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Simple no-risk prenatal blood test may detect vast range of genetic disorders

Prenatal genetic tests such as amniocentesis (drawing some amniotic fluid from around a 16-week fetus) always carries a small risk of miscarriage. Now, a partnership between a group of Chinese researchers and a San Diego biotech company may result in a simple no-risk blood test that detects defects caused by single-gene mutations...

November 25, 2008 — Gary Stix

Thanksgiving: The scientific explanation

You might be wondering what science has to do with Thanksgiving. Its only complexity should involve family feuds and kitchen disasters, right? Have we got news for you: there are myths to be shattered about this most American of holidays, including the alleged soporific effects of turkey and the assumption that gratitude has nothing to do with good health...

November 25, 2008 — Jordan Lite

NASA: All systems go for space urine recycling system

After five days of ill-fated attempts, International Space Station (ISS) astronauts today ran two successful tests of equipment on board designed to turn urine, sweat and moisture from the air into drinking water, NASA.gov reports...

November 25, 2008 — Larry Greenemeier

Ocean turning to acid at lightning speed

Increased carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is making the Pacific coast acidic far more rapidly than previously believed, potentially wreaking havoc for creatures living in it that are unable to tolerate the swiftly changing environment.  

Ecologists at the University of Chicago tracked the acidity of the Pacific off an island close to Washington state over the course of eight years...

November 24, 2008 — Susannah F. Locke

A shoveling scientific community

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 third of her updates on the effort as part of Scientific American.com's In-depth Report on "The Future of the Poles." McMURDO STATION, ANTARCTICA--The stereotype of a scientist is a solitary figure in a white lab coat manipulating chemicals alone late in the night.  Supporting this lone crusader for science are legions of others who work to make the laboratory function...

November 24, 2008 — Robin Bell

Troubled waters: striped bass moms pass on harmful pollutants to babies

The striped bass population in San Francisco Bay has been plummeting since the 1970s and now scientists know why: fish moms are passing down damaging pollutants in the water to their young, according to a new study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ...

November 24, 2008 — Susannah F. Locke

Dead heat: This cemetery's otherworldly energy is solar

Maybe they're trying to bring the dead back to life.

A Spanish town alarmed about climate change has installed solar panels on its mausoleums, turning "a place of perpetual rest into one buzzing with renewable energy," the Associated Press reports with mirth...

November 24, 2008 — Jordan Lite

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