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It's one thing for a scientist to have a brilliant idea, or conduct a brilliant experiment. It's quite another for that idea or result to be accepted as scientific truth. Ultimately, Nature will have her say, and further experiments will prove the scientist right or wrong. But while waiting for Nature's verdict, scientists--like lawyers--have to persuade a jury of peers to accept their results. A curious case of the sometimes shifting sands of scientific truth involves an elementary particle known as the top quark.
April 24, 2014 | By Amina Khan
Using some plain old rubber strips, scientists have created a whole new shape -- a hemihelix, a long spiral that switches twisting directions over its length. The shape, described in the journal PLOS One, is rarely seen in nature - and could potentially prove useful for manipulating light on tiny scales. In a standard helix the spiral coils up and up in the same direction, like a stretched-out slinky, and it's a fairly common shape in the natural world, most notably in the double helix of DNA. But hemihelices?
July 13, 2012 | By Alex B. Berezow
Psychologist Timothy D. Wilson, a professor at the University of Virginia, expressed resentment in his Times Op-Ed article on Thursday over the fact that most scientists don't consider his field a real science. He casts scientists as condescending bullies: "Once, during a meeting at my university, a biologist mentioned that he was the only faculty member present from a science department. When I corrected him, noting that I was from the Department of Psychology, he waved his hand dismissively, as if I were a Little Leaguer telling a member of the New York Yankees that I too played baseball.
April 23, 2014 | By Amina Khan
The mysterious "bio-duck" sounds in the ocean that have baffled seafarers for decades are actually calls from unseen populations of minke whales, scientists say. The discovery detailed in the journal Biology Letters will allow researchers to better track these animals even when they're out of sight. “Our results solve the mystery around the source of the bio-duck sound, which is one of the most prevalent sounds in the Southern Ocean during austral winter and can now be attributed unequivocally to the Antarctic minke whale,” the study authors wrote.
March 18, 2013 | By Eryn Brown
Roosters, famously, crow in the early morn -- but scientists don't fully understand why they unleash their voices when they do.  After all, roosters have also been known to make a racket when other animals or birds are about, when a car starts, or when lights turn on in the middle of the night.  So do they crow because they see the morning light, or because they hear other roosters? Or do they have some kind of internal body clock that lets them know that's it's time to unleash their peals?
November 24, 2009 | By David Masci
Today, a century and a half after Charles Darwin published "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection," the overwhelming majority of scientists in the United States accept Darwinian evolution as the basis for understanding how life on Earth developed. But although evolutionary theory is often portrayed as antithetical to religion, it has not destroyed the religious faith of the scientific community. According to a survey of members of the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science, conducted by the Pew Research Center in May and June this year, a majority of scientists (51%)
July 22, 2011 | By Chris Woolston, HealthKey / For the Booster Shots blog
To many, human-animal chimeras--animals that contain human cells--sound like the stuff of nightmares. If you can picture a frog with a human head, a monkey with human vocal chords or a dog with opposable thumbs, you can see why some people want to put the brakes on any sort of scientific experiment that mixes cells from different species. The reality of chimeras is much less dramatic: Picture instead a pig that produces human insulin or a mouse getting chemotherapy for its human cancer cells.
November 3, 1999
Whether it's the vaccination that protects us from polio or the telephone that lets us talk with the neighbor down the street or around the world, our lives are enriched by the work of scientists. But what motivates people to study how and why things work, to dream up inventions that save lives or enable space travel? And why is it important to study galaxies or to view the activities of a single cell?
February 3, 2011 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
It has been 10 years since scientists sequenced the human genome and published the results. To celebrate that anniversary, the journal Science is publishing a series of reflections on the accomplishment -- and its importance on science today and in the future. The first musings appeared Thursday and included "vignettes" from the scientists who led the two teams that decoded the genome, Francis Collins and J. Craig Venter. Collins, now National Institutes of Health director, wrote glowingly about medical advances that have emerged from genome sequencing -- including the case of a 6-year-old boy whose inflammatory bowel disease may have been cured by scientists who sequenced his DNA and discovered a mutation that may have caused his symptoms.
October 9, 2013 | By Mary MacVean
Scientists have discovered two gene mutations that they believe are associated with an increased risk of eating disorders. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia often run in families, but these eating disorders are complex, and it has proved difficult  to identify the paths. But, using two families with very high incidences of eating disorders, scientists say they found rare mutations, one in each family, that were associated with the people who had the disorders. The study suggests that mutations that decrease the activity of a protein that turns on the expression of other genes - called a transcription factor - increase the risk.
April 22, 2014 | By Amina Khan
Kids, do not try this at home: Scientists have found that they can create high-quality graphene sheets using a kitchen blender and ordinary dishwasher detergent. The findings, published in the journal Nature Materials, outline a fresh way to create large amounts of this remarkable material - which could speed up the process toward putting them into future computers , smart coatings and solar cells. Graphene is a two-dimensional lattice of hexagons made up of graphite, the most stable form of carbon under standard conditions.
April 20, 2014 | By Michael S. Teitelbaum
We've all heard the dire pronouncements: U.S. science and technology is losing ground to its global competitors because of a nationwide shortage of scientists and engineers, due primarily to the many failures of K-12 education. But are these gloomy assertions accurate? Nearly all of the independent scholars and analysts who have examined the claims of widespread shortages have found little or no evidence to support them. Salaries in these occupations are generally flat, and unemployment rates are about the same or higher than in others requiring advanced education.
April 17, 2014 | By Monte Morin
Scientists have replicated one of the most significant accomplishments in stem cell research by creating human embryos that were clones of two men. The lab-engineered embryos were harvested within days and used to create lines of infinitely reproducing embryonic stem cells, which are capable of growing into any type of human tissue. The work, reported Thursday in the journal Cell Stem Cell, comes 11 months after researchers in Oregon said they had produced the world's first human embryo clones and used them to make stem cells.
April 14, 2014 | By Amina Khan
Fruit flies seem to have a preternatural ability to evade annoyed swatters. Now, laser-wielding scientists have discovered the secret of these winged escape artists: They execute speedy hairpin turns by banking in the same way that fighter jets do. The aerial skills of Drosophila hydei , described this month in the journal Science, could provide insight into the complex neural circuitry that makes such impressive maneuvers possible - and perhaps...
April 10, 2014 | By Amina Khan, This post has been updated, as indicated below.
Fruit flies could make some talented fighter pilots. Scientists who had the insects wing it through two laser beams watched the bugs make hairpin turns at blazing fast speeds, by banking in the same way that fighter jet planes do. The findings, published in the journal Science, shed light on these tiny critters' remarkable ability to evade predators (and fly swatters). [Updated at 5:15 p.m. PDT April 10: Tracking how these insects fly in response to a threat should help researchers understand the fruit fly's inner life, said Cornell University physicist Jane Wang, who was not involved in the research.
April 4, 2014 | By Ronald D. White
UC Irvine scientists say they have discovered a way to make a surface capable of eliminating glare. It could be a huge relief to anyone blinded by solar panels and by extremely bright electronic displays. The discovery could also make other kinds of electronic devices more easily visible in bright sunlight, such as smartphones, tablets and laptops. Also, soldiers in combat areas may be less likely to have their positions given away to the enemy by reducing the glare coming off their weapons and equipment, UCI scientists said.
October 11, 2012 | By Kim Murphy
SEATTLE - The long-running detective saga involving one of North America's earliest inhabitants has taken a new twist, with news that Kennewick Man - the shockingly intact 9,300-year-old skeleton unearthed in 1996 on the banks of the Columbia River - probably was a visitor to central Washington, not a longtime inhabitant. More likely, Smithsonian Institution anthropologist Douglas Owsley announced in a pair of lectures this week in Washington state, he came from the coast, not the arid inland valley where his remains were found.
November 28, 2012 | By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times
Astronomers on the hunt for supermassive black holes have discovered one so monstrous that its mass dominates the central hub of its galaxy in a way that defies scientists' expectations about how typical black holes behave. Described in Thursday's edition of the journal Nature, the black hole may push theorists to revamp their ideas of how these mysterious structures grow and evolve. Astrophysicists said they were scratching their heads at how thoroughly this gargantuan black hole - seated in the galaxy NGC 1277, about 220 million light-years away - hogs its galactic bed. Supermassive black holes typically account for just 0.1% of the mass in a galaxy's stellar bulge, the cluster of older stars huddled around the center.
April 3, 2014 | By Rong-Gong Lin II
The cluster of earthquakes that began Friday night in La Habra appear to have struck on a fault underneath the Puente Hills thrust fault, scientists said Wednesday. Friday's earthquake has not provoked earthquakes on either the main Puente Hills fault or the nearby Whittier fault. Friday's magnitude-5.1 quake “was relatively shallow and thus did not significantly perturb the parts of the Puente Hills thrust or the Whittier fault, where we expect a major earthquake to start,” said Caltech seismologist Egill Hauksson.
April 1, 2014 | Mary MacVean
Not that most people are eating even five servings of fruit and vegetables every day - but that might not be enough to get the best protection from disease and early death, said researchers who also found that vegetables do more good than fruit. Might the new call be at least seven a day? And if the fruit came from a can or the freezer, it might be doing more harm than good, the researchers reported in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health . “We found a strong inverse relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and all-cause mortality,” they wrote.
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