Is the snake that just bit you deadly? Venom ‘pregnancy test’ could tell
20,980 articles from ScienceNOW
‘A tough experience.’ Why would a scientist serve as an expert witness?
Cecilie Knudsen placed the urine on one end of the strip, then sat anxiously for 15 minutes to see whether one or two lines appeared. She wasn’t testing for pregnancy. Instead, Knudsen, a biotechnologist and co-founder of VenomAid Diagnostics, was waiting to see whether the test she and her colleagues developed would accurately detect the presence of a particular snake venom in a sample...
News at a glance: Moon landing, scientific bounty hunters, and postdocs facing hunger
Sharing their expertise in court carries risks and rewards, researchers say
Surprise RNAs solve mystery of how butterfly wings get their colorful patterns
Early end for private Moon lander
The first private spacecraft to land on the Moon was shut down this week because of dwindling power, ahead of schedule. On 22 February, Intuitive Machines’s Odysseus lander, built with $118 million from NASA, became the first U.S. spacecraft (pictured during descent) since 1972 to touch...
A mutant butterfly for sale on eBay has helped upend naturalists’ picture of how butterfly wings acquire their intricate variety of red, yellow, white, and black stripes. It and recent research into other butterflies shows how visible traits in many animals may be controlled by the same underexplored genetic regulatory mechanism, based not on proteins, but on RNA.
WEDNESDAY 28. FEBRUARY 2024
French scientists alarmed by ‘disastrous’ cut to research budget
NSF board approves funding for just one of two proposed giant telescopes
Scientists in France are reeling after the government announced it will cut €904 million from this year’s budget for research and higher education.
The cut, announced last week, is part of a broader €10 billion savings package that the government says is necessary to limit the nation’s public deficit in the face of dwindling economic growth since the budget law was...
Dehydrate the stratosphere to curb global warming? Scientists float risky new strategy
U.S. astronomers will have to make do with one giant ground-based telescope rather than the desired two, the National Science Board (NSB) announced yesterday.
Meeting last week, the panel of scientists that oversees the National Science Foundation (NSF) capped the budget of the U.S. Extremely Large Telescope Program (US-ELTP) at $1.6 billion, enough for a substantial share in one...
Fallout from Israel-Hamas war causing ‘significant harm’ to researchers in Israel, survey finds
Given the alarm about rising levels of carbon dioxide and methane, it’s easy to forget that plain old water vapor is a major greenhouse gas, too. It can linger for years in the stratosphere, for example, absorbing heat from the surface and re-emitting it back down. According to one study, a possible jump in stratospheric water during the 1990s
may have boosted
International panel calls for tighter oversight of risky pathogen studies
Academic researchers in Israel say they are being “affected dramatically” by negative international reactions to Israel’s military actions against Hamas in Gaza, a recent survey finds. And many fear the professional fallout from the war will become much worse in the future.
Since the war began with Hamas’s 7 October 2023 terrorist attack on Israel, it has claimed the...
Why are all proteins ‘left-handed’? New theory could solve origin of life mystery
Research on dangerous human pathogens is essential to protect people from epidemics and pandemics, but safety rules for such work need to be tighter and more consistent around the world, according to a
released today by a broad international task force launched in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. “All countries must look carefully at pathogen security, and we...
There’s a bias at the heart of life, and its origin is an enduring mystery. Nearly all the amino acid building blocks of proteins today exist in mirror-image forms, like right- and left-handed gloves. But life only uses left-handed ones, even though both forms should have been equally abundant during the planet’s early days and can readily link up in the lab. Something must have...
TUESDAY 27. FEBRUARY 2024
The world’s stockpile of cholera vaccine is empty—but relief is on the way
Smithsonian task force pushes for speedy repatriation of 30,000 human remains
The world has run out of cholera vaccines—just when the deadly disease is on a rampage not seen in many years. Fifteen countries are currently reporting active outbreaks, with more than 40,900 cases and 775 deaths reported in January alone. But all available doses of oral cholera vaccines in the global stockpile have been allocated until mid-March, Philippe Barboza, cholera team lead at...
Since the 19th century, scientists at the Smithsonian Institution have obtained, studied, and stored more than 30,000 human remains, one of the largest such collections in the United States. In the past, many remains were studied in order to justify scientific racism. Now, the institution should rapidly offer to return most of these remains to lineal descendants or descendant communities,...
MONDAY 26. FEBRUARY 2024
‘Kangaroo Time’ hops into top spot of Science’s latest ‘Dance Your Ph.D.’ contest
Watch a marlin flash bright stripes before a deadly strike
In a broad grassland beneath an Australian sunset, dancers in everything from fishnets to field attire let loose an unchoreographed mishmash of steps, leaps, twirls, and twerks. There’s no unified style to the movement, but the resulting video—this year’s winner of
’s annual “Dance Your Ph.D.” contest—carries meaning nonetheless in its joyful madness....
With their spearlike noses, high-speeds, and group attacks, striped marlin (
) are fearsome predators of sardines and other small fish. But how do they avoid impaling one another during these mêlées?
New drone footage may provide the answer. As seen above, right before a marlin attacks a school of sardines, it changes color,
dialing up the...
SATURDAY 24. FEBRUARY 2024
Huge genome study confronted by concerns over race analysis
An uproar broke out on social media this week after
published a paper about a massive U.S. health research effort to capture the genetic diversity of people across the country. Critics said a key figure, which depicts patterns of relatedness among nearly 250,000 study volunteers whose genomes were sequenced, could mislead some readers into thinking the data support...
FRIDAY 23. FEBRUARY 2024
Alabama IVF ruling may halt uterine transplant program
Ancient glue, crochet microbes, and more stories you might have missed this week
The Supreme Court of Alabama’s ruling last week declaring frozen embryos at fertility clinics to be people has upended patient care there. The state’s two leading private in vitro fertilization providers as well as the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) paused all IVF procedures earlier this week while officials sort through the legal risks of continuing to create and store...
On war’s second anniversary, Ukraine’s scientific community mourns lost colleagues
How did horses spread across North America? What can ancient DNA tell us about Down syndrome in people who lived long ago? And why is one microbiologist making bacteria out of yarn? Check out the answers below in some of our favorite selections from
’s daily newsletter,
Poised to be first widely consumed gene-edited animals, virus-resistant pigs trot toward market
Just before daybreak on 2 January, air raid sirens blared in Kyiv—a near-daily occurrence that often passes without incident. Not that day. Explosions resounded across the Ukrainian capital as air defenses attempted to shoot down a rain of incoming missiles, including 10 hypersonic Kinzhals. The detonations woke Natalia Shevtsova, a radioecologist at the National Academy of Sciences of...
Texas company lands first private spacecraft on the Moon
Pigs, cattle, and other livestock with edited genes are still far from most dinner plates, but a U.K. company has taken a big step toward the supermarket by engineering several commercial breeds of pigs to be resistant to a virus that devastates the swine industry. The firm, Genus plc, hopes that by year’s end the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will formally approve the pigs...
National Science Foundation grant reviewers urged to think more about ‘societal benefits’
Nearly 50 years ago, NASA
a set of seismometers and heat probes on the Moon’s surface—the last scientific instruments Apollo astronauts had placed. Now, a private lander built and operated by a Texas company has successfully carried the first NASA-funded scientific instruments to the lunar soil since then.
Yesterday, at 6:23 p.m. EST,...
COVID-19 scientists who faced huge bills after speaking in webinars win in court
Following an 18-month review of how the funding agency judges grant proposals, the governing body of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) plans to recommend renaming one of its two long-standing criteria used to measure the project’s potential to help society.
Since 1997, NSF has asked the outside scientists it recruits to rate both a proposal’s “intellectual...
Tinkering with fungus genes can turn blue cheeses red, green, or white
Courts in Sweden and Spain have rejected demands by a mysterious Polish company that scientists who participated in its COVID-19 webinars pay it tens of thousands of euros.
reported last year, scholars around Europe were
hit with the huge bills
after speaking at online meetings on COVID-19 modeling in 2020 and 2021. After the events, a...
Naturally blue food is hard to find—except on a cheese platter. Roquefort, Gorgonzola, and blue Stilton are prized for their distinctive tastes and characteristic blue veins. Now, researchers have figured out how the
fungi that give these cheeses their flavors also produce that color
. And by disrupting the genes that create the hue, they can make blue cheeses that taste...
THURSDAY 22. FEBRUARY 2024
In massive underwater mountain range, scientists find more than 100 new species
A deadly viral illness is exploding in West Africa. Researchers are scrambling to figure out why
Some 3000 meters underwater off the coast of Chile, striking purple, green, and orange sponges burst from the rocks. Sea urchins with maroon spines gather in colonies, while poppy-colored crustaceans pick their way among them. Transparent, ghostly creatures undulate in the dark. A team of researchers captured these and dozens of other never-before-seen species—more than 100 in...
Lassa fever, a rodent-borne disease long neglected by research, is killing thousands every year