On Henry VIII and the mystery of the missing male heirs

“There are so many women in the world, so many fresh and young and virtuous women, so many good and kind women. Why have I been cursed with women who destroy the children in their own wombs?” So complains Hilary Mantel’s fictional version of Henry VIII – and this Sunday marks the date, 477 years […]

Migrations

When Iben Hove Sørensen flew to Ghana for her work with Dansk Ornitologisk Forening, a partner of BirdLife International, she couldn’t help but think about the birds. The passerines that she was headed south to study follow a similar course that her plane took to their wintering grounds–over the Mediterranean, sometimes through cloud-choked skies, for […]

Top 3 Reasons to Stop Fretting About Being an Old Dad

You probably heard about last week’s Nature study on older dads and autism; it got a lot of attention. The basic findings were fascinating but, in my opinion, far less sensational than what most of the news articles would have us believe. The researchers, led by Kári Stefánsson of deCODE Genetics in Iceland, showed that the average 20-year-old man passes on […]

Guest Post: The Scientist in the Garden

I can’t remember why the seed catalogs started showing up, but once they did, I was a goner. If you haven’t ever gotten one, imagine full color photo spreads of produce, like the striped Tigger Melon and and the orange-red lusciousness of the French pumpkin Rouge Vif d’Etampes. I suppose the names don’t have quite […]

Autism’s Plot

Erika wants to know about the state of autism research. “How is the field doing in terms of rigorous science?” she asks. “What is the most promising theory about how autism develops?” The first question’s easy to answer: pretty damn well. In 2008 (the last time a good survey was done), autism research reaped $144 […]

Arsenic, RNA, and the unpleasant aftertaste of hype

I will never forget the last time I got serious food poisoning. I was a teenager, and my family went out to eat one sunny Saturday morning. Soon after we returned home, I was grasping the toilet bowl, retching in agony. I could still taste the omelet I had eaten for breakfast. To this day, […]

Our biochemical romance: Osama bin Laden and DNA

Last week, officials said that DNA from multiple family members was used to confirm that its years-long hunt for Osama bin Laden had ended in success. But even as politicians criticized President Obama’s decision not to release photos of the dead bin Laden, nobody questioned the assertion that, thanks to DNA, US officials are “99.9” […]