Possible CF cure (Discover)
Massachusetts-based Vertex Pharaceuticals has developed a medicine for cystic fibrosis, Kalydeco, that fixes the defective protein causing the disease. Two sisters, patients in a clinical trial, living in North Andover, are now virtually symptom-free.
Whence monogamy? (Science News)
Monogamy is common in bird, but rare in mammals. It happens occasionally, of course -- wolves, beavers, about a quarter of the primates including humans -- well, we try. The question is why any mammals are monogamous. In birds, it's easy to see that the male can help incubate the eggs, or feed the female while she incubates. But why to mammal fathers sometimes stick around? One theory is that they are there to protect mother and children from other males, who would, as lions do, kill the cubs so as to make room for their own. Another theory is that, in species where females are often geographically separated, it makes more sense for the males to stick with one rather than expend great amounts of time and energy looking for many. The authors of each theory criticize the other...
Indian melting pot (Science)
India is famous, or infamous, for its caste system (though be it noted that their constitution now forbids discrimination by caste). Among other things, marriages aren't supposed to cross caste lines. Now. But genetic analysis shows that this state of affairs only goes back 1900 years. Between 4200 years ago and 1900 years ago, the two major ancestral populations of India intermarried freely.
Y-Adam meets mito-Eve (Science News)
Trace every woman back, daughter to mother, and we find all the bloodlines converge on one individual, called "Mitochondrial Eve," who lived between 150,000 and 240,000 years ago. Trace the male lines back, and you find "Y-Chromosomal Adam," who lived 50,000 to 115,000 years ago. So they never met. Not at all impossible, just untidy. But new studies with differing sets of specimens are getting wildly varying dates for both Adam and Eve, sometime well before the dawn of modern humans. Or maybe modern humans are older than we thought.
Synthetic meat (Nature, Discover)
The perfect vegetarian hamburger: it was grown in a laboratory from stem cells taken from a cow. A still-living cow. Of course, this one patty cost $332,000, but the price could presumably come down if they were mass produced.
Ammonia fuel (New Scientist)
Did you know ammonia burns? And when it does, it releases no carbon dioxide. It wouldn't be a perfect fix for the CO2 problem, but it could help.