121 articles from FRIDAY 2.2.2024

Does fluoride in drinking water lower IQ? Question looms large in court battle

A long-simmering scientific battle took on new life this week, as experts clashed in a San Francisco courtroom over whether the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should ban fluoridation of drinking water to protect fetuses and children from the risk of neurodevelopmental problems. The case , being heard in a federal district court, “is precedent...

U.S. panel adds rare brain disease to newborn screening list, after push from families

Give future parents in our shoes a choice, before it’s too late. That’s what several parents of babies born with a fatal genetic brain disorder called Krabbe disease told a federal advisory panel on newborn screening this week. One mother from Virginia, Kelly Danoy, said her 2-year-old daughter Sofia “suffers needlessly because she was born in the wrong state.” Sofia...

Billion-dollar NASA mission will provide unprecedented view of ocean life

It isn’t easy seeing green. The ocean’s mix of plankton, algae, and bacteria absorbs vast amounts of carbon dioxide while producing 50% of Earth’s oxygen. But for decades, Earth-observing satellites could not tease apart the many species making up the green goop. That hampered attempts to study how the floating plants influence climate—and how global warming is affecting this...

Scientists see an ultra-fast movement on surface of HIV virus

Seeing a glycoprotein on the envelope of the HIV virus snap open and shut in mere millionths of a second is giving investigators a new handle on the surface of the virus that could lead to broadly neutralizing antibodies for an AIDS vaccine. Being able to attach an antibody specifically to this little structure that would prevent it from popping open would be key.

Plant groupings in drylands support ecosystem resilience

Many complex systems, from microbial communities to mussel beds to drylands, display striking self-organized clusters. According to theoretical models, these groupings play an important role in how an ecosystem works and its ability to respond to environmental changes. A new article focused on the spatial patterns found in drylands offers important empirical evidence validating the models.

Colin Murray Parkes obituary

Psychiatrist whose insights into bereavement were shaped by events such as the Aberfan disaster, the Rwanda genocide and 9/11The much-quoted phrase “Grief is the price we pay for love” reached a global audience in 2001 when Queen Elizabeth II used it in her message of condolence to those affected by the 9/11 attacks in the US.But it was the psychiatrist Colin Murray Parkes, who has died aged...

A sleeker facial recognition technology tested on Michelangelo's David

Many people are familiar with facial recognition systems that unlock smartphones and game systems or allow access to our bank accounts online. But the current technology can require boxy projectors and lenses. Now, researchers report in Nano Letters a sleeker 3D surface imaging system with flatter, simplified optics. In proof-of-concept demonstrations, the new system recognized the face of...

Asteroid making its closest approach to Earth this week

On 4 February, asteroid 2011 MD will make its closest approach to the Earth. Though it will not be visible with the naked eye, the asteroid will pass 15,000,000 km away from Earth—much closer than those in the asteroid belt and less than 10% of the distance from Earth to its next nearest planet, Mars.