The Arecibo Observatory will remain open, NSF says

The iconic Arecibo Observatory has survived a hurricane and dodged deep budget cuts. On November 16, the National Science Foundation, which funds the bulk of the observatory’s operating costs, announced that they would continue funding the radio telescope at a reduced level. It’s not clear yet who will manage the observatory in the long run, ... Read more

Hormone replacement makes sense for some menopausal women

Internist Gail Povar has many female patients making their way through menopause, some having a tougher time than others. Several women with similar stories stand out in her mind. Each came to Povar’s Silver Spring, Md., office within a year or two of stopping her period, complaining of frequent hot flashes and poor sleep at ... Read more

When it’s playtime, many kids prefer reality over fantasy

Young children travel to fantasy worlds every day, packing just imaginations and a toy or two. Some preschoolers scurry across ocean floors carrying toy versions of cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants. Other kids trek to distant universes with miniature replicas of Star Wars robots R2-D2 and C-3PO. Throngs of youngsters fly on broomsticks and cast magic ... Read more

The mystery of Christiaan Huygens’ flawed telescopes may have been solved

17th century scientist Christiaan Huygens set his sights on faraway Saturn, but he may have been nearsighted. Huygens is known, in part, for discovering Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, and deducing the shape of the planet’s rings. But by some accounts, the Dutch scientist’s telescopes produced fuzzier views than others of the time despite having well-crafted ... Read more

50 years ago, atomic testing created otter refugees

Sea otters restocked in old home When the [Atomic Energy Commission] first cast its eye on the island of Amchitka as a possible site for the testing of underground nuclear explosions, howls of anguish went up; the island is part of the Aleutians National Wildlife Refuge, created to preserve the colonies of nesting birds and ... Read more

Martian soil may have all the nutrients rice needs

THE WOODLANDS, TEXAS — Martian dirt may have all the necessary nutrients for growing rice, one of humankind’s most important foods, planetary scientist Abhilash Ramachandran reported March 13 at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. However, the plant may need a bit of help to survive amid perchlorate, a chemical that can be toxic to ... Read more

Biologists are one step closer to creating snake venom in the lab

SAN DIEGO — Labs growing replicas of snakes’ venom glands may one day replace snake farms. Researchers in the Netherlands have succeeded in growing mimics of venom-producing glands from multiple species of snakes. Stem cell biologist Hans Clevers of the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht, the Netherlands, reported the creation of these organoids on December 10 ... Read more

Satellites make mapping hot spots of ammonia pollution easier

Satellites may be a more accurate way to track smog-producing ammonia. It’s notoriously tricky to pinpoint accurate numbers for ammonia gas emissions from sources such as animal feedlots and fertilizer plants. But new maps, generated from infrared radiation measurements gathered by satellites, reveal global ammonia hot spots in greater detail than before. The new data ... Read more

U.S. fentanyl deaths are rising fastest among African-Americans

Since people in the United States began dying in the fentanyl-related drug overdose epidemic, whites have been hit the hardest. But new data released March 21 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that African-Americans and Hispanics are catching up. Non-Hispanic whites still experience the majority of deaths involving fentanyl, a synthetic opioid. ... Read more

50 years ago, scientists were unlocking the secrets of bacteria-infecting viruses

Unusual virus is valuable tool — Viruses, which cannot reproduce on their own, infect cells and usurp their genetic machinery for use in making new viruses…. But just how viruses use the cell machinery is unknown.… Some answers may come from work with an unusual virus, called M13, that has a particularly compatible relationship with ... Read more