What you need to know about the new omicron booster shots

Revamped COVID-19 vaccines are poised to do battle with the super-contagious omicron variant. On September 1, U.S. health officials greenlit the first major update of the mRNA-based shots, reformulated to recognize both the original version of SARS-CoV-2 and the recently circulating versions of omicron. Those mRNA vaccine boosters could start going into arms within days. ... Read more

Zapping plastic with a laser forged tiny diamonds

A laser blast produces miniature diamonds from plain-old plastic. That’s right, the same kind used in soda bottles. When squeezed to about a million times Earth’s atmospheric pressure and heated to thousands of degrees Celsius, polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, forms nanodiamonds, physicist Dominik Kraus and colleagues report September 2 in Science Advances. Ice giant planets, ... Read more

In dark fishing spiders, males’ postmating nap is permanent

Once is apparently enough for male dark fishing spiders. After delivering only half of their available sperm to a single female, males curl up and wait for death. In the considerable annals of spider sex ending badly, male Dolomedes tenebrosus suffer a fate not described before, says behavioral ecologist Steven K. Schwartz of the University ... Read more

Hubble finds hints of a planet oddly far-flung from its star

A mysterious gap in a star’s dusty shell of debris could be the signature of a young planet circling its sun at twice the distance of Pluto’s orbit. If it does exist, the far-flung planet’s birth may be hard for astronomers to explain. “If this is a planet, it is extremely challenging for existing planet ... Read more

Ebola thwarted in mice by drugs for infertility, cancer

Two drugs already on the market for other purposes can halt Ebola virus in mice. The findings open the way for further testing of the drugs, clomiphene and toremifene, against the deadly virus. Scientists screened more than 2,000 drugs against Ebola, a process that required the highest level of safety precautions because the virus is ... Read more

Snails trace Stone Age trek from Iberia to Ireland

Stone Age people may have carried land snails on a voyage from the Pyrenees to Ireland, an examination of the snails’ DNA reveals. Scientists have struggled to explain why Ireland shares some plant and animal species with the Iberian Peninsula, but not with the rest of Europe or the British Isles. For example, Cepaea nemoralis ... Read more

On the trail of a new virus

A new, deadly respiratory virus spreads easily in hospital settings, a team of investigators has found. The virus, called the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, or MERS, reminds Johns Hopkins University epidemiologist Trish Perl of SARS. “The cases are eerily similar,” she says. Perl and two colleagues investigated a SARS outbreak in Toronto 10 years ... Read more

Aerial radar sizes up ancient urban sprawl

Laser pulses beamed from a low-flying airplane into northwestern Cambodia’s dense jungles have revealed ancient remnants of extensive, carefully planned settlements of rice farmers. These settlements were part of Angkor, the capital of the region’s Khmer empire. Angkor flourished from around 900 to 1500, but forests now obscure much of the city’s urban sprawl. Laser ... Read more

Cabbage circadian clocks tick even after picking

Cabbages with jet lag are less nutritious and more vulnerable to insect pests.Fruits and vegetables have an internal clock that can be reset by a daily cycle of light and dark, but storing produce in darkened refrigerators could disrupt this natural rhythm, researchers report June 20 in Current Biology. Plants, even after being cropped from ... Read more

Human brain mapped in 3-D with high resolution

A new 3-D map of the brain is the best thing since sliced cold cuts, at least to some neuroscientists.“It’s a remarkable tour-de-force to reconstruct an entire human brain with such accuracy,” says David Van Essen, a neuroscientist at Washington University in St. Louis. Using a high-tech deli slicer and about 100,000 computer processors, researchers ... Read more