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

Amazing videos show nanorods taking shape

The dream of nanotechnology includes unbelievably tiny electronic devices — including medical devices that could work at the microscopic level. But how do you assemble nanoparticles into larger systems, like nanocrystals? You can't exactly use a pair of tweezers. » 5/24/12 2:30pm 5/24/12 2:30pm

Let them eat fractal pancakes

Pancake artists, you need to up your game. Nathan Shields, an illustrator and former math teacher, is turning fried batter into an art form. In order to be a full-time dad, Shields is taking a break from teaching, but his math background — he still blogs about it at 10 Minute Math — is influencing his parenting. What… » 5/12/12 2:55pm 5/12/12 2:55pm

How long ago did we finish domesticating horses?

From Black Beauty to My Little Pony: Frienship is Magic, humans have an ongoing love affair with horses (and their smaller pony cousins). But not too long ago, the wild creatures that became horses looked considerably different. » 5/09/12 12:40pm 5/09/12 12:40pm

Robots could soon be probing your brain

To figure out how your brain works, researchers need to be able to measure the electrical activity of neurons. But now, a new method allows robots to perform the task instead. » 5/09/12 10:58am 5/09/12 10:58am

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

People with tattoos drink more alcohol than their friends, say…

Although tattoos and body piercings have gone mainstream, they still carry a connotation of risky behavior. And a new study suggests this stereotype is borne out in the drinking habits of those who modify their bodies: they drink more alcohol than their friends with undecorated skins. » 4/17/12 3:20pm 4/17/12 3:20pm

Want to bring peace to the Middle East? Use some science

In which international organization do delegates from Israel and Iran sit side-by-side in harmony? Hint: It's not the U.N. SESAME, or Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East, has united several countries in the quest to bring a light synchrotron to the Mid-East. » 4/11/12 2:59pm 4/11/12 2:59pm

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

5 Ways Cyborg Insects Could Change The World

Scientists have made amazing progress lately in turning insects into cyborgs. Almost every week, there's another news story about cyborg insect first responders, or cockroach fuel cells. Soon enough, when someone plants an eavesdropping device in your house, it'll literally be a "bug." » 2/29/12 12:16pm 2/29/12 12:16pm

The World's Next Supercontinent: Amasia!

The United States hasn't always had the closest relationship with China or Russia. But give us a few hundred million years, and we could be a lot more unified: A new prediction for the motion of the continents suggests that the Americas and Asia will smoosh together at the north to form the supercontinent dubbed… » 2/08/12 12:33pm 2/08/12 12:33pm

Could imported elephants trample Australia's environmental woes?

Australia faces serious ecological threats posed by feral animals and out-of-control wildfires. Non-native species gone wild have contributed to both problems, and one biologist is suggesting that Australia fight fire with fire by introducing more non-native species. » 2/07/12 9:55am 2/07/12 9:55am

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