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Cows are notoriously gassy creatures. Globally, more than a third of methane generated by human activity comes from livestock farming, a good deal of it in the form of bovine belching (yes, belching — not the other end). This is a serious problem, given that methane is 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat.

Enter a Danish research team that is testing out one potential solution in the form of an unassuming herb: oregano.

A few weeks ago, Dr. James Bale saw a series of MRI images in a medical journal of MRI scans of babies infected with Zika in the womb.

They scans showed something Bale had seen only a few times in his 30-year career: a phenomenon called fetal brain disruption sequence.

As the fetus's brain starts to grow, it creates pressure, which pushes on the skull and causes it to grow. But if something stops brain growth — such as a virus — pressure on the skull drops. And the skull can collapse down onto the brain.

NASA announced Tuesday the discovery of an unprecedented number of planets beyond our solar system — astronomers have confirmed the existence of 1,284 new worlds orbiting distant stars.

These planets beyond our solar system — exoplanets — were discovered with the help of NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, which launched in 2009.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect Strava's latest figures for the number of GPS-tracked activities uploaded to its database.

Cyclists often find themselves pedaling between huge trucks and speeding cars or stranded when protected bike lanes abruptly end at busy intersections.

Chris Cassidy moved to San Francisco in 2005. He used to cycle through Market Street, a busy downtown thoroughfare.

Scientists have had a literal breakthrough off the coast of Mexico.

After weeks of drilling from an offshore platform in the Gulf of Mexico, they have reached rocks left over from the day the Earth was hit by a killer asteroid.

Scientists have been able to make and study human embryos in their labs for decades. But they have never been able to keep them alive outside a woman's womb for more than about a week.

That limitation meant scientists were unable to conduct a range of detailed research into early human development.

But now researchers say they have discovered a way to keep human embryos alive in the laboratory about a week longer than ever before, and through a critical period of development.

A trio of newly discovered Earth-sized planets looks ideally suited to search for signs that these alien worlds might be able to support life.

The planets orbit close to an unusually small, reddish star that's about one-eighth the size of our sun and is far cooler, researchers report in the journal Nature.

Just when health officials think the Ebola outbreak is over in West Africa, the virus pops up again seemingly out of the blue. It's happened at least five times so far.

Now scientists are starting to figure out why: The virus can lie dormant in a survivor for more than year and then re-emerge to infect others.

As summer approaches, anxiety about Zika is growing in Gulf Coast states like Florida and Texas. The virus hasn't spread to mosquitoes in the region, and it may not, but experts are preparing nonetheless.

Scientists say they have made an atlas of where words' meanings are located in the brain. The map shows that words are represented in different regions throughout the brain's outer layer.

When orchardist Eliza Greenman walks through a field of apple trees and gazes upon a pocked array of blemished and buckled fruits — scarred from fighting fungus, heat and pests — she feels a little thrill of joy. "I'm absolutely infatuated with the idea of stress in an orchard," says Greenman, who custom grafts and grows pesticide-free hard cider apples in Hamilton, Va. These forlorn, scabbed apples, says Greenman, may actually be sweeter.

When you sleep in unfamiliar surroundings, only half your brain is getting a good night's rest.

"The left side seems to be more awake than the right side," says Yuka Sasaki, an associate professor of cognitive, linguistic and psychological sciences at Brown University.

The National Institutes of Health has suspended work in two facilities that manufacture products given to people who are enrolled in research studies, saying the facilities haven't complied with safety standards designed to protect already-sick people from inappropriate risks.

With the Zika virus spreading through Latin American and into U.S. territory, lots of researchers want to pursue projects to help fight the disease.

But there's one problem: money.

Or rather, getting money to researchers. President Obama has requested $1.9 billion from Congress to fight Zika, but this appeal is being held up by a vote in Congress. In the interim, the White House redirected $510 million from federal money left over from the response to Ebola.

As laptops become smaller and more ubiquitous, and with the advent of tablets, the idea of taking notes by hand just seems old-fashioned to many students today. Typing your notes is faster — which comes in handy when there's a lot of information to take down. But it turns out there are still advantages to doing things the old-fashioned way.

Could swallowing the eggs of a parasitic worm help treat a disease?

It might just work in some cases, according to the work of P'ng Loke and Ken Cadwell, two researchers at New York University who study parasites and the immune system.

On Tuesday, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner announced a plan to send interstellar probes to the Alpha Centauri star system. The audacious project would use a giant laser on Earth to accelerate scores of postage-stamp-size spacecraft to nearly the speed of light. They would cross the void in just 20 years — virtually no time on the scale of interstellar travel.

Ian Burkhart, now 24, was paralyzed in 2010 after diving into a wave in shallow water. The accident left him with some arm movement but no use of his hands.

Some users of LSD say one of the most profound parts of the experience is a deep oneness with the universe. The hallucinogenic drug might be causing this by blurring boundaries in the brain, too.

Physicist Stephen Hawking and billionaire Yuri Milner have a vision of interstellar exploration — taking place over the course of not thousands of years, but decades.

Together with a team of scientists, they suggest that within a generation, humans could send a probe to Alpha Centauri — more than 4.3 light-years away, or 25 trillion miles — on a trip that would take just over two decades. That's 1,000 times faster than the current fastest spacecraft, the scientists say.

They're thinking big — by thinking very small.

Artificial limbs have come a long way since the days of peg legs and hooks for hands. But one thing most of these prosthetics lack is a sense of touch.

Zhenan Bao intends to change that.

Hear it in Rio, Kathmandu or Timbuktu — it doesn't matter. A hearty, belly laugh means the same thing on every continent: joy.

But when we laugh with someone else, our chuckles may divulge more than we realize.

Scientists have found that people around the world can tell whether folks are friends or strangers by listening to them laughing together. And the ability transcends culture and language.

Days after they declared a spacecraft emergency over the Kepler space telescope, NASA engineers say the craft has now recovered and that they're working to figure out what happened.

Kepler, which is currently nearly 75 million miles away from Earth, placed itself into Emergency Mode sometime in the middle of last week. But it wasn't until a scheduled contact on Thursday that mission engineers discovered the problem. That led NASA to declare a wider emergency, giving the mission priority access to communications through its Deep Space Network.

Blisters are the bane of weekend hikers and Olympic marathoners alike. Stanford researchers say they've found a simple, cheap method to help prevent them.

That humble hero is paper surgical tape, which often costs less than a dollar and is sold at most any pharmacy.

Their study, published Monday in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, found that the paper tape reduced the instance of blisters by 40 percent.

David Gang / Washington State University

 

Orange, grapefruit, lemon and lime orchards are being wiped out across Florida from a plague called citrus greening disease. A team of scientists from Washington State University in Pullman is studying the bacterium that causes the condition. They hope to find a cure.

David Gang, a biological chemist at Washington State University, said the bacterium that causes greening disease is transmitted by a psyllid, a winged insect about half the size of a fruit fly, which spreads it from tree to tree.

 

Courtesy of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences

 

Children who are raised in a bilingual home appear to have a head start in building the part of the brain that deals with everything from impulse control to mental flexibility. These findings are in a new study that’s out of the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences.

If you've been following any of the big news stories on food fraud lately, you'll know that it's tough to know what exactly is in our food — and where it's been before it makes it onto our dinner plates.

Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research

 

A new study shows that some one-on-one attention paid to Latinas can boost the likelihood they will be screened for breast cancer.

For the study, low-income Latinas were visited by a Spanish-speaking health care worker called a "promotora" who provided them with information about getting a mammogram. After the visit, the women received a follow-up phone call, reminding them to make an appointment.

 

A lone hunter stealthily stalking its prey; a shrill cry in the night.

Last November, a couple from Washington, D.C., took a weeklong vacation. They visited Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. And got bitten by plenty of mosquitoes.

Two days after they returned home, the woman — who was pregnant — fell ill. She had muscle pain, a fever and a rash.

"At first she didn't think much about it," says OB-GYN Rita Driggers, who saw the woman at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "But then all the news started coming out about Zika, so the woman went and got tested."

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