Us

NASA Ready for Any US Pivot to Moon Return

Ellen Ochoa, the NASA space center director and four-time astronaut, said NASA is prepared to return to the moon if a presidential administration decides to do so. NASA has been preparing for a journey to Mars in the 2030s, but now Trump appointees are saying humans may return to the moon before that trip, according… Read More

Warm Waters off West Coast Has Lingering Effects for Salmon

SEATTLE — The mass of warm water known as “the blob” that heated up the North Pacific Ocean has dissipated, but scientists are still seeing the lingering effects of those unusually warm sea surface temperatures on Pacific Northwest salmon and steelhead. Federal research surveys this summer caught among the lowest numbers of juvenile coho and… Read More

Report: Scientists 'Hacked' Brain, Controlled Body

Scientists have managed to remotely control a brain, forcing test-subject mice to run, freeze in place and even lose control over their limbs, according to new research. The study, published in the most recent edition of the journal eLife, was led by physics professor Arnd Pralle of the University at Buffalo College of Arts and… Read More

US on Verge of 'Facial Recognition' Revolution

Facial recognition technology is in use all over the globe — and ready to change the world, NBC News reported. The latest sign of the revolution came with announcement new iPhones are using the technology. But NBC News reported in China, the technology is already in office buildings and at ATM machines, while high-end European… Read More

Researchers Find Cosmic Dust in UK

Scientists have discovered 87-million-year-old space dust in the White Cliffs of Dover in the U.K., according to research published early September in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters. Researchers from Imperial College London in the U.K. found 76 particles of fossilized cosmic dust embedded in the limestone, which could shed light on the early… Read More

Researchers Find Cosmic Dust in UK

Scientists have discovered 87-million-year-old space dust in the White Cliffs of Dover in the U.K., according to research published early September in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters. Researchers from Imperial College London in the U.K. found 76 particles of fossilized cosmic dust embedded in the limestone, which could shed light on the early… Read More

Researchers Find Cosmic Dust in UK

Scientists have discovered 87-million-year-old space dust in the White Cliffs of Dover in the U.K., according to research published early September in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters. Researchers from Imperial College London in the U.K. found 76 particles of fossilized cosmic dust embedded in the limestone, which could shed light on the early… Read More

Study: Our Antidepressants Get Into Brains of Great Lakes Fish

High concentrations of antidepressant ingredients and their byproducts have been found in the brains of fish in the Great Lakes, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. Major pollutants observed were the antidepressants citalopram, paroxetine, sertraline, venlafaxine, and bupropion, and their metabolites norfluoxetine and norsertraline, and the antihistamine diphenhydramine. A… Read More

CIA Tech Leader: AI Can Be 'Process No One Understands'

The CIA’s head of technology development says staying ahead of Russia and China is not as tough as getting U.S. leaders to listen to their own artificial intelligence analysis, Defense One reported. “I just want to go faster than [Russia and China] can keep up,” Dawn Meyerriecks, the CIA’s deputy director for science and technology,… Read More

Trump Congratulates Astronauts: 'They Make Us All Very Proud'

President Donald Trump on Sunday congratulated two astronauts who returned to earth, telling them in a phone call, ‘They make us very proud.” Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer returned late Saturday after extended stays at the International Space Station. Whitson set records for the longest time in space: 665 total days, and 288 days on… Read More

Apple Urges FCC to 'Retain Strong, Enforceable Open Internet Protections'

Apple broke its silence on net neutrality and urged the Federal Communications Commission in a filing to “retain strong, enforceable open internet protections,” CNN reported last week. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has plans to do away with net neutrality rules that have been in place for the last three years, and argues the rules are… Read More

New Space Sound Bursts Have Scientists Puzzled

A new burst of 15 short pulses of radio emission from a distant galaxy have astronomers wondering if they are from rapidly spinning neutron stars or black holes — or are signs of spacecraft from alien civilizations, CBC News reported. The new fast radio burst — FRB 121102 — just milliseconds long, is the only known… Read More

3-Mile Asteroid Florence to Be Closest to Earth Friday

A three-mile-wide asteroid will sail past Earth on Friday — the largest object to make a close-encounter, albeit 4.4 million miles away, since NASA began tracking the events in the 1990s. Asteroid Florence was named after modern nursing founder Florence Nightingale, and was discovered in 1981 by astronomer Schelte Bus from the Siding Spring Observatory… Read More