Ancient trees’ gnarled, twisted shapes provide irreplaceable habitats
Science News
by Jake Buehler
9h ago
Earth’s oldest, knotted and scarred pine trees are a boon for forest life.  These old mountain pines (Pinus uncinata) offer food and shelter for lichens and insects not just because they’re old, but also because of what’s allowed them to grow so old in the first place, researchers report February 5 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The findings highlight the broader importance of big, old trees, and suggest threats to their survival from development, fire or climate change could deliver irreparable harm in certain ecosystems. Old growth trees around the world (S ..read more
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50 years ago, computers helped speed up drug discovery
Science News
by Erin Garcia de Jesús
9h ago
Cancer drugs by computer — Science News, February 23, 1974 Chemists often need to sort a large number of compounds according to whether or not they possess a given property.… [Researchers] have been working on a technique of getting computers to teach themselves how to solve such problems. The most recent experiments indicate that the technique [based on pattern recognition] may be useful in finding cancer drugs. Update Modern computers can do more than sift through known compounds. With advanced artificial intelligence, computers are helping scientists design novel molecules and predict how ..read more
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JWST spies hints of a neutron star left behind by supernova 1987A
Science News
by Adam Mann
1d ago
Within the dusty cloud left behind by supernova 1987A, the most famous stellar explosion in modern history, astronomers have found compelling evidence for a long-sought neutron star. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has spied indirect hints of a powerful source of X-rays — likely some type of neutron star — coming from the core of the supernova remnant, researchers report February 22 in Science. The findings are part of a 37-year-old quest to determine what happened in the aftermath of the closest supernova in nearly 400 years and could provide insights into how a neutron star behaves mere de ..read more
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What to know about today’s attempted moon landing and how to watch it
Science News
by Christopher Crockett
1d ago
Today, the United States aims to take one small step back to the surface of the moon. If all goes well, a spindly robotic lander named Odysseus — designed and built by a private U.S. company — will touch down near the moon’s south pole at about 6:24 p.m. Eastern time. The probe, which is carrying six NASA payloads plus a few other odds and ends, would be the first U.S. vehicle to touch lunar soil since Apollo 17 landed in 1972. Live coverage of the landing will be broadcast on NASA TV starting at 5 p.m. The Houston-based company Intuitive Machines is overseeing the mission, which launched from ..read more
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The United States was on course to eliminate syphilis. Now it’s surging
Science News
by Aimee Cunningham
1d ago
Once on the path to eliminating syphilis, the United States has reversed course, with cases of the infectious disease surging. From a low of under 32,000 cases in 2000, the number of people with syphilis has rocketed to more than 207,000 in 2022, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in January. That’s 62 cases per 100,000 people. The crisis is hitting pregnant people and babies especially hard. The maternal rate for syphilis during pregnancy rose from 87 per 100,000 births in 2016 to 280 per 100,000 births in 2022, the CDC reported on February 13. Without treatment, pre ..read more
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Physicist Sekazi Mtingwa considers himself an apostle of science
Science News
by Elise Cutts
2d ago
Ask physicist Sekazi Mtingwa how he ended up where he is today, and he’ll start with his grandmother’s deeply religious home. Growing up there in Atlanta, young Mtingwa somehow got the idea that he was the second coming of Christ. “I believed that for years,” Mtingwa recalls with a laugh. That only changed after a Sunday school lesson as a schoolboy. It was about Jesus sacrificing himself for murderers and thieves. “I looked around the room, and all these bad boys in my class, I couldn’t give my life for any of them — let alone murderers,” he says. That was it for the Jesus plan, Mtingwa ..read more
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Messed-up metabolism during development may lead guts to coil the wrong way
Science News
by Helen Bradshaw
2d ago
Inside the African clawed frog, intestines grow just like humans’: neatly coiled counterclockwise. Experiments now show how that process can go awry. Interfering with tadpoles’ metabolism leads to a chain of cellular disruptions that causes their intestines to grow in the wrong direction, researchers from North Carolina State University in Raleigh report February 19 in Development. Their findings offer new insight into how a similar birth anomaly in humans, known as intestinal malrotation, may occur. “Anything that illuminates how we could protect the embryo and the fetus early in development ..read more
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A new book explores the transformative power of bird-watching
Science News
by Aaron Tremper
3d ago
Birding to Change the World Trish O’Kane Ecco, $29.99 A “spark bird” is the species that inspires someone to start bird-watching. For Trish O’Kane, that bird was the northern cardinal. The backyard regular caught her eye while she was living with a friend in New Orleans, five months after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the region and her house in August 2005. Hearing cardinals’ chipping calls was an initial step toward over 1,960 hours of birding, 33 field notebooks filled with avian antics and a career change. In her memoir, Birding to Change the World, O’Kane charts her pivot from human rights j ..read more
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Social media harms teens’ mental health, mounting evidence shows. What now?
Science News
by Sujata Gupta
4d ago
In January, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook’s parent company Meta, appeared at a congressional hearing to answer questions about how social media potentially harms children. Zuckerberg opened by saying: “The existing body of scientific work has not shown a causal link between using social media and young people having worse mental health.” But many social scientists would disagree with that statement. In recent years, studies have started to show a causal link between teen social media use and reduced well-being or mood disorders, chiefly depression and anxiety. Ironically, one of the most ci ..read more
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Taking a weight-loss drug reduced a craving for opioids
Science News
by Erin Garcia de Jesús
6d ago
DENVER — A weight-loss drug used to treat obesity and diabetes has shown promise to treat another disorder: opioid addiction.   Early results from a small clinical trial, presented February 17 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, suggest that a close relative of the weight-loss drugs Wegovy and Ozempic significantly lessened cravings for opioids in people with opioid use disorder. “For them to have any time when they might be free of that craving seems to be very hopeful,” Patricia “Sue” Grigson, a behavioral neuroscientist at Penn State C ..read more
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