Science

6:19pm

Wed June 5, 2013
Science

Tiny, Ancient Tree-Dweller Was One of Earth's Earliest Primates

Originally published on Wed June 5, 2013 6:59 pm

Artistic reconstruction of Archicebus achilles in its natural habitat of trees.
Xijun Ni Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

The origin of the first primates — the group that includes humans, apes and monkeys — is thought to lie in the deep past, about 55 million years ago.

Fossils from that period are rare. But now, there's an exciting new one. It's called Archicebus achilles, roughly meaning "beginning long-tailed monkey." Actually, this creature lived before the monkeys we know of today, a mere 10 million years after the dinosaurs died out.

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11:33am

Wed June 5, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Other Planets: From Speculation To Confirmation

This illustration shows the relative sizes of the habitable-zone planets Kepler-22b, Kepler-69c, Kepler-62e, Kepler-62f and the Earth.
NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

Last week NASA scientists put the space telescope Kepler in a kind of technological coma. The craft, designed to search for Earth-like planets orbiting stars in our cosmic neighborhood (within a few thousand light-years, that is), failed and seems to be unfixable. (Hope remains, though.)

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10:57am

Wed June 5, 2013
The Salt

Let Them Eat Wood! (If It's Turned Into Starch)

Originally published on Thu June 6, 2013 4:52 pm

Scientists have figured out out how to turn cellulose from wood, bushes and grasses into edible starch.
iStockphoto.com

For Percival Zhang, growing up in China meant learning to appreciate just how critical a stable food supply is to avoiding social unrest and disasters like famine.

When he became an associate professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech, he got to thinking just how risky growing food has become because of the finite resources it requires: land, water, seeds and fertilizer.

Plenty of other plants on Earth, on the other hand, aren't so demanding.

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10:10am

Wed June 5, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

MIT's Magic Bag Of Sand

Originally published on Wed June 5, 2013 10:48 am

NMANewsDirect You Tube

4:20pm

Tue June 4, 2013
The Salt

Can Going Vegetarian Help You Live Longer? Maybe

Originally published on Wed June 5, 2013 10:18 am

PETA members hold placards on the street in Johannesburg.
Themba Hadebe AP

If you're looking for the definitive study that might persuade meat lovers to become vegetarians, this may not be it.

New research published in JAMA Internal Medicine finds that vegetarian diets are linked to a slightly lower risk of early death — about 12 percent lower over a period of about six years of follow-up. But the link to longevity was more significant in men compared with women.

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3:31pm

Tue June 4, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Putting The Fun Back Into Fundamental Science

The line stretches down the block ahead of an event during the 2012 Seattle Science Festival. The 2013 festival runs from June 6 through June 16.
Courtesy of Pacific Science Center

America has a problem. It's an existential problem, a big one that threatens our collective future. Our problem is the failing bond between science and the American people. Luckily for us all, it's a problem that can be solved. The solution? A big party! Well, that's not the solution, but celebrating science is one way to renew our community's bond with society.

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10:50am

Tue June 4, 2013
The Salt

The French Learned To Make Wine From Italians 2,400 Years Ago

Originally published on Tue June 4, 2013 12:38 pm

This French tapestry depicts noblemen and women treading and pressing grapes to make wine circa 1500. By then, the French had already been making wine for at least 2,000 years.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

The French weren't the first to make wine? Mon dieu! But as anyone who has sipped a Bordeaux, Champagne or Burgundy can tell you, the French got pretty good at it once they learned how. And thanks to some molecular archaeology, researchers can now confirm they picked up these skills as early as 425 B.C.

So who taught the French the art of viniculture? Probably the ancient Italians, says the man with perhaps the coolest nickname in science research — the "Indiana Jones of alcohol," Patrick McGovern.

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7:22pm

Mon June 3, 2013
Shots - Health News

Miss. Turns To 'Cord Blood' To Track Down Statutory Rapists

Originally published on Wed June 5, 2013 8:43 am

Gov. Phil Bryant, at the Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Summit in Jackson, Miss., in 2012, supports a controversial effort to identify men who impregnate teen girls.
Rogelio V. Solis AP

Mississippi lawmakers have embarked on a controversial campaign to discourage older men from having sex with teenagers.

Starting in July, doctors and midwives in the state will be required by law to collect samples of umbilical cord blood from babies born to some girls under the age of 16. Officials will analyze the samples and try to identify the fathers through matches in the state's DNA database.

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3:06pm

Mon June 3, 2013
The Salt

Grass: It's What's For Dinner (3.5 Million Years Ago)

Originally published on Mon June 3, 2013 3:49 pm

Some 3.5 million years ago, our ancestors put grass on the menu.
iStockphoto.com

If you could travel back in time about 8 million years, you'd find a creature in an African tree that was the ancestor of all current apes and humans. And that creature in all likelihood would have spent a big part of its day munching leaves and fruit — pretty much what apes eat now.

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1:46pm

Mon June 3, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

What Did Rachel Carson Hear? The Mystery of the 'Fairy Bell Ringer'

Originally published on Mon June 3, 2013 3:08 pm

Bob Schutz AP

This is the season of night noises, chirps, buzzes, little cries. The air is telling you, "Things are going on out here," and if you like you can step out onto the porch and do what the writer Rachel Carson did back in 1956: She played a hunting game. The rules were simple: You stand outdoors, near the house. You go quiet. When you hear something interesting, you either: a) take a flashlight and go hunt for it; or b) you don't go anywhere. You just imagine it.

The best find Rachel Carson ever made, she never found.

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