Top stories: Reversing autismlike symptoms, quantum computers, and fish-eating spiders

(LEFT TO RIGHT): Photo by Andreas Kettenburg, Thousand Oaks, California, USA; JAVIER TRUEBA/MADRID SCIENTIFIC FILMS; COURTESY OF D-WAVE SYSTEMS INC.

Top stories: Reversing autism-like symptoms, quantum computers, and fish-eating spiders

Century-old drug reverses signs of autism in mice

A single dose of a century-old drug has eliminated autism symptoms in adult mice with an experimental form of the disorder. The finding raises the hope that some hallmarks of autism may not be permanent, but could be correctable even in adulthood.

Quantum computer runs no faster than a normal PC

The D-Wave computer, marketed as a groundbreaking quantum machine that runs circles around conventional computers, solves problems no faster than an ordinary rival, a new test shows. But D-Wave argues that the computations used in the study were too easy to show what its novel chips can do.

Evidence mounts against new stem cell method

The STAP controversy continues. Investigators have already documented plagiarism, image falsification, and other problems with two papers reporting that simply stressing adult cells could turn them into powerful stem cells called STAP cells. Now, genetic analysis of the cells has cast fresh doubts on the research and found potential evidence of inadvertent or deliberate switching of cellular material.

Fossils put a new face on the ancestors of Neandertals

The analysis of 17 430,000-year-old-skulls discovered in a Spanish burial pit is helping us uncover the murky origins of Neandertals, our closest cousins. The findings suggest that distinctive features we attribute to Neandertals evolved piecemeal and that some of these features were apparent a half-million years ago.

BICEP2 paper published—with big caveat

What was supposedly the biggest discovery in cosmology in a decade has finally been published—with one big caveat. In March, researchers working with BICEP2, a specialized telescope at the South Pole, reported finding the big bang’s “smoking gun.” But now, they admit that their results could be explained away by signals emanating from the dust within our galaxy.

Fish-eating spiders more common than thought

Fish-eating spiders sound like something out of a nightmare, but until recently, scientists were pretty sure only a few species could do it. Now, with a little help from Google, we've discovered that at least 26 species of spiders know how to fish—and they live on every continent except Antarctica.

Bear in NIH tree sets Twitter aflutter

Budget cuts. Infectious disease. Bioterrorism. Just when the U.S. National Institutes of Health thought it had faced just about every conceivable problem, a black bear took shelter in one of the pine trees on its sprawling campus in Bethesda, Maryland. After setting Twitter and the local scientific community aflutter, the bear was eventually tranquilized and relocated.

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