Honeybees waggle to communicate. But to do it well, they need dance lessons

In a castaway test setup, groups of young honeybees figuring out how to forage on their own start waggle dancing spontaneously — but badly.Waggling matters. A honeybee’s rump-shimmy runs and turning loops encode clues that help her colony mates fly to food she has found, sometimes kilometers away. However, five colonies in the new test ... Read more

See the ‘periodic table’ of molecular knots

Like a scouting handbook for the molecular realm, a new chart reveals how to tie molecules up in knots of increasing complexity. Mathematicians have cataloged billions of distinct knot types, but researchers have been able to make only a few molecular versions. Scientists craft the minuscule knots using a solution filled with building blocks of ... Read more

OSIRIS-REx snaps first images of asteroid Bennu

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has its destination in its sights. On August 17, the probe took its first images of the asteroid 101955 Bennu, marking the beginning of the spacecraft’s approach after a nearly two-year space voyage. “I can’t explain enough how much it meant to this team,” mission principal investigator Dante Lauretta, a planetary scientist ... Read more

Strange gamma rays from the sun may help decipher its magnetic fields

The sleepy sun turns out to be a factory of extremely energetic light. Scientists have discovered that the sun puts out more of this light, called high-energy gamma rays, overall than predicted. But what’s really weird is that the rays with the highest energies appear when the star is supposed to be at its most ... Read more

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill ruined long-term shore stability

Long after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the marshy shores of the Gulf of Mexico were still feeling the effects of the disaster. Marsh grass retained plant-smothering oil, and the soil continued to crumble away at a faster rate than before the spill, causing the shoreline to retreat more rapidly than it would otherwise, a ... Read more

‘Mommy brain’ doesn’t capture how the brain transforms during pregnancy

Pregnancy shrinks parts of the brain. That sounds bad. Throw in the forgetfulness and fogginess, or “momnesia,” that many moms report, and what’s left is the notion that for the brain, the transition to motherhood is a net loss. “I see it on social media all the time,” says neuroscientist and therapist Jodi Pawluski of ... Read more

Air pollution made an impression on Monet and other 19th century painters

The 19th century landscape paintings hanging in London’s Tate Britain museum looked awfully familiar to climate physicist Anna Lea Albright. Artist Joseph Mallord William Turner’s signature way of shrouding his vistas in fog and smoke reminded Albright of her own research tracking air pollution. “I started wondering if there was a connection,” says Albright, who ... Read more

Medicated eye drops may delay nearsightedness in children

An eye drop a day could keep myopia at bay — at least temporarily. Using nightly eye drops with 0.05 percent atropine, a medication that relaxes the eye muscle responsible for focusing vision, may delay myopia onset in children, researchers report February 14 in JAMA. Myopia, also called nearsightedness, is an irreversible condition in which ... Read more