‘Lucy’s baby’ suggests famed human ancestor had a primitive brain
Apr 2, 2020

By Ann Gibbons In 1974, the world was stunned by the discovery of “Lucy,” the partial skeleton of a human ancestor that walked upright—and still spent time in the trees—3.2 million years ago. Later discoveries revealed her species, scattered throughout eastern Africa, had brains bigger than chimpanzees. But a new study of an ancient toddler …

Hubble Spots Black Hole ‘Missing Link’
Apr 1, 2020

By Bruce Dorminey The Hubble Space Telescope has detected the best-ever candidate for an intermediate- mass black hole (IMBH) —- a medium-sized black hole some 50,000 times the mass of our Sun in the act of gobbling up a passing star. If this discovery holds, it will provide astrophysicists with the long-sought after missing link in …

The $1 billion bet: Pharma giant and U.S. government team up in all-out coronavirus vaccine push
Mar 31, 2020

By Jon Cohen The crowded race to develop a vaccine against the new coronavirus just received a potential billion-dollar boost: Johnson & Johnson (J&J) announced on 30 March that it and the U.S. government, through a military research agency, would together devote up to that amount to move a candidate product made by its Janssen …

‘We need to be alert’: Scientists fear second coronavirus wave as China’s lockdowns ease
Mar 30, 2020 · 1 

By David Cyranoski For the first time in months, the Chinese province of Hubei, where the coronavirus first emerged, is getting attention for a good reason. COVID-19 cases there have dropped to practically zero, and last week authorities lifted travel restrictions in and out of the province, some 60 days after much of it was …

Australia’s Record Heat Means Another Blow to Great Barrier Reef
Mar 27, 2020

By Richard Pérez-Peña Record-breaking warm waters have bleached large parts of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef this year, as they did in 2016 and 2017, scientists reported on Thursday — the latest sign that global warming threatens the health of one of the world’s most important marine ecosystems. “We can confirm that the Great Barrier Reef …

How the Pandemic Will End
Mar 26, 2020 · 5 

By Ed Young Three months ago, no one knew that SARS-CoV-2 existed. Now the virus has spread to almost every country, infecting at least 446,000 people whom we know about, and many more whom we do not. It has crashed economies and broken health-care systems, filled hospitals and emptied public spaces. It has separated people …

Scientists, under pressure, try to balance speed and safety on coronavirus vaccine research
Mar 26, 2020

By Denise Chow For researchers working on possible coronavirus treatments, time is short. More than 100 clinical trials of dozens of potential coronavirus treatments are already underway around the world, a mobilization of global medical resources rarely seen before in human history. But science can be slow and indirect. And despite the sheer number of scientists involved in these …

‘Become experts on the thing that is threatening you’: Advice from astronauts on isolation on Earth
Mar 25, 2020 · 1 

By Meagan Flynn Before living for months in space, Christina Koch lived at the South Pole and Chris Hadfield lived at the bottom of the ocean, in a laboratory just off the coast of Florida. The astronauts didn’t get out much, or couldn’t, with Koch surrounded by frozen terrain and Hadfield 62 feet underwater. But …

Life on the Planet Mercury? ‘It’s Not Completely Nuts’
Mar 24, 2020

By Shannon Hall Mercury — a planet with a surface hot enough to melt lead — might once have contained ingredients needed for life. Though that’s a pretty big might. The new theory, published last week in the journal Scientific Reports, is based on a particularly muddled feature on the planet orbiting closest to the sun, …

NASA pauses work on James Webb Space Telescope due to coronavirus, weighs risk to other science missions
Mar 23, 2020

By Meghan Bartels As many NASA centers switch to mandatory telework to confront the spread of COVID-19, NASA leadership acknowledged that prized science missions may suffer delays and that the agency was prepared to make that trade in order to keep its employees safe. Among the missions affected is the James Webb Space Telescope, where work …

How ‘undertaker’ bees recognize dead comrades
Mar 20, 2020

By Eva Frederick They’re the undertakers of the bee world: a class of workers that scours hives for dead comrades, finding them in the dark in as little as 30 minutes, despite the fact that the deceased haven’t begun to give off the typical odors of decay. A new study may reveal how they do it. “The …

Covert coronavirus infections could be seeding new outbreaks
Mar 20, 2020

By Jane Qiu As coronavirus outbreaks surge worldwide, research teams are racing to understand a crucial epidemiological puzzle — what proportion of infected people have mild or no symptoms and might be passing the virus on to others. Some of the first detailed estimates of these covert cases suggest that they could represent some 60% …