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Scientists Are Working On A Universal COVID Vaccine As the Omicron wave of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spike around the U.S., there are scientists working not on variant-specific boosters, but on a vaccine that might cover every possible strain, past and future. Called universal vaccines, they require a fundamentally different approach from …
 
Identifying Animals Through Airborne DNA In recent years, the technique of eDNA—environmental DNA, or samples taken from the environment, as opposed to from a specific animal—has changed ecology research. Scientists have learned how to obtain eDNA from water samples, soil, and even the intestinal tract of other animals. Writing recently in the jour…
 
A Debate Over How The Universe Began Even though it’s commonly accepted today, the Big Bang theory was not always the universally accepted scientific explanation for how our universe began. In fact, the term ‘Big Bang’ was coined by a prominent physicist in 1948 to mock the idea. In the middle of the 20th century, researchers in the field of cosmol…
 
A Replacement Heart, From A Pig This week, doctors reported that they had successfully transplanted a heart taken from a pig into a human being, a type of procedure known as xenotransplantation. The pig had been genetically modified to lack a certain protein thought to be responsible for organ rejection in previous transplant attempts. The patient,…
 
Omicron Variant Drives Winter COVID Surge The United States set a global record this week, recording roughly one million new coronavirus tests in a single day. The current surge in cases is mostly driven by Omicron. The highly contagious variant accounted for about 95% of new cases last week. And, to top it all off, tests are in short supply, the C…
 
How A Former Microsoft Exec Mastered The Perfect Slice—Using Science Who doesn’t love pizza? It’s a magical combination of sauce, cheese, crust, and maybe even a topping or two. Depending on where you eat it, the ratio of sauce and cheese and toppings changes: Neapolitan, NY Style, and Chicago Deep Dish each have a slightly different recipe. And di…
 
Glitter Gets An Eco-Friendly Glimmer Glitter—it’s everywhere this time of year. You open up a holiday card, and out comes a sprinkle of it. And that glitter will seemingly be with you forever, hugging your sweater, covering the floor. But glitter doesn’t stop there. It washes down the drain, and travels into the sewage system and waterways. Since i…
 
From the Arctic To Enceladus: A Celebration Of Unusual Ice With the Arctic’s annual summer ice cover hovering at record lows; and a new record low in global sea ice coverage recorded earlier this year; and a large crack threatening the collapse of a large ice shelf in Antarctica, it can feel like the news about earth’s polar ice caps is all bad. Bu…
 
The Resurrection Of The American Chestnut At the turn of the 20th century, the American chestnut towered over other trees in forests along the eastern seaboard. These giants could grow up to 100 feet high and 13 feet wide. According to legend, a squirrel could scamper from New England to Georgia on the canopies of American chestnuts, never touching…
 
Looking Back On A Century of Science In 1921, the discovery of radium was just over 20 years in the past. And the double helix of DNA was still over thirty years in the future. That year, a publication that came to be the magazine Science News started publication, and is still in operation today. Editors Nancy Shute and Elizabeth Quill join Ira to …
 
Big Trees, Big Benefits When you think about big trees, likely what comes to mind are some of the Earth’s biggest trees, like giant sequoias or redwoods, which can grow to roughly 25 stories tall. But big trees are actually an essential part of every forest ecosystem. Big trees capture a disproportionate share of carbon, provide important animal ha…
 
A Spike In Winter COVID Cases Begins The United States reached a grim milestone this week: 800,000 total deaths from COVID-19. A winter spike in COVID cases is beginning across the country. And Omicron is making up an increasing share of new cases. Early data shows that the new variant is likely more transmissible than previous ones. Joining guest …
 
The Why Of Vocal Fry For decades, vocal fry lived a relatively quiet existence. A creaky or breathy sound that occurs when your voice drops to its lowest register, this phenomenon was long known to linguists, speech pathologists, and voice coaches—but everyday people didn’t pay much attention to it. Then in 2011, people started noticing it everywhe…
 
How America Is Preparing For Another Pandemic Winter The weather is getting colder, the days are getting shorter, and the world is approaching the two year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like last year, experts are wary that a winter surge in cases could happen again this year, even with the protection of vaccinations. The Biden administrati…
 
Decoding Quantum Computing The computer chips that are delivering these words to you work on a simple, binary, on/off principle. There’s either a voltage, or there’s not. The ‘bits’ encoded by the presence or absence of electrons form the basis for much of our online world. Now, physicists and engineers are working to create systems based on the st…
 
Travel Bans Do Little To Slow Spread Of Omicron After South African researchers first detected the new COVID variant Omicron last week, it’s already been found in dozens of countries around the world, including in the United States. Travel restrictions imposed by the Biden administration and others have done little to slow its spread. Instead, expe…
 
A More Delicious COVID Screener One of the most bizarre symptoms of COVID-19—a nearly surefire way to know if you have been infected—is a loss of taste or smell. Estimates of how many people are impacted range wildly, with the highest estimates reaching 75 to 80% of COVID-19 survivors. There’s still a lot scientists don’t understand about why this …
 
New Cold Storage Method Solves Freezer Burn—And Saves Energy Have you ever pulled a long-anticipated pint of ice cream out of the freezer, only to find the strawberries crunchy and the normally creamy substance chalky and caked with ice? Freezer burn, a phenomenon caused by water in food crystallizing into ice inside the ice cream or fruit or meat …
 
Blunting The Force Of Disease Is Complicated COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe disease. But their efficacy in lab-controlled trials may not exactly correlate to how well they work in the real world. David Kaslow, chief scientific officer at the global public health nonprofit PATH, explains that a factor known as the “force…
 
Here’s How Biden’s Infrastructure Bill Addresses Science President Joe Biden signed a massive bipartisan infrastructure bill into law this Monday. The measure focuses on a range of sectors. It would funnel billions into cleaning up pollution in the air and water with efforts that include eliminating lead service lines and cleaning up old, polluted …
 
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