January 31, 2013 Owls can turn their heads 270 degrees without injuring themselves. That's more than twice as far around as humans can safely handle. Nifty adaptations in owls' vertebrae and blood vessels make it possible.
January 26, 2013 There was big news this week about U.S. laboratory chimpanzees heading for sanctuary. Barbara J. King considers a new website that urges us to think of these primates not as nameless research subjects, but instead as distinct individuals.
January 24, 2013 Multitaskers tend to test high for traits like risk-taking, sensation-seeking and impulsivity. And those very traits interfere with people's ability to stay focused, researchers say.
January 24, 2013 One new analysis finds female smokers are more than 26 times more likely to die of lung cancer than nonsmoking women — twice the rate calculated 30 years ago. New data also quantify the surprising payoffs of smoking cessation — especially under the age of 40.
January 23, 2013 After researchers created versions of the bird flu virus that could spread more easily, critics began to worry that the work could spawn a pandemic if a virus escaped from the lab. After halting their work for more than a year, scientists now say the benefits outweigh the risks, and they are set to restart their experiments.
January 23, 2013 Reality is stranger than fiction; this is certainly the case within the quantum world, where objects can be in two places at the same time. Experiments confirm this can also be true for large molecules. The next step is to try it with living beings.
January 23, 2013 An NIH working group recommends that most of the agency's 360 research chimpanzees be sent to a sanctuary — a non-laboratory setting where chimps can live more natural lives. But even if the NIH accepts the recommendations, putting them into effect won't be easy.
January 11, 2013 Anthrax spores and gluten are health problems on a very different scale. But researchers believe they both could be vulnerable to thoughtfully designed enzymes. Computerized tools funded by the Defense Department to develop countermeasures for chemical and biological attacks may help with a treatment for celiac disease.
January 9, 2013 An experimental drug developed to fight Alzheimer's disease partially reversed hearing loss caused by exposure to extremely loud sounds, researchers say. The results apply only to mice, but scientists are encouraged by the fact that the medicine caused new hair cells to grow in the animals' inner ears.
December 27, 2012 Children can easily become kinder and more helpful. And that behavior makes them more positive, more accepting and more popular with other children, a study of Canadian kids finds.
December 26, 2012 The year saw some disappointments in the development of drugs to treat Alzheimer's. But the setbacks were offset by progress in other areas. The upshot from this year's mixed results, some scientists say, is that treatment for Alzheimer's needs to start long before forgetfulness and muddled thinking are apparent.
December 20, 2012 People who care for and about chimpanzees are awaiting word from the U.S. Senate this week about passage of legislation that would send many lab-bound animals into quiet retirement. During this holiday season of hope, commentator Barbara J. King lays out a case for why this is the right thing to do.
December 18, 2012 More than 100 federally owned primates have been the subject of controversy. In 2010, the National Institutes of Health made arrangements to move some retired chimpanzees back into the research, spurring protests. But the NIH eventually decided to accept an independent assessment that found there is almost no scientific need for chimps in biomedical research.
December 17, 2012 Secretions from a brown frog's skin contain chemicals that might be useful in fighting bacteria. Russian researchers are cataloging compounds in the slimy goo. Although the odds against them are long, the researchers hope their work will aid the search for new drugs.