Geometry Reveals How the World Is Made of Cubes

At first, “everything seemed to work,” Jerolmack said. Domokos’ mathematics had predicted that rock shards should average out to cubes. An increasing number of actual rock shards seemed happy to comply. But Jerolmack soon realized that proving the theory would require confronting rule-breaking cases, too. After all, the same geometry offered a vocabulary to describe […]

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Endangered Vancouver Island Marmots Are Making a Comeback

This story originally appeared on Canada’s National Observer and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration. Vancouver Island marmots may just be the antidote required for the dystopian times we are living in. If you must be trapped inside during this current winter of discontent, alone at a desk, scrolling through hours of video—best it […]

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Does the AstraZeneca Vaccine Also Stop Covid Transmission?

Again: unpublished data, no details, no peer review, science-by-press-release. That ain’t good. But big, as political writers sometimes say, if true. People infected with the virus but without symptoms—asymptomatic spreaders—seem to be a reason the disease is pandemic-y. Nobody’s sure how big a reason, though. Lots of other respiratory viruses overlap symptoms and transmission—sometimes the […]

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A New Study About Color Tries to Decode ‘The Brain’s Pantone’

At first, Conway was pretty skeptical that he would get any results. “The word on the street is that MEG has very crappy spatial resolution,” he says. Essentially, the machine is good at detecting when there’s brain activity, but not so great at showing you where in the brain that activity is. But as it […]

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This Squishy 3D-Printed Human Heart Feels Like the Real Thing

In the intro to the HBO sci-fi series Westworld, a 3D printer churns out humanoid robots, delicately assembling the incredible complexities of the human form so that those robots can go on to—spoiler alert—do naughty things. It takes a lot of biomechanical coordination, after all, to murder a whole lot of flesh-and-blood people. Speaking of: […]

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The Last, ‘Ultra-Cold’ Mile for Covid-19 Vaccines

It is likely that, to get vaccines into these areas, the ultra-cold shipments will have to be taken out of their special packaging, broken up into smaller lots, and transported various distances—maybe a few miles, maybe a few hundred. That will start a countdown clock ticking on the vaccine’s viability. The recipients might be small […]

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Physicists Pin Down the Nuclear Reaction After the Big Bang

In a secluded laboratory buried under a mountain in Italy, physicists have re-created a nuclear reaction that happened between two and three minutes after the Big Bang. Original story reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine, an editorially independent publication of the Simons Foundation whose mission is to enhance public understanding of science by covering research […]

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Climate Change Is Intensifying the Tsunami Threat in Alaska

This story originally appeared in High Country News and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration. Tucked against glacier-capped mountains, the Begich Towers loom over Whittier, Alaska. More than 80 percent of the small town’s residents live in the Cold War-era barracks in this former secret military port, whose harbor teems every summer with traffic: […]

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Pfizer Seeks Approval, the CDC Urges Restraint, and More News

Pfizer seeks FDA approval for its vaccine, the CDC urges Americans to avoid Thanksgiving travel, and the federal pandemic response draws renewed concern. Here’s what you should know: Want to receive this weekly roundup and other coronavirus news? Sign up here! Headlines Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine is first to seek emergency use authorization in the […]

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Iowa’s Covid Wave and the Limits of Personal Responsibility

“That’s the major problem here,” says Perencenevich. “Clearly, so much of containing this virus comes down to personal responsibility, but there have to be guardrails.” Without hard and fast rules, the people who run individual businesses and school districts have been on their own to decide whether or not to require masks and social distancing, […]

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An Enormous Iceberg Is Headed for South Georgia Island—Again

For the penguins, even if the iceberg doesn’t entirely block access to the sea, it may force them to walk across the ice to bring back food for their young, says Michael Polito, associate professor of oceanography and coastal sciences at Louisiana State University. While penguins can walk short distances, a long hike drains their […]

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How a Medication for OCD Ended Up in a Covid-19 Trial

Generally, up to a fifth of people with mild Covid-19 symptoms progress to severe disease. In the UWash trial, 6 of 72 patients (8.3 percent) in the placebo group deteriorated—as measured by indicators like shortness of breath, oxygen saturation dropping below 92 percent, or people being hospitalized to treat these conditions. However, as the researchers […]

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Can You Get Covid-19 on an Airplane? Yeah, Probably

In March 1977, on a Boeing 737 making a run from Anchorage to Kodiak, a bunch of people got the flu. That’s not supposed to happen on airplanes. Influenza is a respiratory virus, most likely transmitted at least in part via airborne particles, and airplanes have recirculation, air filtration, and fresh-air injection systems burly enough […]

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How to Reduce (but Not Eliminate) Covid Risk at Gatherings

Strictly quarantining is a better approach than simply getting a Covid-19 test, as questions remain about the effectiveness of some often-used tests, experts say. Benjamin says the PCR test, which can tell you if you’re currently sick, is the most reliable, more so than the newer rapid-response tests, which can give false negatives or positives. […]

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These Rare Seeds Escaped Syria’s War—to Help Feed the World

But, overall, it worked: Over the past five years, they’ve successfully grown more than 100,000 of their original accessions, shipping 81,000 newly grown samples back to Svalbard to bolster their deposit. They’ve also been shipping the new seeds around the world to those who request them—that could include scientists who want to research a more […]

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