Today's Liberal News

Katherine J. Wu

Want to Be Ant Royalty? Prepare to Lose Part of Your Brain.

For most ant species, nothing spells apocalypse quite like the death of a queen. A colony stripped of its monarch, the group’s only fertile female and the sole source of eggs, quickly unravels, then extinguishes—an entire society snuffed out. The captain does not go down with her ship; the ship goes down with her captain.Indian jumping ants do not abide by such dictatorial dramatics. They’ve evolved a work-around to indefinitely forestall their colonies’ demise.

Three Different Futures for the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has entered regulatory purgatory. This morning, the CDC and FDA jointly recommended, “out of an abundance of caution,” a nationwide halt to the single shot’s rollout. The two agencies are investigating a rare blood-clotting disorder: In the six cases reported so far, all in the United States, women ages 18 to 48 developed an unusual type of blood clot within about two weeks of receiving the company’s inoculation.

The Biggest Party of 2021 Is About to Start

A lot can change in 17 years. The last time the cicadas were here, the virus behind the SARS outbreak had finally retreated. George W. Bush was campaigning for his second presidential term, and Myspace had commenced its meteoric rise. Tobey Maguire was still the reigning Spider-Man.

Vaccine Cheat Days Are Adding Up

A few weeks ago, my partially vaccinated partner and my wholly unvaccinated self got an invitation to a group dinner, held unmasked and indoors. There’d be Thai food for 10, we were promised, and two über-immunized hosts, more than two weeks out from their last Moderna doses. And what about everyone else? I asked. Would they be fully vaccinated, too?Well, came the response. Not really. Some would be, some wouldn’t.

The Vaccination Calculus Is Changing for New Parents

Updated at 5:57 p.m. on March 31, 2020.One year ago, around the end of March, Carly Taylor received a positive result for two tests in two consecutive weeks. The first was a test for the new coronavirus. The second was a pregnancy test.Her daughter, Ophelia, arrived on December 22, within days of the public debut of the first COVID-19 vaccines in the United States.

You’re Not Fully Vaccinated the Day of Your Last Dose

For much of 2020, the world pinned its collective post-pandemic plans on a single, glimmering end point: the arrival of an effective COVID-19 vaccine. The resounding refrain of “when I’m vaccinated” has long conjured images of people shedding their masks, hugging their friends, and returning to a semblance of normalcy. And now some vaccinated people are doing exactly that.

Cone Snails Are Liars and Murderers

The aptly named cone snail wears a house that resembles a Ben & Jerry’s receptacle, filled not with ice cream but with a squishy mollusk that sports an extendable, trunklike proboscis. The snails are superficially docile creatures, and can be painfully shy; sometimes they go weeks in a lab without taking a single bite of food, cringing at the slightest change in temperature, lighting, or human supervision.

How Female Frogs Tune Out Useless, Noisy Males

Before frat parties, there were frog ponds.Literal breeding grounds for some of the world’s noisiest bachelors, these lusty pools are where amphibians gather to woo mates. And as any frog researcher will tell you, they’re “super, super, super loud,” says Valentina Caorsi, a bioacoustician at the University of Trento in Italy.

‘To Me, This Penis Is Out of Control’

The world of Danish children’s television is not for the prudish. Kids who turn on the tube in Denmark might be greeted by gratuitous flatulence, cursing, casual nudity, or cross-dressing puppets. , a free-spirited, open-minded approach to life—kids begin discussing love, sexuality, relationships, and consent as early as kindergarten, learning while young that their bodies are things to be acknowledged, not repressed.

Coronavirus Reinfection Will Soon Become Our Reality

On its face, reinfection appears to be a straightforward term. It is literally “infection, again”—a recovered person’s second dalliance with the same microbe. Long written into the scientific literature of infectious disease, it is a familiar word, innocuous enough: a microbial echo, an immunological encore act.But thanks to the pandemic, reinfection has become a semantic and scientific mess.

The Body Is Far From Helpless Against Coronavirus Variants

To locate some of the world’s most superpowered cells, look no further than the human immune system. The mission of these hometown heroes is threefold: Memorize the features of dangerous microbes that breach the body’s barriers. Launch an attack to bring them to heel. Then squirrel away intel to quash future assaults.The immune system is comprehensive, capable of dueling with just about every microbe it meets.