Federal scientists last week discovered a half-dozen forgotten vials of smallpox virus while cleaning out a storage area on the campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Variola, or smallpox, which killed hundreds of millions before it was declared eradicated in 1980 through a worldwide vaccination campaign, is legally stored at only two locations in the United States and Russia.
For decades, physicists have sought the sources of the most energetic subatomic particles in the universe—cosmic rays that strike the atmosphere with as much energy as well-thrown baseballs. Now, a team working with the Telescope Array, a collection of 507 particle detectors covering 700 square kilometers of desert in Utah, has observed a broad "hotspot" in the sky in which such cosmic rays seem to originate. Although not definitive, the observation suggests the cosmic rays emanate from a distinct source near our galaxy and not from sources spread all over the universe.
Starving a pregnant mouse can cause changes in the sperm of her sons that apparently warp the health of her grandchildren, according to a new study. The finding offers some of the strongest evidence yet that a mother’s environment during pregnancy can alter the expression of DNA in ways that are passed on to future generations.
That metal ball that makes your hair stand on end at science museums may have a powerful new use. Scientists have found a way to combine these Van de Graaff generators with a common laboratory instrument to detect drugs, explosives, and other illicit materials on the human body.
Pandas are one of the world’s most fascinating vegetarians. Their digestive systems evolved to process meat, yet they eat nothing but bamboo—all day, every day. A new study reveals how these animals survive on a diet that should kill them.