Scientists have discovered that a mouse found in Africa can lose large patches of skin and then grow it back without scarring, perhaps as a way of escaping the clutches of a predator.
The finding challenges the conventional view that mammals have an extremely limited ability to replace injured body parts. There are lizards that can regrow lost tails, salamanders that can replace amputated legs, and fish that can generate new fins, but humans and other mammals generally patch up wounds with scar tissue.
Where does the Universe end? Or, to put it differently, does the Universe have an edge? When cosmologists say that the Universe is expanding, people tend to think of an exploding bomb. They see galaxies as shrapnel, flying off in all directions. Even if intuitive, this image is dead wrong.
The cosmic expansion is an expansion of space itself. Since Einstein's theory of general relativity, space has been endowed with a plasticity that allows it to expand, shrink or fold like a rubber balloon in response to the presence of matter (and energy).
Originally published on Thu September 27, 2012 3:13 pm
In the fairy-tale world, a shiny red apple can lead to a poisonous end. But some see two genetically engineered green apple varieties, poised to become the first to gain U.S. Department of Agriculture approval,as similar harbingers of doom.
When you go into a restaurant, you probably give some thought to whether you're ordering a small, regular or large sandwich.
That makes sense.With widening waistlines across the land, many of us want to make a health-conscious choice. But are we really getting a small portion when we order a small sandwich?
Well, that depends.
University of Michigan marketing professor Aradhna Krishna has studied how labels impact how much we eat. In one experiment, she gave people cookies that were labeled either medium or large, and then measured how much they ate.
Tell people you're doing a story about the life spans of Korean eunuchs, the typical reaction is a giggle or a cringe.
But if you can overcome your visceral response to the topic, a study scientists in Korea did is quite interesting, both for what they found, and the way they found it.
Several scientists have shown that there is a link between longevity and reproduction: the greater the fertility, the shorter the life span. This has been fairly well established in nonhuman animal species, but proving it's the case for humans has been tricky.
Originally published on Tue September 25, 2012 4:31 pm
Heaven and Hell. God and the Devil. For many folks these polar opposites are what religion is all about. And for many folks in science who consider themselves atheists, this is what makes religion so impossible to bear. How can the nature of the world be seen in such simplistic terms? How can such beliefs co-exist with the technologies on which we've built our everyday lives?
Arctic sea ice is in sharp decline this year: Last week, scientists announced that it hit the lowest point ever measured, shattering the previous record.
But it turns out that's not the most dramatic change in the Arctic. A study by Canadian researchers finds that springtime snow is melting away even faster than Arctic ice. That also has profound implications for the Earth's climate.
Originally published on Thu September 27, 2012 1:06 pm
New York City's ban on big sodas raises big issues.
Consider: modern political thought starts with the recognition that, as philosopher John Rawls put it, there are different, competing and incompatible conceptions of the good. We live in a pluralistic word.
Religious wars, political upheavals, the discovery and settlement of the New World — all this established the fact that there are wildly different conceptions of how to live, of what makes for a good life.