The United States is weighing a military strike against Syria after concluding that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is responsible for an “undeniable” chemical attack that killed hundreds of people. This week, U.N. investigators are interviewing survivors and collecting samples in the area near Damascus where the 21 August attack allegedly occurred. Judging from videos and other accounts of the attack, chemical weapons specialists say that the investigators are likely to focus on suspicions that the attack involved the nerve agent sarin. But why do experts suspect sarin? And what exactly are investigators looking for? ScienceInsider lays out what we know—and what we’re looking for.
Be careful what you say around a pregnant woman, at least in the last trimester. As a fetus grows inside a mother's belly, it can hear sounds from the outside world—and can understand them well enough to retain memories of them after birth, according to new research.
RNA interference (RNAi), a technique for silencing genes that shows potential for treating diseases, has been like a hot baseball prospect who hasn’t proven he can play in the big leagues. But now RNAi has turned in a performance that is winning researchers’ praise. A new study shows that the approach can dramatically and safely cut levels of a protein that causes a rare liver disease.
Dead dolphins have been recovered from the Eastern Seaboard at a rate that is 10 times higher than usual—333 since just 1 July. This week, researchers announced the culprit is an outbreak of a measleslike virus. They say the epidemic will continue until the number of susceptible animals dwindles, and that there is no feasible way to vaccinate or treat the animals.
It’s an inconvenient truth of aging: As we get older, our memories get worse. But is this memory loss an early form of Alzheimer’s or something else entirely? Now, scientists have found a protein that declines as we get older and distinguishes typical age-related forgetfulness from Alzheimer’s. The discovery could lead to treatment for run-of-the-mill memory loss.