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L.A. Times - Science

In-depth science news coverage of space exploration, medical science, climate change, technological breakthroughs and more.

Last Build Date: Sat, 25 Mar 2017 02:46:57 -0700

Copyright: ©2017 Los Angeles Times

‘Bad luck’ with random DNA errors is responsible for two-thirds of cancer mutations, study says

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 16:15:00 PDT

Even in a world with a pristine environment, no cigarettes and the ability to fix faulty genes inherited from our parents, most of the cancers diagnosed today still would occur thanks to a combination of biology and bad luck.

Every new case of cancer depends on a collection of specific mutations...


Exploring the magic and mystery of mushrooms with the L.A. Mycological Society

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 04:00:00 PDT

There was a dump truck driver from Baldwin Park, a humanities professor from Long Beach, a conceptual artist from Altadena and a stay-at-home dad from Mid-City.

They didn’t have much in common, except for one thing: They’d all fallen for fungus. Hard.

Their shared obsession led them to the Los...


New view of dinosaurs could radically reshape their family tree

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 15:00:00 PDT

The dinosaur family tree may need to be radically rewritten — and even uprooted and replanted elsewhere, a new analysis of about 75 different species shows.

The findings, published in the journal Nature, hint that dinosaurs may have originated in the northern hemisphere rather than the southern,...


Why would beetles want to look, act and smell like army ants? To eat them, of course

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:45:00 PDT

Army ant colonies are home to a treasure trove of raided food and helpless juveniles that other insects would love to feed on. But one does not simply walk into an army ant colony and start eating.

Ill-prepared intruders would face swarms of aggressive ants eager to defend their nest. That’s why...


Gun injuries cost Americans $730 million a year in hospital bills

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 03:00:00 PDT

Americans paid more than $6.6 billion over eight years to care for victims of gun violence, according to a new tally of hospital bills. And U.S. taxpayers picked up at least 41% of that tab.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, say the authors of a study published this week in the American Journal...


Ancient relative of crabs, shrimps and lobsters is named in honor of David Attenborough

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 20:25:00 PDT

Scientists have discovered the fossil remains of a 430-million-year-old crustacean previously unknown to science – a proto-shrimp that they’re naming in honor of British naturalist and television personality David Attenborough. The new species, described in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, could...


Sorry, moms: Prenatal vitamins with DHA won’t boost your kids' IQ after all

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 15:35:00 PDT

Researchers have some bad news for moms who used DHA supplements while they were pregnant in hopes of boosting their baby’s brains:

It didn’t work.

At age 7, kids whose mothers took DHA scored no higher on an IQ test than kids whose moms swallowed capsules that were DHA-free.

The results are the...


Why global warming could lead to a rise of 100,000 diabetes cases a year in the U.S.

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 18:00:00 PDT

If the average temperature rises by 1 degree Celsius, sea levels will rise, crop yields will fall and vulnerable species will see their habitat shrink or disappear.

And, a new study suggests, the number of American adults suffering from diabetes would rise by more than 100,000 a year.

Experts have...


The Great American Eclipse

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 16:59:00 PDT

The Great American Eclipse


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As the planet gets hotter, some mammals may get smaller

Fri, 17 Mar 2017 18:45:00 PDT

Fifty-six million years ago, about 10 million years after the dinosaurs went extinct, something strange happened to our planet.

It got hot.

Really hot.

Hotter than it had ever been since the Earth formed a few billion years earlier.

Carbon signatures in the geological record show that global temperature...


How the Great Barrier Reef is responding to global warming. (Hint: not well)

Fri, 17 Mar 2017 14:40:00 PDT

Global warming has likely caused permanent damage to the world's largest coral reef, according to a new report in the journal Nature.

In the last 20 years, rising temperatures have triggered three severe bleaching events in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The most recent was in 2016, when more...


Trump’s budget plan for NASA focuses on studying space, not climate change

Thu, 16 Mar 2017 20:25:00 PDT

NASA missions to the surface of Europa, a nearby asteroid and the atmosphere above our own planet would be cut from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s portfolio under the White House budget proposal released Thursday.

But one of JPL’s signature programs, the Mars 2020 mission to send a sample-collecting...


20% cut to NIH budget would leave Americans more vulnerable to cancer and other diseases, experts warn

Thu, 16 Mar 2017 16:25:00 PDT

A future in which cancers are cured, heart disease prevented and devastating brain disorders reversed may just have gotten a bit more distant, leaders of the nation’s leading biomedical research organizations said Thursday.

In a budget blueprint that promises to “make America great again,” the...


Would you deliver an electric shock at someone's orders? A new take on the Milgram experiment shows the answer is likely still yes

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 03:00:00 PDT

More than 50 years ago, American social psychologist Stanley Milgram found that, when prodded by someone in charge, just about every one of us would do something that most would find deeply disturbing: comply with an authority figure’s stern directive to deliver painful electric shocks to an unseen...


People overestimate the size of black men, perceive them as more threatening than white men, study finds

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 11:25:00 PDT

People consistently perceive black men to be bigger and more muscular than they actually are — and as more of a threat — than they do white men of the same size, a new study shows.

The findings, presented in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, shed light on the deadly link that such...


Dying patients want easier access to experimental drugs. Here's why experts say that's bad medicine

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 03:00:00 PDT

Former firefighter Mike DeBartoli is a man desperate to rescue himself. He suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the degenerative nerve disorder better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, which usually kills within five years. He has already spent one year in a clinical trial, taking four pills...


Your kids aren't killing you; one day they may actually help you live longer

Mon, 13 Mar 2017 17:15:00 PDT

Sometimes — a lot of times — it feels as if being a parent is shaving years off your life, but a new study suggests that’s not the case.

In fact, just the opposite may be true.

In a paper published Monday in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, a team of Swedish researchers report...


Even you can have the memory of a champion memorizer

Fri, 10 Mar 2017 04:00:00 PST

The making of a memory champion, it turns out, is not so different from the making of any other great athlete.

To triumph in sport, athletes sculpt muscle and sinew and lash them together with head and heart to deliver optimum performance. To perform extraordinary feats of memorization, memory...


George Olah, USC scientist who won Nobel Prize in chemistry, dies at 89

Thu, 9 Mar 2017 16:20:00 PST

George Olah, a USC chemist and Nobel laureate who found new ways to study previously imperceptible stages in hydrocarbon-related chemical reactions, has died at his Beverly Hills home at age 89.

The Hungarian-born scientist’s research, which earned USC its first Nobel in 1994, fueled the advancement...


Vegetarian Neanderthals? Extinct human relatives hid a mouthful of surprises

Thu, 9 Mar 2017 09:25:00 PST

It seems modern humans aren’t the only ones to have had regional cuisine. According to the plaque on their teeth, Neanderthals had striking differences in their diets, depending on where they lived — and they may have used plants and mold to treat illness and pain.

The findings, described this...


These three drugs may boost your thinking skills but cost you time-wise

Thu, 9 Mar 2017 03:00:00 PST

For the cognitively ambitious among us, there are always new debates to win, tests to ace, and feats of intellect to accomplish. And just as for the athletically gifted, the lure of performance-enhancing drugs is hard to resist.

The question is, can drugs boost intellectual performance?

New research...


An outbreak in Brazil has U.S. health experts wondering if yellow fever could be the next Zika

Wed, 8 Mar 2017 15:50:00 PST

Yellow fever has broken out in the jungles outside Brazil’s most densely-populated cities, raising a frightening but still remote possibility: an epidemic that could decimate that country’s population and spread throughout the Americas, including the United States.

In an essay rushed into print...


When it rains, Los Angeles sends billions of gallons of 'free liquid gold' down the drain

Wed, 8 Mar 2017 03:00:00 PST

During one of this winter’s frequent storms, sheets of rainwater spilled from roofs, washed across sidewalks and down gutters into a sprawling network of underground storm drains that empty into the Los Angeles River channel.

Normally a thin flow of treated sewage, the river swelled with mocha-colored...


Bill in Congress aims to take shark fins off the menu throughout the United States

Tue, 7 Mar 2017 18:50:00 PST

It’s been four years since California’s ban on the purchase and possession of shark fins went into effect. And yet, more than 60 tons of shark fins arrive at the Port of Los Angeles each year, bound for chefs and grocers in states where sales of the Asian delicacy remain unfettered.

Rep. Ed Royce...


Computers can now challenge — and beat — professional poker players at Texas hold 'em

Tue, 7 Mar 2017 17:05:00 PST

First they figured out how to play checkers and backgammon. Then they mastered chess, Go, “Jeopardy!” and even a few Atari video games. Now computers can challenge humans at the poker table — and win.

DeepStack, a software program developed at the University of Alberta’s Computer Poker Research...