The New York Times, July 10, 2019


A skull fragment found in the roof of a cave in southern Greece is the oldest fossil of Homo sapiens ever discovered in Europe, scientists reported on Wednesday.

Until now, the earliest remains of modern humans found on the Continent were less than 45,000 years old. The skull bone is more than four times as old, dating back over 210,000 years, researchers reported in the journal Nature.

The finding is likely to reshape the story of how humans spread into Europe, and may revise theories about the history of our species.

Continue reading “A Skull Bone Discovered in Greece May Alter the Story of Human Prehistory”

The New York Times, July 3, 2019


Scientists have used genetically reprogrammed bacteria to destroy tumors in mice. The innovative method one day may lead to cancer therapies that treat the disease more precisely, without the side effects of conventional drugs.

The researchers already are scrambling to develop a commercial treatment, but success in mice does not guarantee that this strategy will work in people. Still, the new study, published on Wednesday in the journal Nature Medicine, is a harbinger of things to come, said Dr. Michael Dougan, an immunologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Continue reading “New Weapons Against Cancer: Millions of Bacteria Programmed to Kill”

The New York Times, July 1, 2019


At three o’clock in the afternoon on September 4, 1882, the electrical age began. The Edison Illuminating Company switched on its Pearl Street power plant, and a network of copper wires came alive, delivering current to a few dozen buildings in the surrounding neighborhood.

One of those buildings housed this newspaper. As night fell, reporters at The New York Times gloried in the steady illumination thrown off by Thomas Edison’s electric lamps. “The light was soft, mellow, and grateful to the eye, and it seemed almost like writing by daylight,” they reported in an article the following day.

Continue reading “Wired Bacteria Form Nature’s Power Grid: ‘We Have an Electric Planet’”

The New York Times, June 18, 2019


The cuttlefish and its relatives, squid and octopuses, often strike human observers as floating aliens wreathed in sucker-covered limbs — boneless, squirming appendages that would seem to have nothing in common with our own arms and legs.

But hidden under the superficial differences, a new study shows, are some profound similarities: Human and cuttlefish limbs develop under the direction of the same genes. The new study, published on Tuesday in the journal eLife, lends weight to the theory that many animal appendages, from insect wings to fish fins, share a long evolutionary history.

Continue reading “Cuttlefish Arms Are Not So Different From Yours”

The New York Times, June 13, 2019


Ladybugs briefly took over the news cycle.

Meteorologists at the National Weather Service were looking over radar images in California on the night of June 4 when they spotted what looked like a wide swath of rain. But there were no clouds.

The meteorologists contacted an amateur weather-spotter directly under the mysterious disturbance. He wasn’t getting soaked by rain. Instead, he saw ladybugs. Everywhere.

Continue reading “These Animal Migrations Are Huge — and Invisible”