Science News

Science newspaper is a magazine specializing in Science topics.

Articles from Vol. 176, No. 6, September 12

A Place Removed from 'The Pressure of Received Ideas'
Murray Gell-Mann, winner of the 1969 Nobel Prize in physics for his work on elementary particles (see Page 24 in this issue), was one of the originators of the Santa Fe Institute, an interdisciplinary research center in New Mexico that is celebrating...
Comet Halo Holds Ingredient for Life; Smallest Amino Acid Could Have Extraterrestrial Source
A building block of proteins found in samples from an icy comet's halo suggests that the ingredients of life could have hitched a ride to early Earth, researchers reported August 16. "The early Earth was bombarded with comets and meteorites," said...
Deprived of Any External Cues, People Go Round: Feedback Errors Accumulate as Walkers Try to Go Straight
In one scene of the 1999 movie The Blair Witch Project, three film students searching for a legendary creature hike for hours only to end up at the spot where they had started. Their misfortune is not just a suspenseful twist in a fictional world,...
Flurry of Planets Found at Full Tilt: Violent Interactions May Have Shaped Extrasolar Systems
Call them the wrong-way planets. Several giant, extrasolar planets, all residing within sizzling distance of their parent stars, have orbits so tilted that the planets travel backward relative to their parent stars' rotation, new studies reveal. The...
Forest Birds' Wings Get Makeover, Courtesy of Evolutionary Processes: Logging, Recovery May Play Role in the Degree of Pointiness
When trees fall in the forest, unheard or not, they may reshape birds' wings. As logging whittled away at Canada's vast boreal forest during the past century, bird species that frequent mature woodlands developed somewhat pointier wing tips, Andre...
From Troublemaker to Treatment: Study Finds Estrogen May Fight Persistent Breast Cancer
In some breast cancer patients who have tried every drug treatment short of chemotherapy, estrogen can stall tumor growth, a new study finds. The idea is counterintuitive since estrogen acts as a growth stimulant in most breast cancers. But using...
Gene May Make for Shorter Nights: Variant in People Also Reduces Shut-Eye in Mice, Fruit Flies
Some people have an excuse for getting only six hours of shut-eye each night. One of their genes makes them do it. Two people who sleep about six hours and 15 minutes per night have a rare variant of a gene called DEC2. The variation appears to...
Human Cells Play Simon Says, Too; Research Uncovers Evidence for Mirror Neurons in People
Human see. Human do. Some nerve cells in the brain react either way, just as monkey brain cells do. Macaques have specialized brain cells--called mirror neurons--that activate when the monkeys perform an action involving an object, such as picking...
Little by Little: As Food Allergies Proliferate, New Strategies May Help Patients Ingest Their Way to Tolerance
Considering that food is full of foreign proteins, it makes sense that the intestine is the immune system's version of Grand Central station. It's the largest organ to regularly sweep up and annihilate molecules that don't belong. And because food...
Morality Play: Universal Concerns, Not Cultural Values, May Shape Kids' Developing Notions of Right and Wrong
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] A 10-year-old Chinese boy listens intently as a visiting researcher tells him a story. It begins pleasantly enough: A boy named Xiaoming goes to a park and meets a child...
New Data Show Quickening Loss of Groundwater beneath India: Increased Crop Irrigation Is Depleting Region's Aquifers
Irrigation in northern India in recent decades has pulled water from the ground faster than the region's soaking monsoon rains can replenish it. And satellite data reveal that the pace of extraction has accelerated during that time, scientists report...
New Drug Shown to Preserve Bone: Vertebrae Density Increases in Two High-Risk Populations
A new drug increases bone density and reduces the number of fractures in men fighting prostate cancer and in elderly women with bone loss, researchers report in two studies appearing August 11 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The results...
Save Murray Gell-Mann a Spot in Physics Hall of Fame
If physics had a hall of fame like baseball's, Murray Gell-Mann would not be eligible for admission. That isn't because his achievements don't warrant such recognition. Gell-Mann is one of the legends of physics, a chief architect of the modern...
Styrofoam Degrades in Seawater, Leaving Tiny Contaminants Behind: Study Suggests Styrene Units Are Fouling the Pacific Ocean
From the beer cooler at the bow to flotation devices and bumpers, life on the sea often involves light, white foamed plastic, commonly known by the trademark Styrofoam. But life in the sea encounters the plastic as well. The chemical building blocks...
The Status Quark: Murray Gell-Mann Reflects on Matter's Building Blocks and Scientists' Resistance to New Ideas
When in the course of scientific events it becomes necessary to dissolve allegiances to established beliefs, you can expect to face a lot of flak. New scientific ideas, the German physicist Max Planck once observed, triumph not because of the power...
Tree Keeps Vigil for Extinct Moa; Leaves May Have Defended against Big, Chomping Birds
Odd shape shifts and color changes during a New Zealand tree's lifetime may be a botanical form of paranoia. Skinny, mottled-brown early leaves could still be defending lancewood trees against the long-extinct moa, flightless birds that lived in...