Progress: A Linear Development?

Rolf-Dieter Heuer With the discovery of the Higgs boson, the last gap in the "Standard Model" of physics has been filled. Martin Eiermann talked with the head of the CERN laboraties, Rolf-Dieter Heuer, about the future of physics, the value of diversity, and the difference between knowledge and belief. … Read More>>

Anti-Aging Uncertainties Persist

New research raises further questions about the role of sirtuins in aging. By Emily Singer Two papers published today in Nature present contradictory evidence about a promising approach to understanding and manipulating the biology of aging: boosting expression of a gene called Sir2. One of the papers calls into question whether boosting Sir2 expression truly … Continue reading

Why Do Humans Reason?

Arguments for an Argumentative Theory Hugo Mercier University of Pennsylvania Dan Sperber affiliation not provided to SSRN Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp. 57-74, 2011 Abstract: Reasoning is generally seen as a means to improve knowledge and make better decisions. However, much evidence shows that reasoning often leads to epistemic distortions and … Continue reading

Female Dogs Aren’t Easily Fooled

by Helen Fields The battle of the sexes has just heated up—in dogs. A new study finds that when a ball appears to magically change size in front of their eyes, female dogs notice but males don’t. The researchers aren’t sure what’s behind the disparity, but experts say the finding supports the idea that—in some … Continue reading

The eyespots have it after all

New experiments may reconcile conflicting studies regarding the peacock’s allure By Susan Milius The number of eyespots on a peacock’s train may separate the winners from the losers in wooing females, but perhaps only the winners from the really pathetic losers.R. Dakin The tale of how the peacock got his eyespots has taken a new … Continue reading

Too Hard for Science?

Philip Zimbardo–creating millions of heroes By Charles Q. Choi  If outside influences can make people act badly, can they also be used to help people do good? In "Too Hard for Science?" I interview scientists about ideas they would love to explore that they don’t think could be investigated. For instance, they might involve machines … Continue reading

Rising seas made China’s ancient mariners

Environmental changes cultivated seafaring, not rice farming SHOOT RIDERS. Coastal residents of southeastern China navigate waterways today on bamboo rafts such as this one. Island dwellers in the region took sea voyages 5,000 years ago, perhaps using similar rafts equipped with sails, researchers say.B. Rolett A rising tide lifts all boats, but in a surprising … Continue reading

And now a word about an even more important revolution…

By David J. Rothkopf There are revolutions and there are revolutions. Those sweeping across the Arab world hold out the possibility of breakthroughs that may improve the lives of millions and remake the geopolitics of the region. But there are other revolutions more difficult to capture on camera but far more sweeping in their implications, … Continue reading

Size matters

small groups fight harder, but lose anyway By Kate Shaw While ants can be irritating to humans, they don’t generally pose a huge danger to us. However, groups of ants are often extremely aggressive to one another, frequently fighting to the death. A new paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B studies the how … Continue reading

The power of lonely

What we do better without other people around (Tim Gabor for The Boston Globe) By Leon Neyfakh You hear it all the time: We humans are social animals. We need to spend time together to be happy and functional, and we extract a vast array of benefits from maintaining intimate relationships and associating with groups. … Continue reading

What scientists really think about animal research

By Kate Shaw Animal research has always been a polarizing topic; while it greatly advances science and medicine, it also causes the deaths of thousands of animals each year. PETA, the Animal Liberation Front, and other animal rights groups are outspoken about their side of the issue, but we hear less from the scientists who … Continue reading

US Will No Longer Dominate Science and Research

A shift in the global research landscape will reposition the United States as a major partner, but not the dominant leader, in science and technology research in the coming decade, according to a Penn State researcher. However, the U.S. could benefit from this research shift if it adopts a policy of knowledge sharing with the … Continue reading

The Great Invention Race

Whatever we do, China and India will train more scientists and engineers. But America’s still got the best environment for ideas to grow. BY ADAM SEGAL U.S. President Barack Obama’s plan to "win the future" by out-innovating the rest of the world was a ringing climax of his State of the Union address this week. … Continue reading

Japanese Virologist Loses Job, Gets Publishing Ban for Image Manipulation

by Dennis Normile TOKYO—A virologist who has retracted several papers in recent weeks because of problems with images has been dismissed from his position at the University of the Ryukyus in Nishihara, Okinawa, according to university sources. The researcher, Naoki Mori, told ScienceInsider that "duplications and inaccuracies were confined to some of the internal control … Continue reading

Holocaust Hegemony

. . . and its moral pitfalls. By SAM SCHULMAN  Last month, the Canadian journalist Richard Klagsbrun drew attention to a newly submitted Master’s thesis at the University of Toronto’s ed school: “The Victimhood of the Powerful: White Jews, Zionism and the Racism of Hegemonic Holocaust Education.” Proud author Jennifer Peto told a reporter for … Continue reading

Cultural Evolution Could Be Studied in Google Books Database

By Brandon Keim Google’s massive trove of scanned books could be useful for researchers studying the evolution of culture. In a paper published Dec. 16 in Science, researchers turned part of that vast textual corpus into a 500-billion-word database in which the frequency of words can be measured over time and space. Their initial subjects … Continue reading

NASA Finds New Arsenic-Based Life Form in California

Rachel Ehrenberg, Science News When cooking up the stuff of life, you can’t just substitute margarine for butter. Or so scientists thought. But now researchers have coaxed a microbe to build itself with arsenic in the place of phosphorus, an unprecedented substitution of one of the six essential ingredients of life. The bacterium appears to … Continue reading

Bacteria first species observed to use arsenic-laced DNA backbone

Yun Xie Yun Xie All living organisms on this planet use six elements for almost all of the chemical structures of DNA, RNA, proteins, and lipids. There is a smattering of other elements, mostly metals, that are essential for biological functions (e.g., the iron in hemoglobin). However, we wouldn’t expect to find anything outside of … Continue reading

Perspective: Residency 101 for Physician-Scientists

Robin G. Lorenz  You need to be a well-informed consumer and you need to start early. Above all, you need to find a program that will facilitate the development of your research-oriented career and provide the appropriate mentoring to assure your success as a physician scientist. For a young physician-scientist seeking a career in academic … Continue reading

China Hopes to Boost Basic Research as Overall R&D Spending Soars

China’s basic and applied research spending in billions of U.S. dollars. Credit: Source: National Bureau of Statistics of China Hao Xin China’s science spending is rising fast and on track to meet a 2010 target to spend 2% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on research and development, according to a report released this week. … Continue reading

For Whom the Nobel Tolls: An Evening Out with James Watson

An off-Broadway play and a trove of lost letters have brought the discovery of DNA’s double helix back into the headlines. The Nobel laureate weighs in Anna Kuchment  We had gathered Tuesday evening to discuss two recent events that had brought the story of Watson’s co-discovery of the structure of DNA in 1953 back into … Continue reading

Why do some nanoparticles get trapped in our lungs?

By Yun Xie Our lungs have large surface areas that provide a pathway for foreign substances to enter our bloodstream. This can be useful—many research groups are looking at ways to take advantage of those properties by sending nanoparticles through the lung for drug delivery and disease diagnostics. On the negative side of things, there … Continue reading

What Makes a Good Parent?

A scientific analysis ranks the 10 most effective child-rearing practices. Surprisingly, some don’t even involve the kids By Robert Epstein  Decades of research reveal 10 essential parenting skill sets. A new study of 2,000 parents determined which skills are most important to bringing up healthy, happy and successful kids. Giving love and affection tops the … Continue reading

How science funding is putting scientific data at risk

By John Timmer A Policy Forum in today’s issue of Science takes a look at what’s become a significant problem in the sciences: enabling and maintaing unfettered access to large collections of scientific data. Although the report focuses on the biosciences, many of the problems it describes apply to other areas of research as well. … Continue reading

Chemists Inch Closer to Stable Superheavy Atoms

By Marissa Cevallos, Science News Chemists searching for the island of stability now have a better map. Thanks to the discovery of six new variations of the superheavy elements on the bottom rung of the periodic table, scientists are closer to creating elements that are expected to last long enough for in-depth study. Researchers at … Continue reading

Finding the genes that make a human stem cell

By Diana Gitig  A group in Singapore has recently performed a genome-wide RNA interference screen to identify the genes that determine hESC identity. RNA interference (RNAi) is a method by which scientists can selectively turn off one gene at a time and look at the consequences of eliminating it. They screened 21,121 human genes and … Continue reading

Oct. 19, 1943: A Wonderful Discovery, and a Helluva Row

By Tony Long 1943: A biochemistry grad student discovers streptomycin, a synthetic antibiotic used to treat tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. Sole credit for the discovery initially went to Selman Waksman — who would receive the Nobel Prize in 1952 — who ran the laboratory at Rutgers University where the research was performed. But it … Continue reading

Changes caused by smoking block tumour-fighting genes

by Nic Fleming  The first direct evidence has been found linking smoking to epigenetic changes in genes that help fight cancer. Reversing these changes may one day provide a new route to treating cancer. Women with cervical cancer are known to have higher levels of epigenetic modifications – methyl groups attached to particular sites on … Continue reading

Daily choices can affect long-term happiness

by Jessica Hamzelou  Choose wisely when considering a partner, whether to attend church and how you look after your body. These decisions could have a significant effect on your overall life satisfaction. That’s according to a study that challenges the theory that life happiness is largely predetermined by your genes. The widely accepted "set-point" theory … Continue reading

Berlin Researchers Crack the Ptolemy Code

Mapping Ancient Germania By Matthias Schulz  A 2nd century map of Germania by the scholar Ptolemy has always stumped scholars, who were unable to relate the places depicted to known settlements. Now a team of researchers have cracked the code, revealing that half of Germany’s cities are 1,000 years older than previously thought. The founding … Continue reading

Sabotage: postdoc fiddles with graduate student’s cells

By Chris Lee I am shocked. No, wait, I am appalled. Hmm, maybe I am shocked and appalled? Nope, neither actually. Nature is running a story about a postdoc sabotaging a graduate student’s work and everyone in the story is, well, shocked and appalled—including the postdoc, apparently. One Vipul Bhrigu was caught by a hidden … Continue reading

Booming China Lures Key Professors Home From US

By Richard C. Paddock San Francisco Correspondent AOL News SAN FRANCISCO (Sept. 23) — When Weiping Li came from China in 1982 to study engineering at Stanford University, he didn’t plan to stay long. But after earning his Ph.D., he found that the best opportunities were in the United States, and he was pleased to … Continue reading

Even freeloading species can help hosts live longer

By Casey Johnston Freeloaders in nature may be more beneficial to their hosts than scientists thought, according to a study published in PNAS on Monday. When a group of researchers studied the relationships between acacia trees and four types of ants that ranged from mutually beneficial to parasitic, they found that more types of ant … Continue reading

Lasker Awards go to biologists for work on obesity, blindness

By John Timmer NIH A mouse carrying an obesity mutation really tips the scales. This morning, the Lasker Foundation announced its awards for biomedical research, prizes considered to be some of the most significant in the field. This year’s prizes go to researchers who made significant strides in understanding the biology of obesity, and another … Continue reading

‘Opportunity of a lifetime’ at Rockefeller

Incoming president Marc Tessier-Lavigne relishes the chance to apply industry experience in academia. By Ewen Callaway Tessier-Lavigne, leaving his post as head of research at Genentech, is keen to foster cross-sector collaboration.Courtesy of Genentech Biomedical powerhouse Rockefeller University in New York City announced on 8 September that its next president is to be Marc Tessier-Lavigne, … Continue reading

Macabre details of suicide hangings revealed

by Cian O’Luanaigh  WHAT happens when someone hangs themself, and how quickly do they die? The results of this grisly area of research could be significant in court cases where prison officers are accused of negligence or foul play. Judicial hangings are designed to snap the condemned person’s neck, severing the spinal cord and causing … Continue reading

Document Sheds Light on Investigation at Harvard

By Tom Bartlett. Ever since word got out that a prominent Harvard University researcher was on leave after an investigation into academic wrongdoing, a key question has remained unanswered: What, exactly, did he do? The researcher himself, Marc D. Hauser, isn’t talking. The usually quotable Mr. Hauser, a psychology professor and director of Harvard’s Cognitive … Continue reading

2 of a Kind: Studies Reveal New Insights into the Psychology of Gambling

Two new gambling studies redefine the "poker face" and peer inside the betting brain, helping researchers understand risk-taking behavior and decision-making By Ferris Jabr Dig through enough recent psychology research and you might walk away thinking that some scientists seem to have a gambling addiction. You would be half right: researchers turn to gambling again … Continue reading

Changing Minds: Has Selective Breeding Restructured Some Dog Brains?

A new study suggests dog breeding by humans has altered brain structure and position in short-skulled canines, possibly diminishing their olfactory abilities By Ferris Jabr Compare the petite Chihuahua with the daunting Great Dane, or the lithe greyhound to the poofy Pomeranian. Many scientists agree that the domestic dog displays more morphological variation than any … Continue reading

Male water striders attract predators to intimidate females into copulation

Chang S. Han & Piotr G. Jablonski Abstract Despite recent advances in our understanding of sexual conflict and antagonistic coevolution between sexes, the role of interspecific interactions, such as predation, in these evolutionary processes remains unclear. In this paper, we present a new male mating strategy whereby a male water strider Gerris gracilicornis intimidates a … Continue reading

Mice regain movement after spinal cord injury

By Katherine Harmon Researchers have been searching for decades for a way to mend damage to the spinal cord, an injury that can lead to life-long paralysis. Even the smallest of breaks in these crucial central nerve fibers can result in the loss of leg, arm and other bodily functions. And attempts to prompt healing, … Continue reading

Psychology Studies Biased Toward Western Undergrads

A recent and exhaustive meta-analysis of scientific data shows that top psychology studies tend to make conclusions about human nature based on samples taken solely from Western undergraduate students. Christie Nicholson reports Anyone familiar with psychology has probably heard a statement like this: A significant percentage of male & female undergraduates displayed X when prompted … Continue reading

Confirmation bias in science: how to avoid it

By Chris Lee. One of the most common arguments against a scientific finding is confirmation bias: the scientist or scientists only look for data that confirms a desired conclusion. Confirmation bias is remarkably common—it is used by psychics, mediums, mentalists, and homeopaths, just to name a few. As you may guess from such a list, … Continue reading

How to read research papers

By Daniel W. Drezner. Ezra Klein made an interesting observation a few days ago about how opinion journalists read papers by experts: [T]his is one of the difficulties with analysis. Fairly few political commentators know enough to decide which research papers are methodologically convincing and which aren’t. So we often end up touting the papers … Continue reading

The Real Concern When Couples Fight

New research reveals that nearly all fights between romantic partners can be distilled into two fundamental complaints. Christie Nicholson reports. Fights between couples are personal. So it makes sense that the passionate ones are rarely about the actual content but rather are typically about something else entirely. But what is the “something else?” Well for … Continue reading

Strong medicine for French research

The medical-research adviser to France’s president aims to shift power and money to universities. By Declan Butler. What is your main role as adviser? I (Arnold Munnich) mostly focus on reforms of the funding and organization of French biomedical research. France historically had weak universities, and to remedy this the government created large national research … Continue reading