North America’s oldest skull surgery dates to at least 3,000 years ago

A man with a hole in his forehead, who was interred in what’s now northwest Alabama between around 3,000 and 5,000 years ago, represents North America’s oldest known case of skull surgery. Damage around the man’s oval skull opening indicates that someone scraped out that piece of bone, probably to reduce brain swelling caused by ... Read more

Here are the Top 10 times scientific imagination failed

Science, some would say, is an enterprise that should concern itself solely with cold, hard facts. Flights of imagination should be the province of philosophers and poets. On the other hand, as Albert Einstein so astutely observed, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Knowledge, he said, is limited to what we know now, while “imagination ... Read more

We can do better than what was ‘normal’ before the pandemic

It’s a weird time in the pandemic. COVID-19 cases are once again climbing in some parts of the United States, but still falling from the January surge in other places. The omicron subvariant BA.2 is now dominant in the country, accounting for more than 50 percent of new cases in the week ending March 26, ... Read more

This hieroglyph is the oldest known record of the Maya calendar

Buried within the Las Pinturas pyramid in San Bartolo, Guatemala, thousands of painted plaster mural fragments offer a window into ancient Maya civilization. Two of those fragments form the earliest known record of a Maya calendar, created between 300 and 200 B.C. The fragments depict the date of “7 Deer” from the 260-day sacred calendar ... Read more

A very specific kind of brain cell dies off in people with Parkinson’s

Deep in the human brain, a very specific kind of cell dies during Parkinson’s disease. For the first time, researchers have sorted large numbers of human brain cells in the substantia nigra into 10 distinct types. Just one is especially vulnerable in Parkinson’s disease, the team reports May 5 in Nature Neuroscience. The result could ... Read more

Joggers naturally pace themselves to conserve energy even on short runs

For many recreational runners, taking a jog is a fun way to stay fit and burn calories. But it turns out an individual has a tendency to settle into the same, comfortable pace on short and long runs — and that pace is the one that minimizes their body’s energy use over a given distance. ... Read more

All of the bases in DNA and RNA have now been found in meteorites

More of the ingredients for life have been found in meteorites. Space rocks that fell to Earth within the last century contain the five bases that store information in DNA and RNA, scientists report April 26 in Nature Communications. These “nucleobases” — adenine, guanine, cytosine, thymine and uracil — combine with sugars and phosphates to ... Read more