Journal Club

Highlighting recent, timely papers selected by Academy member labs

Harmful social behaviors are the toughest to shift

Social norms changed dramatically during the pandemic. Six-foot distancing and mask wearing became de facto rules in some communities, while elsewhere, wearing a mask was seen as an invitation for harassment. A new study in Proceedings of the Royal Society … Continue reading

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Easily made, robust chemical reagents could be game changer for developing world science

Enzymes and other chemical reagents are crucial for all sorts of life sciences research. Typically, they’re produced in industrial processes by modified bacteria; then they’re extracted and purified. But scientists in many parts of the world struggle to access such … Continue reading

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A popular household fern may be the first known eusocial plant

Staghorn ferns are popular houseplants, sporting long, antler-like fronds that poke out from a brown, tissue-papery base. They may also be the first known example of a plant that exhibits a type of social organization—that is, the first plant thought … Continue reading

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Newly observed forces help geckos stick to surfaces

Even the most advanced glues can’t match the remarkable toe of the gecko: Its impressive stickiness can be quickly deactivated and can support much more than the animal’s weight as it runs across surfaces smooth or rough, wet or dry, … Continue reading

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Opinion: How to ensure regulations don’t stymie much-needed COVID-19 point-of-care testing

Clare Rocka,1 and Jonathan Zenilmana a Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21287.   The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has raged for more than a year in the United States, upending … Continue reading

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Atlas identifies genome regions that regulate plant cell identity

Zoom in on the leaf of a corn plant, and you’ll find a patchwork of about 20 different cell types. A recent study, published in Cell, provides an atlas of critical genomic regions that control cell identity in six different … Continue reading

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Transgenic switchgrass cleans up contamination from military explosives

At military sites in the United States and across the globe, routine live-fire trainings produce a downpour of an explosive known as RDX (hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine). A synthetic chemical, RDX can threaten human health, damaging the nervous system if inhaled or ingested. … Continue reading

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Gossip drives social bonding and helps people learn

Oscar Wilde said the only thing worse than being talked about was not being talked about. Nevertheless, chit-chat about others has a dubious reputation. That’s unfair, say psychologists and social scientists, who argue that gossip is a useful communication tool, … Continue reading

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Several brain regions help us anticipate what’s going to happen next

If you watch a movie clip on repeat, many areas of your brain begin to anticipate upcoming events onscreen, according to a recent study published in eLife. The first time you see the clip, your brain forms a distinctive neural … Continue reading

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Heavy water tastes sweeter

In the 1930s, scientists discovered a heavier form of water. So-called “heavy water” (D2O) weighs more because the nucleus of each of its two hydrogen atoms contains not just a proton but a neutron as well. Known as deuterium, heavy … Continue reading

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Small, sharp blades mark the change from Middle to Later Stone Age in coastal Kenya

The transition between the Middle and Later Stone Age is a controversial topic among archeologists. Recent findings offer a possible answer, suggesting that the shift occurred between 67,000 and 71,000 years ago, and has as its hallmark a sudden abundance … Continue reading

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