Tag Archives: science

Treating Disease by Nudging the Microbes Inside Us

In the final decades of the 19th century, scientists showed in rapid succession that many of the worst diseases to afflict humanity were the work of bacteria—germs. Leprosy, gonorrhea, diphtheria, tuberculosis, plague, cholera, dysentery: Barely a year went by without assigning an infamous illness to a newly identified microbe. This concept, where one germ causes one disease, has influenced the way we think about infections ever since, and it implies an obvious solution: Remove the bug, and cure the sickness.

But the links between microbes and poor health can be more complicated. Our bodies are naturally home to tens of trillions of bacteria. Most are benign, or even beneficial. But often, these so-called microbiomes can shift into a negative state. For example, inflamed guts tend to … Read the rest

Ancient Infant’s DNA Reveals New Clues to How the Americas Were Peopled

Around 11,500 years ago, at a place that is now called the Upward Sun River, in the region that has since been named Alaska, two girls died. One was a late-term fetus; the other, probably her cousin, was six weeks old. They were both covered in red ochre and buried in a circular pit, along with hunting weapons made from bones and antlers. “There was intentionality in the burial ceremony,” says Ben Potter from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, who uncovered their skeletons in 2013. “These were certainly children who were well-loved.”

Now, several millennia after their short lives ended, these infants have become important all over again. Within their DNA, Potter’s team has found clues about when and how the first peoples came to … Read the rest