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Thursday, August 6, 2020
New model looks at what might happen if SARS-CoV-2 is here to stay

New model looks at what might happen if SARS-CoV-2 is here...

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Enlarge / Face masks may be a regular feature in our near-term future. Most of the optimistic ideas about what to do about SARS-CoV-2 involve engineering the virus' extinction. We could ramp up testing and isolate anyone who's been in contact with an infected individual. We could carefully manage infections to build up herd immunity…
Newly engineered enzyme can break down plastic to raw materials

Newly engineered enzyme can break down plastic to raw materials

Plastics have a lot of properties that have made them fixtures of modern societies. They can be molded into any shape we'd like, they're tough yet flexible, and they come in enough variations that we can tune the chemistry to suit different needs. The problem is that they're tough enough that they don't break down…
Vampire bats bond by grooming first to build trust before sharing blood

Vampire bats bond by grooming first to build trust before sharing...

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Enlarge / A vampire bat in flight with spread wings. The creatures build strong social bonds through grooming, sharing blood.Samuel Betkowski/Getty Images Vampire bats can starve to death if they don't feed for a mere three days, so strong social ties can be key to survival. For instance, a bat will sometimes share food with…
COVID-19: the biology of an effective therapy

COVID-19: the biology of an effective therapy

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Aurich Lawson / Getty A coronavirus vaccine may not arrive for at least a year—so what are the chances of finding a useful therapy that could stave off the worst effects of the virus in the meantime? Earlier coronavirus outbreaks like SARS and MERS raised warning flags for public health officials. Fortunately, they also alerted…
US starts safety testing of coronavirus vaccine

US starts safety testing of coronavirus vaccine

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Enlarge / A research associate works at the Moderna Therapeutics Inc. lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts. On Monday, the Associated Press reported watching the first safety tests of a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that recently spread into a global pandemic. Considering we didn't even know the virus existed five months ago, this represents remarkable progress.…
Sea turtles think plastic smells like food

Sea turtles think plastic smells like food

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A turtle very interested in the smells that pipe has to offer. The push against single-use plastic has some emotive mascots, including the iconic turtle with a straw in its nose. The working hypothesis about why turtles are so attracted to plastic is that plastic drifting in the ocean can look a lot like jellyfish.…
When the medium matters: The mighty mantis shrimp pulls its punch in air

When the medium matters: The mighty mantis shrimp pulls its punch...

Enlarge / A new study shows that mantis shrimp don't punch quite as powerfully when they are out of the water. The mantis shrimp is famous in the animal kingdom for its fast, powerful hammer strike, on par with the force generated by a .22 caliber bullet. One might conclude that those strikes would be…
New Netflix series Night on Earth shows wildlife in a startling new light

New Netflix series Night on Earth shows wildlife in a startling...

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Intrepid camera crews braved the elements all over the world to capture wildlife in the dark for Night on Earth. Intrepid camera crews braved harsh nighttime conditions and used all the technical ingenuity at their disposal for Night on Earth, a new nature documentary series from Netflix that lets viewers see familiar animals in a startling…
Neanderthals may have interbred with a much older human lineage

Neanderthals may have interbred with a much older human lineage

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Enlarge / OK, which one of you is the father? Shortly before the publication of the first Neanderthal genome, a number of researchers had seen hints that there might be something strange lurking in the statistics of the human genome. The publication of the genome erased any doubts about these hints and provided a clear…
Divided, we fall: How ant behavior mimics political polarization

Divided, we fall: How ant behavior mimics political polarization

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Enlarge / Studying how ants organize division of labor within a colony can lend insight into how political polarization occurs in human society. Ants may be tiny critters with tiny brains, but these social insects are capable of collectively organizing themselves into a highly efficient community to ensure the colony survives. And it seems that…

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