Gathering Scientific Evidence that Traditional Medicines Can Work

Traditional medicine doesn't just fill up the health food aisle at the supermarket — it could help make everybody healthier. But how can we figure out which ancient herbal remedies actually work, and which ones are just hype? An estimated 10,000 to 53,000 plant species were traditionally used as medicines, and only… » 9/12/12 10:30am 9/12/12 10:30am

Saturn's moon Phoebe could have been a planet

When it comes to Saturn's moons, Phoebe tends to be overshadowed by its siblings. Titan's size earns her the title of Saturn's biggest moon (and the second-biggest moon in our solar system), while Enceladus boasts those attention-getting fountains of water and ice pouring from its south pole. But new data from the… » 4/29/12 7:30am 4/29/12 7:30am

Immersion in a foreign language rewires your brain - especially when…

By the time you reach adulthood, learning a foreign language is a struggle – even after you memorize grammar and vocabulary, there's no guarantee that you'll understand a fast-talking native speaker, and when you stop studying for even a month, you seem to forget everything you'd learned. » 3/31/12 2:00pm 3/31/12 2:00pm

Ancient raindrop fossils reveal that we can thank greenhouse gases for…

A raindrop is temporary, leaving behind a damp blotch and no more. Even if it falls in just the right area to create an imprint, even if that imprint is preserved for billions of years, it's just the imprint of a raindrop…right? Well, a fossilized footprint can teach archaeologists about the creatures who roamed the… » 3/30/12 4:20pm 3/30/12 4:20pm

How this robot climbs walls using snake scales

What happens when you put snakes on a plane? No, not with Samuel L. Jackson – on a steep inclined plane. Generally, the animals will begin to slide down. But they can halt their fall by actively changing the positioning of their scales to increase friction. Knowing this has allowed robotic engineers to build better… » 3/21/12 1:51pm 3/21/12 1:51pm

Scientists say sugar is as toxic as alcohol - and there should be a…

Sure, sugar's bad for you. But should we establish a drinking age for sugary sodas? According to UC San Francisco pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig, the answer is emphatically yes. He says that added sweeteners have health effects comparable to alcohol and tobacco, and should be regulated accordingly. In a… » 2/01/12 12:24pm 2/01/12 12:24pm

To deal with stress, yeast cells ditch whole chromosomes

It's a central tenet of evolution: Life must adapt to its surroundings or die. And the genome knows it. A new study published in the journal Nature shows that in more stressful surroundings, a yeast cell's genome actually gains or loses chromosomes, improving the cell's ability to mutate - and thus its adaptability.… » 1/29/12 10:00am 1/29/12 10:00am

What Pigeons Teach Us About Convergent Evolution

Picture a pigeon: gray body, iridescent neck feathers, probably pecking away at trash on a city sidewalk. But there are actually more than 350 different breeds of pigeon, and many of them look nothing like the familiar city pest. A new study examines the physical and genetic differences between the pigeon breeds, to… » 1/20/12 7:40am 1/20/12 7:40am

How exactly do neurons pass signals through your nervous system?

You probably think of your nervous system as a kind of computer network, or some kind of electrical system that passes nerve impulses around. But in reality, the miraculous journey of a signal thorough your nervous system is a story that involves cell biology, chemistry and physics. Your brain contains 30 billion… » 1/19/12 12:39pm 1/19/12 12:39pm

Is dark matter generating mysterious radio waves?

Although dark matter's exact nature is still unknown, what we do know is that the amount of gravity in the universe is greater than the amount of visible matter that it corresponds to. This anomaly could be explained by some unseen source of extra mass, which provides the additional gravity that helps hold galaxies… » 1/06/12 8:44am 1/06/12 8:44am

Can dogs tell when we're talking to them?

Dogs make great companions – they're affectionate, adorable, and excellent listeners. But do they really know when we're talking to them? A Hungarian study tracked dogs' eye movements in order to monitor their focus of attention, concluding that the animals pay more attention to humans after being addressed directly. » 1/05/12 10:03am 1/05/12 10:03am