Venus and a bizarre metal asteroid are leading destinations for low-cost NASA missions

Venus is back on NASA’s agenda. Today, NASA winnowed down the contenders for the agency’s next low-cost planetary science mission. Five finalists were announced from among 27 proposals in Discovery, a competitive mission line with a $500 million cost cap, and two of them are missions to...

Is an ancient virus responsible for some cases of Lou Gehrig’s disease?

A virus that long ago spliced itself into the human genome may play a role in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the deadly muscle degenerative disease that crippled baseball great Lou Gehrig and ultimately took his life. That’s the controversial conclusion of a new study, which finds...

Gut bacteria could predict asthma in kids

Dirty diapers are the unlikeliest of crystal balls, but they could hold the answer to why some children develop asthma. Just four types of gut bacteria in the stool seem to make all the difference, predicting who will get the disease and who won’t, researchers say. The finding could hel...

Treat all HIV-infected people, says new WHO guideline

In a widely anticipated move, the World Health Organization (WHO) today endorsed antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for all 37 million HIV-infected people around the world. Previous guidelines called for only treating the estimated 28 million HIV-infected people who have fewer than 500 CD4 ...

Amid budget fight, Illinois State Museum prepares to close

Last week paleoecologist Eric Grimm, the director of science at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, rented an 8-meter-long truck, bought $500 worth of lumber, and built temporary shelves in the back. Then, with the help of his wife and former coworkers, he loaded his cargo: roughl...

Dogs would rather watch people hugging than dogs ‘hugging’

Dogs are experts at reading other dogs’ body language, and also at interpreting human faces for cues as to intention and mood. Like people, dogs study the area around the eyes on the right side of a person’s face, where human emotions appear most intensely. But exactly how similar are d...

Video: Frog tongues stick like Scotch tape

Frog tongues have starred in thousands of slow-motion scenes, all of which end badly for their insect co-stars. Scientists already know a lot about how frogs launch their tongues from their mouths, but they know much less about how the sticky tongues adhere to their targets. Now, resear...

Scientist says researchers in immigrant-friendly nations can’t use his software

A German scientist is revoking the license to his bioinformatics software for researchers working in eight European countries because he believes those countries allow too many immigrants to cross their borders. From 1 October, scientists in Germany, Austria, France, the Netherlands, Be...

Talking science and God with the pope’s new chief astronomer

ROME—On 18 September, Pope Francis appointed Jesuit brother Guy Consolmagno as the new director of the Vatican Observatory, which employs a dozen astronomers to study asteroids, meteorites, extrasolar planets, stellar evolution, and cosmology. The observatory is based at the pope’...

German defense minister accused of plagiarism

BERLIN—A cabinet member often tagged as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s heir apparent is the latest politician to be tripped up by the country’s plagiarism sleuths. On Saturday, the website VroniPlag Wiki, a loose coalition of volunteers who scour dissertations for plagiarized passages and i...
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