December 20, 2013 |
Never mind the selfish gene - the cellular family history of the oldest living species of flowering plants is marked by enough sex and gluttony to earn a place in Shakespeare's folio. The powerhouse organelles inside cells of Amborella trichopoda, a woody shrub that grows only in the humid jungles of New Caledonia in the South Pacific, gobbled up and retained the entire genome from the equivalent organelles of four different species, three of algae and one of moss, according to a study of the plant's mitochondrial DNA published this week in the journal Science.
November 30, 2013 |
Richard Dawkins was enjoying a coffee at the Mondrian Hotel when a star-struck waiter interrupted him to thank him for his work. It was the kind of thing that happens a lot at the swanky West Hollywood hot spot - but usually to showbiz celebrities, not biologists. Dawkins is used to the adulation. The British intellectual has become a celebrity thanks to his books on evolution - including "The Selfish Gene," written in 1976 - and his vocal atheism, expressed in works like "The God Delusion," published in 2006.
November 15, 2013 |
Four billion years ago, rivers and lakes dotted the surface of Mars, their waters reflecting puffy clouds drifting in a blue sky, scientists believe. Now, it's a dry, rusty rock that's subject to fierce sandstorms, withering blasts of radiation and freezing temperatures that have frozen carbon dioxide to the planet's poles. What happened? That's the question NASA seeks to answer with the scheduled launch Monday of the MAVEN spacecraft. Planetary scientists believe the answer lies high in the Martian atmosphere.
November 15, 2013 |
Thursday was a true dog day afternoon, as scientists announced they had - perhaps - finally solved the riddle of the origin of domesticated dogs. As my colleague Monte Morin reported : “Dogs evolved from a now extinct species of European wolf that followed bands of nomadic or semi-nomadic humans who were hunting woolly mammoths and other large prey.” In other words, dogs come by chasing ducks and squirrels and cars and tennis balls quite naturally. And how do the scientists know this?
October 10, 2013 |
Returning to the country her family fled years earlier because of persecution by the Khmer Rouge, Kalyanee Mam has crafted a deeply felt portrait of Cambodia. Her documentary "A River Changes Course" is a profile of three families in different parts of the Southeast Asian nation - a remote northern jungle, a floating hamlet on the Tonle Sap River and a village outside Phnomh Penh - that captures the country at a crucial juncture on the industrialization spectrum. However emblematic their struggles are, the people Mam follows over several years are vivid individuals, whether they're facing a poor rice harvest, dwindling fish supplies or deforestation in the name of progress.
October 9, 2013 |
In Southern California's outer orbit, a dusty highway drive away from the L.A.'s health-obsessed celebrities and hipsters, a massive $70-million factory is preparing to churn out 140,000 gallons of premium juice a week. The 264,000-square-foot Rancho Cucamonga facility is owned by Starbucks Corp., best known for its coffee-on-every-corner network of cafes. The Seattle java giant is watching juice shops crowd into major cities and command $10 a bottle even in a feeble economy. Now it's angling for a bigger sip of the $1.6-billion fresh juice craze, shifting production of its Evolution Fresh juice brand to the new factory Wednesday.