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Our water is full of drugs and we don’t know their effects

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 17:00:00 +0000

Water reuse means we are all consuming a cocktail of other people's leftover medicines, but measuring their impact is almost impossible. It's time we clean up our act

China’s fancy for ‘aquatic cocaine’ could wipe out rare porpoise

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 23:01:16 +0000

Illegal trade in the swim bladder of the totoaba fish fuels fishing practices that may drive the critically endangered vaquita to extinction

New NASA budget could put asteroid-grabbing mission in jeopardy

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 20:49:04 +0000

The proposed mission to lasso an asteroid and haul it closer to Earth is not "commensurate with the cost", says Congress

Arctic ice melt is killing birds and will leave caribou stranded

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 23:01:46 +0000

The trend for more sea ice to melt sooner spells trouble for Arctic ecosystems on an unprecedented scale – and it’s not just polar bears that are in peril

Monsanto cuts deal to use CRISPR to engineer food

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 15:37:55 +0000

A licensing agreement between Monsanto and the Broad Institute will allow the biotech giant to use genome editing to modify plants like corn and tomatoes

Supernova extraordinaire might actually be a black hole’s lunch

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 16:16:08 +0000

What looked like the brightest supernova ever spotted might in fact be the death gasp of a star being swallowed by a black hole

Blind people use brain’s visual cortex to help do maths

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 16:28:56 +0000

People who have been blind since birth use the same parts of the brain as everyone else to do arithmetic, but may get an extra boost from their visual cortex

The Wikipedia bots that are engaged in spats that never end

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 15:13:39 +0000

Bots are often used to help human editors manage changes made to Wikipedia – but they can get stuck in loops undoing each other’s edits for years

Could sex hormones help addicted women stop taking opioids?

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 10:00:15 +0000

Women get addicted to some drugs more quickly than men, and may get stronger cravings. The sex hormone cycle seems to be involved, which could lead to treatments

Scientists demand halt to damming of Europe’s last wild river

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 08:00:13 +0000

More than 200 researchers from 33 countries are urging the Albanian government to save the Vjosë, the continent’s last surviving unexplored waterway

Five wild lionesses grow a mane and start acting like males

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 06:00:00 +0000

The unusual characteristics of a few lionesses in Botswana may be down to excess testosterone, making them male-like as well as apparently infertile

World’s largest telescope array takes its deepest view yet

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 18:16:04 +0000

The ALMA array has checked out the iconic Hubble Ultra Deep Field, which contains 10,000 galaxies in a single image, to make the deepest millimetre-wavelength image of the sky

Body clock gene may help lethal spread of breast cancer

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 18:00:17 +0000

Shift work raises the risk of breast cancer, and now a gene associated with the body clock seems to makes its spread more likely in mice

You can see fracking’s impact on Earth’s surface from space

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 18:00:02 +0000

Fracking can cause the ground to rise – a change visible from space, which can now be used to predict where frack-induced quakes might strike

World war on superbugs can only be won by a UN-led global effort

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 17:49:39 +0000

Antibiotic resistance is now such a big threat that only a global campaign akin to that on HIV can tackle it, say Dilip Nathwani and Ramanan Laxminarayan

Mystery text’s language-like patterns may be an elaborate hoax

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 17:17:18 +0000

The Voynich manuscript from the Middle Ages has natural-looking word patterns, leading some to argue it's a secret code – but some still say it may have been faked

Repairing your old fridge sounds green but buying new is better

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 15:23:16 +0000

A proposed tax cut for repairs in Sweden is designed to reduce carbon emissions, but for some possessions it's better to just replace it, says Michael Le Page

Fish recorded singing dawn chorus on reefs just like birds

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 09:00:35 +0000

Underwater recordings of vocal fish off the Australian coast reveal an ocean choir composed of at least seven distinct choruses

Should UK’s Royal Society host those who deny climate science?

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 14:14:02 +0000

The scientific society risks undermining some of its good work by hiring out its prestigious platform to people who should be ignored, says Michael Le Page

Kuwait lawyers fight world’s first mandatory DNA sampling law

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 13:28:07 +0000

All visitors to Kuwait and all Kuwaitis renewing their passports will soon be required to give DNA samples, prompting lawyers to fight for genetic privacy

World’s hardiest animal has evolved radiation shield for its DNA

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 15:00:38 +0000

Tough ‘water bears’ defy intense radiation by apparently wrapping their genetic material in a bizarre protein that can also protect human cells

Quantum teleportation over 7 kilometres of cables smashes record

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 15:00:46 +0000

Two groups have set a new record for quantum teleportation, setting the stage for encoded communications networks that stretch between cities

The oil and gas we have already tapped will take us past 1.5 °C

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 06:00:38 +0000

Fossil fuels already being exploited will take us past the dangerous 2 °C warming level, exceeding the cap agreed at the Paris climate summit

How baby beluga whales dive deeper and longer than any others

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 22:00:35 +0000

Arctic sea ice forces baby belugas to hold their breath longer than other young whales. Special muscle adaptations help the babies survive

Revealed: The renewable energy scam making global warming worse

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 18:00:00 +0000

The largest source of "clean" energy is not reducing carbon emissions by as much as official figures claim – and it is causing immense harm to the poor and to wildlife

Gene-reading software to cut TB diagnosis from months to minutes

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Drug-resistant tuberculosis is on the rise. Software that predicts the specific cocktail of drugs to use in each case will help

Send secret messages hidden in the DNA of bacterial spores

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Bacterial DNA could provide a good long-term solution for storing digital information thanks to new encryption techniques that protect it from hackers

Germany to create world’s first highway code for driverless cars

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 18:00:00 +0000

The three laws of robotic cars will place liability for collisions on the makers of autonomous vehicles, putting them on same legal footing as human drivers

Brain has carrot and stick to teach us how to behave

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 17:00:47 +0000

A hub in our brain might reward us when we do well and punish us when something goes wrong, teaching us strategies for life that help us survive

The most detailed look yet at how early humans left Africa

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 17:00:09 +0000

Whole-genome studies of nearly 800 people from around the world show that all modern humans from outside Africa are descended from one group of migrants

Paris climate deal may come into force by the end of 2016

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 14:43:20 +0000

More than 55 countries have ratified the UN’s climate agreement, meeting the first of two thresholds needed for it to come into force

Surfing on a turtle’s tail makes swinging crabs monogamous

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 23:01:57 +0000

A tiny ocean surfing crab adapts its mating systems to its home, opting for a promiscuous lifestyle on floating debris and a single mate when riding a turtle

It’s time for a serious debate about head transplants

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 16:15:33 +0000

Many are reluctant to engage with the claims of head transplant pioneers, fearing that any comment will be seen as an endorsement. The time for silence is over

Should babies be given solids earlier to prevent food allergies?

Mon, 19 Oct 2015 16:00:00 +0000

Many countries advise keeping babies off solid food until 6 months, but the latest evidence suggest that this could be making allergies more likely

Oil pipeline leak threatens Alabama river rich in unique species

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 14:33:01 +0000

South-eastern US faces price hikes as hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel spill into a pond in Alabama, upstream of an ecologically important river

Travellers warned of fatal tick-borne disease in Western Europe

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 16:27:16 +0000

Two people have caught Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever in Spain, a virus that can kill up to 30 per cent of those who catch it

Building blocks of memories seen in brains for the first time

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 18:00:37 +0000

Observations of hundreds of neurons in mice suggest that we may divide our memories of where we’ve been into small chunks of experience

‘Alien megastructure’ star may be explained by interstellar junk

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 15:56:10 +0000

It seems the famous star isn’t the only one that’s dimming strangely – a result that suggests interstellar rocks might be the culprit for this behaviour

What you eat when you’re sick may determine if you’ll get better

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 11:31:51 +0000

Glucose and ketogenic diets affect immune responses in mice in different ways, preventing nerve damage or seizures – a finding that may save lives

Revealed: Google’s plan for quantum computer supremacy

Wed, 31 Aug 2016 16:00:00 +0000

The field of quantum computing is undergoing a rapid shake-up, and engineers at Google have quietly set out a plan to dominate

Grand project to unify global efforts to understand the brain

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 11:17:46 +0000

A New York neuroscience summit aims to coordinate big money brain projects around the world, but will delegates agree on the field's top priorities?

Tap-dancing songbirds drum with their feet to attract mates

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 09:00:35 +0000

The superfast tap dance of the blue-capped cordon-bleu is thought to play a role in courtship. Now it seems it’s not just for looks – noise is also important

First glimpse of a black hole being born from a star’s remains

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 17:34:55 +0000

Hubble has caught a red supergiant star flaring up and disappearing – probably because it was transformed into a black hole

Kuwait’s mass DNA database is a huge attack on genetic privacy

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 12:56:37 +0000

The Gulf state will soon be the first nation to force all residents and visitors to hand over DNA, risking its reputation and more, warns geneticist Olaf Rieß

Rattlesnakes silently shook their tails before evolving rattles

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 12:46:34 +0000

Which came first, the rattle or the shake? A study of some 50 species of venomous and non-venomous snakes suggests the behaviour existed long before the tool

Snub-nosed monkeys are so inbred they may struggle to survive

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 12:00:16 +0000

South-East Asia's Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys are in bigger trouble than we thought, with low genetic diversity among the largest wild population

Arctic summer sea ice melts to second lowest level ever recorded

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 10:28:12 +0000

The melt follows last year’s record low of winter ice that set stage for the summer low. Long term consequences for ecosystems could be dire

Saturn’s rings may be from the whirl of a passing icy rock

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 10:50:11 +0000

The direction an unlucky planetoid is spinning may dictate how much of it gets pulverised and pulled into orbit to create the bands around the giant planets

Cold fusion is better left out in the cold

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 18:00:00 +0000

An influx of money coming from investors has got the US Congress interested in funding cold fusion. Such a move would probably be a waste of taxpayer money

Drones get first anti-laser lasers to stop being shot down

Fri, 09 Sep 2016 11:56:47 +0000

With warships equipped with lasers to destroy drones and soldiers using lasers to dazzle the enemy, the first anti-laser defence system is now being tested

The US isn’t giving away the internet – it never had control

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 16:04:59 +0000

Senator Ted Cruz claims imminent changes will mean the US government losing control over the internet. That just doesn't grasp the real problems, says Hal Hodson

Gaia’s new star map will also reveal asteroids and dark matter

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 15:31:19 +0000

The Gaia satellite's main mission may be to map the stars in our home galaxy, but its extracurricular plans are just as thrilling

Kamikaze galaxy explodes after diving into the Milky Way 

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 15:14:43 +0000

Distant dwarf galaxy Hercules’s eccentric orbit of the Milky Way ripped it apart, scattering its stars across space

This is why Apple got rid of the headphone jack on the iPhone 7

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 12:06:14 +0000

The new iPhone has wireless earbuds called AirPods instead of its iconic white headphones. This is the beginning of your hearable future

China launches a space station and wants an even bigger one

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 10:47:59 +0000

Tiangong-2 is another step in the long march towards China's goal of a permanent space station – and to signal that it won't play second fiddle to the US

UK approves controversial Hinkley C nuclear power plant

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 10:24:32 +0000

A controversial £18 billion nuclear power plant has been given the government go-ahead after much delay and criticism of its high costs and delays

Utopia is unobtainable, but worth pursuing for all our sakes

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 11:00:00 +0000

A Bronze Age civilisation that came closer to utopia than we have yet, shows us that we should make sure the world has abundance, freedom and peace

Doctors ‘nudged’ into prescribing far fewer antibiotics

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 23:01:56 +0000

Sending a subtle letter to 800 GP practices has reduced antibiotic prescriptions by more than 73,000, the UK “nudge unit” has claimed

Living a perfect Facebook life isn’t worth the real-world stress

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 17:00:00 +0000

Social networks let us put our best face forward, letting us be someone we're not when offline – but faking it comes with a cost

One Per Cent

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 17:00:00 +0000

AI helps fight future fires, reading a book through its cover, and delivery bots get a mother ship

60 Seconds

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 17:00:00 +0000

Fishy nanobots, presidential parasite, Virgin Galactic flies again and more

Hawaiian crows can use sticks as tools but are nearly extinct

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 17:00:28 +0000

Like their cousins the New Caledonian crows, island-welling Hawaiian crows seem naturally disposed to using tools for getting food

New Horizons discovery raises solar wind riddle around Pluto

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 15:47:02 +0000

The spacecraft’s observations of the dwarf planet’s atmosphere have raised questions over existing models of the solar wind

Gaia’s map of 1 billion stars is the clearest view of our galaxy

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 14:41:17 +0000

The first data released from the European Space Agency’s star mapping space telescope will transform astronomy forever, expanding our view 1000-fold

Asteroid assault on early planets was more like a gentle massage

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 14:28:17 +0000

Most models of the early solar system say it endured a period of intense asteroid strikes dubbed the Late Heavy Bombardment - but new isotope data paints a calmer picture

White killer whales were a legend – now they are everywhere

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 14:08:02 +0000

White orcas are so rare, there was once only one. Now they are being spotted more frequently – and the reason is not good news

More than half of UK species in decline – some may soon vanish

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 23:01:57 +0000

A new report paints a gloomy picture and blames intensive farming and climate change for an ongoing devastation of wildlife across the UK

Star arrangement that hid for a decade spotted at galaxy’s heart

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 16:34:28 +0000

A dense cluster of stars orbiting the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way has played hide-and-seek with astronomers for years – now we've finally seen it

Here’s why “two-dad” babies aren’t yet a biological reality

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 15:00:31 +0000

Healthy mice have been made using sperm and non-egg cells for the first time, but the technique is unlikely to work using cells derived from a man’s skin

Rosetta set for a grand finale by diving into cometary cave

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 14:51:43 +0000

ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft will end its two-year mission orbiting comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by crashing into a once-active pit named Deir el-Medina

How forensic science can stop slaughter of endangered wildlife

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 11:42:31 +0000

Technology to investigate wildlife trafficking is rapidly improving, but countries also need to agree new ways of working and better training and resources

Oil pipeline construction halted after Native American protests

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 12:59:44 +0000

The conduit for oil has sparked protests and a lawsuit led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and now the US has halted construction on a section of the pipeline

Deaths from 9/11-related illness are set to exceed initial toll

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 17:04:21 +0000

Trebling since 2014 in cancers linked to debris from the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 could push “aftermath” deaths beyond 3000 within five years

Blue Origin unveils big new rocket that will put humans in orbit

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 15:08:27 +0000

The firm, headed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is planning at least two new rockets more powerful than any in current use - but SpaceX may beat them to it

Full and new moons linked to timing of largest, deadliest quakes

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 15:00:34 +0000

The tides may have an effect on Earth’s crust, adding stress to earthquake faults and causing larger quakes around the times of the full and new moon

Placenta’s alarm clock signals when it’s time for birth to begin

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 14:49:14 +0000

Slowing the timer, or speeding it up, could provide a way to avoid potentially dangerous premature and late births, which cause millions of deaths globally

Oceans given boost as nations agree to protect a third worldwide

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 14:55:43 +0000

But the deal is not legally binding, and opposition from some big countries to the idea could make it largely symbolic

Human sperm grown in a lab for the first time, claims study

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 14:36:35 +0000

Human sperm has been made in the lab for the first time – maybe. A French team made the claim in a peer-reviewed study, but rival groups remain sceptical

Knowing you’re being manipulated doesn’t stop it from happening

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 13:00:37 +0000

Subtle nudges to alter our behaviour still work if we're told about them beforehand, making us donate more to charity and eat healthier food

AI can join the fight back against the post-truth world

Wed, 07 Sep 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Facts are a debased currency in public debate. Technology can drive the pushback by calling out powerful people who peddle flawed arguments

When infinity gets boring: What went wrong with No Man’s Sky

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 16:36:12 +0000

It promised the world. In fact, it promised the universe, but just hours after the year’s most hyped game was released, players complained they were bored. Why?

There is now a sixth taste – and it explains why we love carbs

Fri, 02 Sep 2016 10:14:19 +0000

Sweet, salty, bitter, sour, umami – and “starchy”? It seems we can sense bread-like flavours associated with complex carbohydrates as a taste in their own right

Myth busted: dumped pills aren’t main source of drugs in sewage

Fri, 09 Sep 2016 17:17:47 +0000

Waste water tests show the pharmaceuticals they contain are mainly excreted, suggesting that more expensive treatment may be needed to deal with them

Tiny lightning bolt explosions can vaporise the moon’s thin soil

Fri, 09 Sep 2016 17:06:03 +0000

If electrical charges build up in cold lunar dust, they might cause tiny explosions, melting and vaporising soil and altering the face of the moon

Global treaty set to halt invasive species ravaging our oceans

Fri, 09 Sep 2016 16:35:18 +0000

Many ships will soon have to install systems to deal with stowaways species in their ballast water that have caused havoc when dumped far from home

Virgin Galactic returns to the skies two years after fatal crash

Fri, 09 Sep 2016 14:42:40 +0000

The private spaceflight company made a successful test flight of its SpaceShipTwo and White Knight craft over the Mojave Desert

World’s first ‘nanofish’ could be used as guided drug missiles

Fri, 09 Sep 2016 13:26:03 +0000

Inspired by the swimming style of real fish, the nanofish is 100 times smaller than a grain of sand, and could be used to carry drugs to specific sites in the body

White gulls dependent on ice are disappearing from the Arctic

Fri, 09 Sep 2016 12:06:13 +0000

Melting sea ice may be one of the factors driving ivory gulls to whiter pastures as they search for food

Reform damaging prisons, or risk losing the fight against crime

Fri, 09 Sep 2016 12:03:01 +0000

Penal reform in the UK and beyond will only work if rehabilitation – not harmful retribution – is at the heart of prison systems, says Arne Kvernvik Nilsen

North Korea’s largest nuclear test still lacks missile capacity

Fri, 09 Sep 2016 10:21:24 +0000

The nation's fifth atomic test has been revealed by a magnitude 5 earthquake, the strongest to date, but the country may still be far from the ability to mount a strike

Fear of vaccine safety is higher in Europe than in the US

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 23:01:18 +0000

A survey across 67 countries has found that Europe is the world’s most sceptical region when it comes to vaccines, especially people in France

CSI Eta Carinae: Clouds suggest odd star’s history of violence

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 20:52:24 +0000

A strange star called Eta Carinae erupted like a supernova in 1843, yet lived to tell the tale. New observations reveal two earlier outbursts

Ants trapped in nuclear bunker are developing their own society

Mon, 05 Sep 2016 15:48:35 +0000

With new recruits that keep raining in from up above, this unique society has no queen, and the ants work in pitch darkness with no obvious access to food

Bacteria lurking in blood could be culprit in countless diseases

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 23:01:08 +0000

By triggering inflammation, bacteria could be to blame for the clots and plaques linked to stroke, Alzheimer's disease, arthritis and many other conditions

Paradise lost: we’ve destroyed most of the world’s wilderness

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 16:00:52 +0000

World’s truly wild regions could be gone altogether by the end of the century if current trend of decline continues

Hackers stealing and selling your health records must be stopped

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 15:06:00 +0000

Medical computers in the US are being widely breached and sensitive data traded on shady websites. We must get to grips with this problem, says James Scott

Dark matter clumps may have punched through star stream

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 14:24:59 +0000

Two mysterious holes spotted in a stream of stars orbiting the Milky Way could be due to dark matter bullets - and could help reveal its true nature

Human activity means sharks are disappearing from the North Sea

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 14:54:19 +0000

A two month survey of marine sites in the North Sea has found few long-living species in the water, and other signs that the ecosystems there are changing

World’s loneliest snail lives in Hawaii but can’t get a date

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 12:20:31 +0000

Only a single individual of a Hawaiian snail species is known, and most of archipelago's 50 other remaining snail species may go extinct soon

Think gluten-free is just a fad? The science isn’t settled yet

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 11:40:24 +0000

More people in the US who aren't diagnosed coeliacs are avoiding gluten. That might seem pointless, but we don't fully grasp wheat's effects, says Clare Wilson