Top stories: Disappearing ground water, a boost for NSF, and the earliest dinos

(left to right): DAVID MARCHAL/SCIENCE SOURCE; ANDREY ATUCHIN; OAKLEY ORIGINALS/FLICKR/CREATIVE COMMONS

Top stories: Disappearing ground water, a boost for NSF, and the earliest dinos

David is the Online News Editor of Science.

Did Brazil’s uncontacted tribe receive proper medical care?

Scientists and Brazil’s government disagree about whether the isolated Amazon tribespeople who came down with flu after making contact with the outside world last month received adequate medical treatment. At least one scientist fears that the illness is just the start of a health catastrophe for the tribe and blames the government for not taking fuller precautions before the tribespeople slipped back into the forest.

Western U.S. states using up ground water at an alarming rate

A new study shows that ground water in the Colorado River Basin is being depleted six times faster than surface water. The groundwater losses, which take thousands of years to be recharged naturally, point to the unsustainability of exploding population centers and water-intensive agriculture in the basin, which includes most of Arizona and parts of Colorado, California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and Wyoming.

Senate bill backs NSF's practices and calls for big funding boost

Taking issue with its counterpart in the U.S. House of Representatives, a Senate panel has embraced how the National Science Foundation (NSF) does its business in a bill that sets policies and recommends funding levels for NSF over the next 5 years. The proposed legislation calls on Congress to increase NSF’s budget by nearly 40%, to $9.9 billion, by 2019. It also endorses NSF’s current policies for reviewing grant proposals and—in sharp contrast to a House bill—emphasizes the importance of the social sciences as part of a balanced research portfolio.

Earliest dinosaurs may have sported feathers

Researchers agree that birds are dinosaurs, but when did dinosaurs start becoming birds? New excavations in Siberia reveal that one sure sign of birdiness, the presence of feathers, has very deep roots in the dino evolutionary tree; indeed, dinosaurs may have been sporting feathers from the very beginning of their existence about 240 million years ago.

Nervous system may hold key to treating asthma attacks

The wheezing, coughing, and gasping for breath that come with a sudden asthma attack aren’t just the fault of an overactive immune system. A particularly sensitive bundle of neurons stretching from the brain to the lungs might be to blame as well, researchers have found. Drugs that alter these neurons could provide a new way to treat some types of asthma.

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