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Tonight's full moon biggest, brightest of 2008

If tonight's full moon appears larger and more luminous than usual, it's not because you're loony or due for a new pair of glasses. The moon, you see, orbits Earth in an ellipse with one end closer to Earth than the other; tonight's full moon corresponds closely with the orbit's perigee, the closer end of that ellipse.

December 12, 2008 — John Matson

Diabetes and celiac disease: A genetic connection

Patients with type 1 diabetes have been known to be more prone to another autoimmune disorder, celiac disease, in which gluten in wheat, rye and barley triggers an immune response that damages the small intestine or gut.

December 11, 2008 — Jordan Lite

Crackling pretzels

Editor's note: Marine geophysicist Robin Bell is leading an expedition to Antarctica to explore a mysterious mountain range beneath the ice sheet. Following is the tenth of her updates on the effort as part of ScientificAmerican.com 's In-Depth Report on the "Future of the Poles." McMURDO STATION, ANTARCTICA—I expected to find a piece of machinery snapping away when I rounded the corner.

December 11, 2008 — Robin Bell

Four Europeans selected for epic Mars isolation study

A future manned trip to Mars would subject astronauts to any number of unpredictable hazards—an unprecedentedly complex launch and journey, bombardment by cosmic radiation, and, if sci-fi movies are to be believed, harassment from potentially unfriendly locals.

December 11, 2008 — John Matson

Steven Chu, Nobel Prize-winning physicist, to be energy chief

President-elect Barack Obama is set to tap a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Steven Chu, as energy secretary, according to published reports.

Chu, 60, is director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a proponent of solar energy, biofuels and curbs on Earth-warming emissions – three features central to Obama's alt-energy and environmental platforms during the campaign.

December 11, 2008 — Jordan Lite

No nukes: World leaders call for end to all nuclear weapons

'Tis the season to get rid of nukes? In an effort to achieve world peace and lessen the growing threat of nuclear power, a nascent group including the likes of former President Jimmy Carter, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Bishop Desmond Tutu and Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa this week launched a campaign calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

December 10, 2008 — Jordan Lite

Diabetes Rx ups bone fracture risk

A new study indicates that drugs called thiazolidinediones used to control blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes may do more harm than good. Scientists report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) that women who take the meds have reduced spine and hip bone density and have double the risk of fracturing bones if they're on the pills for more than a year.

December 10, 2008 — Coco Ballantyne

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