A new book asks: What makes humans call some animals pests?

We spend so much time making sure wildlife stays away from us, whether that’s setting traps, building fences or putting out poisons. Sure, unwanted guests are annoying. But why do we consider some animals “pests”? It’s all about perspective, says science journalist Bethany Brookshire. “We can put poison out for rats and protest their use ... Read more

A natural gene drive could steer invasive rodents on islands to extinction

In the battle against the invasive house mouse on islands, scientists are using the rodent’s own genes against it. With the right tweaks, introducing a few hundred genetically altered mice could drive an island’s invasive mouse population to extinction in about 25 years, researchers report in the Nov. 15 Proceedings of the National Academy of ... Read more

A new portable device can reveal a chili pepper’s heat

Just how hot is your chili pepper? A new chili-shaped device could quickly signal whether adding the pepper to a meal might set your mouth ablaze. Called the Chilica-pod, the device detects capsaicin, a chemical compound that helps give peppers their sometimes painful kick. In general, the more capsaicin a pepper has, the hotter it ... Read more

This robotic pill clears mucus from the gut to deliver meds

A mucus-wicking robotic pill may offer a new way to deliver meds. The multivitamin-sized device houses a motor and a cargo hold for drugs, including ones that are typically given via injections or intravenously, such as insulin and some antibiotics. If people could take such drugs orally, they could potentially avoid daily shots or a ... Read more

Louis Pasteur’s devotion to truth transformed what we know about health and disease

Great scientists become immortalized in various ways. Some through names for obscure units of measurement (à la Hertz, Faraday and Curie). Others in elements on the periodic table (Mendeleev, Seaborg, Bohr, among many others). A few become household names symbolizing genius — like Newton in centuries past and nowadays, Einstein. But only one has been ... Read more

Carvings on Australia’s boab trees reveal a generation’s lost history

Brenda Garstone is on the hunt for her heritage. Parts of her cultural inheritance are scattered across the Tanami desert in northwestern Australia, where dozens of ancient boab trees are engraved with Aboriginal designs. These tree carvings — called dendroglyphs — could be hundreds or even thousands of years old, yet have received almost no ... Read more

‘Fen, Bog & Swamp’ reminds readers why peatlands matter

A recent TV ad features three guys lost in the woods, debating whether they should’ve taken a turn at a pond, which one guy argues is a marsh. “Let’s not pretend you know what a marsh is,” the other snaps. “Could be a bog,” offers the third. It’s an exchange that probably wouldn’t surprise novelist ... Read more

Ancient fish fossils highlight the strangeness of our vertebrate ancestors

My, what small teeth they had. A newfound treasure trove of ancient fish fossils unearthed in southern China is opening a window into the earliest history of jawed vertebrates — a group that encompasses 99 percent of all living vertebrates on Earth, including humans. The fossil site, dated from 439 million to 436 million years ... Read more

Tiger sharks helped discover the world’s largest seagrass prairie

Scientists have teamed up with tiger sharks to uncover the largest expanse of seagrasses on Earth. A massive survey of the Bahamas Banks — a cluster of underwater plateaus surrounding the Bahama archipelago — reveals 92,000 square kilometers of seagrasses, marine biologist Oliver Shipley and colleagues report November 1 in Nature Communications. That area is ... Read more

Artemis I finally launched. Here’s what it means for human spaceflight

Fifty years ago, three NASA astronauts splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, concluding the final Apollo mission. Less than a dozen years after President John F. Kennedy challenged the United States to commit itself to “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely back to the Earth,” that historic program had achieved its ... Read more