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Week of May 26, 2007; Vol. 171, No. 21

This Week's Cover

Soaking Up the Sun

Solar cells cover the roof of the Highlands Patrol Headquarters building at the Aspen Mountain Resort in Aspen, Colo. Scientists are seeking to improve such technologies so that sunlight, the most abundant of all renewable energies, can be a major source of power. (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)  More...


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Violent Past: Young sun withstood a supernova blast

A big bully pummeled the infant solar system, first by blasting it with a massive wind, then by exploding nearby, driving shock waves into the fledgling solar system and irrevocably altering its chemistry.

Virgin Birth: Shark has daughter without a dad

DNA testing of two sharks confirms an instance of reproduction without mating, adding a fifth major vertebrate lineage to those known for occasional virgin births.

Circadian Fix: Viagra may lessen effects of jet lag

Sildenafil, the male-impotence drug marketed as Viagra, helps laboratory rodents recovery from circadian disruptions similar to jet lag.

Fish Free Fall: Hormone leads to population decline

Trace amounts of the synthetic estrogen used in birth control pills can cause a fish population to collapse.

Dark Power: Pigment seems to put radiation to good use

The pigment melanin may enable certain fungi to convert dangerous radiation into usable energy.

Face Talk: Babies see their way to language insights

Babies 4 to 6 months old can distinguish between two languages solely by watching a speaker's face, without hearing sound.

Hot Competition: Students display winning projects

High school students from 51 countries gathered in Albuquerque last week to compete for scholarships and other prizes at the 2007 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

Reaching for Rays

Harnessing the sun's rays cheaply and efficiently could address the planet's energy needs.

Dangerous History

The genome of the TB bacterium has small but significant pockets of diversity, giving scientists new targets for preventing and treating the disease.

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Migraines in men linked to heart attack risk

Men who experience migraine headaches are somewhat more likely to have heart attacks than are other men.

When female chimps become baby killers

Although long thought to be rare, instances in which female chimps band together to kill other females' infants occur fairly regularly under certain circumstances.

Southern seas slow their uptake of CO2

In recent decades, the rate at which oceans in the Southern Hemisphere soak up atmospheric carbon dioxide has slowed.

Synesthesia tied to brain connections

People who see specific colors when looking at particular letters possess an unusually large number of connections in brain areas that influence word and color perception.

Unintended consequences of cancer therapies

Radiation and chemotherapy can destroy a tumor, but they may also indirectly promote metastasis, the spread of cancerous cells to other organs.

Nail-gun injuries shoot up

Nail-gun injuries among do-it-yourself carpenters have tripled since 1991.

Onward, microbes

With a tweak to their genetic codes, bacteria have been coaxed to follow a chemical trail of a researcher's choosing.

The dance of the electron spins

Physicists have used a novel measuring technique to track the motions of electron spins in a tiny magnet as its polarity flips, with north and south poles changing places.

Letters from the May 26, 2007, issue of Science News


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