Why large dogs live fast—and die young
For most mammals, size matters: Large ones, such as elephants and whales, live far longer than small ones like rodents. But among dogs, that rule is reversed. Tiny Chihuahuas, for example, can live up to 15 years—8 years longer than their much larger cousins, Great Danes. Now, a team of undergraduates may be closer to figuring out why. The most likely culprit? More harmful oxygen free radicals in fast-growing, fuel-burning puppies.
Pioneering study images activity in fetal brains
Babies born prematurely are prone to problems later in life—they’re more likely to develop autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and more likely to struggle in school. A new study that’s among the first to investigate brain activity in human fetuses suggests that the underlying neurological issues may begin in the womb. The findings provide the first direct evidence of altered brain function in fetuses that go on to be born prematurely, and they might ultimately point to ways to remediate or even prevent such early injuries.
Fossil leaves suggest global warming will be harder to fight than scientists thought
Scientists have developed a new method for wringing CO2 estimates from fossilized leaves—one that can go deeper into the past, and with more certainty.
Analysis of more than 50,000 genomes hints at new disease-causing genes
In the largest study of its kind, a research team has meshed extensive genome data on more than 50,000 people with their electronic health records and identified potential new disease-causing genes. The data further suggest that about one in 250 people may harbor a gene variant that puts them at risk for heart attacks and strokes, yet aren’t receiving adequate treatment.
Glowworms harness a surprising ingredient to keep their threads sticky
This isn’t a photo of the Milky Way; it’s a deep, dark cave in New Zealand. And those blue things aren’t stars; they’re maggots. A chemical reaction in their Malpighian tubules—structures analogous to kidneys—makes their posteriors glow, much to the delight of more than 200,000 tourists who visit them every year.
Alien life could thrive in the clouds of failed stars
Floating out by themselves in the Milky Way galaxy are perhaps a billion cold brown dwarfs, objects many times as massive as Jupiter but not big enough to ignite as a star. According to a new study, layers of their upper atmospheres sit at temperatures and pressures resembling those on Earth, and could host microbes that surf on thermal updrafts.
Are the best students really that advanced?
Students taking the most challenging math and science courses in their senior year were found to have performed progressively worse as they moved from elementary to middle to high school.
‘Atlas of the Underworld’ reveals oceans and mountains lost to Earth’s history
Next month, at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, California, a team of Dutch scientists will announce a catalog of 100 subducted plates, with information about their age, size, and related surface rock records, based on their own tomographic model and cross-checks with other published studies.
Radio burst hits Earth from a billion light-years away
Every day, space is filled with thousands of mysterious bursts of radio energy, enormous flashes that typically pack as much energy into a few milliseconds as the sun emits in all wavelengths in half a day. Nobody knows what causes these fast radio bursts (FRBs), but theories include such dramatic possibilities as colliding neutron stars or neutron stars being eaten by black holes. Now, a team of astronomers has witnessed the brightest such flash to date.
Australian continent shifts with the seasons
Every summer, the “land down under” does a little dance: It slowly shifts 1 millimeter to the northwest and dips down 2 to 3 millimeters on its northwestern side. When winter comes, it shuffles back by the same amount, while its southeastern coast does the downward dipping.