Science & Technology

Science news

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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/oregonstateuniversity/8205503833/">Lynn Ketchum/Oregon State University</a>. <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">CC-BY-SA 2.0</a>. Image cropped.

With the holidays just around the corner, another tradition is in full swing for many Americans: choosing the perfect Christmas tree.

Fossil hunters have hit pay dirt in northeastern China

Dec 23, 2016
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Stephanie Abramowicz, from &ldquo;Birds of Stone&rdquo;

Our picture of bird evolution has changed dramatically over the past three decades, thanks to an avian fossil jackpot in northeastern China. These ancient remains, dating back 120 to 131 million years ago, are part of a diverse assembly of animal and plant fossils collectively known as the Jehol Biota. (The term is a historic reference to a region ruled centuries ago by the Khitan Empire.)

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Courtesy of&nbsp;Julia Sybalsky and Bethany Palumbo

In 2011, the American Museum of Natural History in New York City changed out the light bulbs illuminating the dioramas in the Hall of North American Mammals in an effort to conserve energy. That’s when museum conservators realized that their displays could use a makeover.

“I liken it to when you do renovations or re-do your living room in your own home, and you might replace the blinds or the couch, and then when you do that, you realize you should really take a look at everything else,” says Fran Ritchie, a project conservator at the museum.

The edible dormouse has evolved in such a way as to forestall aging

Dec 21, 2016
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<a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=User:Fombelle&amp;action=edit&amp;redlink=1">Bertille de Fombelle</a>/<a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Glis_glis_Haut-Doubs.jpg">CC BY 2.0 (image cropped)</a>

Telomeres, tiny protective caps at the end of DNA, typically get shorter and shorter with age. But one creature — the edible dormouse — seems to have developed a way to reverse this process and forestall aging.

Do you know what's in your medical records?

Dec 19, 2016

In 1996, Congress enacted HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), which was designed, in part, to give patients the right to access their own medical records. Twenty years later, much has improved, but patients still have trouble prying their personal information out of hospitals and health care systems. 

What are the best snow boots to wear?

Dec 17, 2016

Thousands of injuries and even some deaths occur when people slip and fall on winter ice. A new study has looked at the effectiveness of winter boot soles and found that very few of them measure up.

“Unfortunately, we tested over 100 boots, and only nine of them passed,” says Barry Westhead, director of research engineering at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that some new technologies are already on the market, and two of them perform particularly well, Westhead says.

A Somber Room of Climate Scientists

Dec 17, 2016

Going All In on Clean Energy

Dec 17, 2016
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Donald Pettit/NASA

Astronauts have countless official tasks to accomplish once they’re up and out of Earth’s atmosphere. But space walkers need hobbies, too.

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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/christine-wagner/15951560748/">Christine Wagner</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>. Image cropped.

New York City is home to one of the world’s most famous skylines. But for every landmark structure, there are dozens that never made it on the map. A floating airport on the Hudson River? Not quite. A gigantic dome protecting midtown Manhattan from bad weather? Never mind. 

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Armitt Museum&nbsp;

Think of Beatrix Potter, and what comes to mind? Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and Peter Rabbit. Now, what about Crimson Waxcap?

That's the name of a mushroom. It might seem out of place, but fungi and other wonders of the natural world apparently held as much of a place in Potter's heart as the children's stories for which she's known today.

The notion initially surprised Linda Lear, one of the authors of the new book, "The Art of Beatrix Potter."

What's the role of social media in the news media?

Dec 10, 2016
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Mariana Bazo/Reuters&nbsp;

In the days immediately following the US presidential election, a quick Google News search of the phrase “final election results” netted a slimy top result. It was an article claiming, incorrectly, that Donald Trump had won the popular vote.

The Cost of Co-Pay Drug Coupons

Dec 10, 2016

Time travel, microbes, black holes, and polar bears. There’s something for everyone on this year’s list of best science books.

Maria Popova, founder of Brain Pickings, and Scientific American editor Lee Billings have combed the shelves and come up with this list of 18 books you might want to ask Santa to stick under your tree.

Maria Popova’s picks:

Black Hole Blues, by Janna Levin

JC Raulston Arboretum Digital Archive

Horticulturist J.C. Raulston died in 1996, but his legacy lives on at the North Carolina State University arboretum that bears his name, the nine plants named in his honor, and all over the backyards and nurseries of North Carolina. 

It’s 2016. Why is the common cold still so hard to avoid?

Dec 5, 2016
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Mizianitka/CC0

Winter is setting in, marking the unofficial height of the dreaded “cold season” in offices and schools across the country.

The common cold is a familiar foe: Maybe you’re fighting one off right now, or stocking up on vitamin C, tissues and canned chicken soup for the long battle ahead. But despite the regularity of colds in daily life, there’s a lot you may not know about them. Where do they come from? Is there actually a link between colds and cold weather? And why don’t we have the ultimate weapon — a vaccine — to beat them once and for all?

A new report in Nature gives hopeful news about how we could recover from paralyzing spinal cord injuries in the future.

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