Zantke et. al/Cell Reports; Wikimedia; Pasieka/Science Photo Library

Top Stories: Necessary Naps, Forests in Peril, and More

Naps Nurture Growing Brains

Naps provide a few hours of much-needed peace and quiet for parents and kids alike … but do children really need them? They sure do! A new study provides the first evidence that daytime sleep is critical for effective learning in young children.

U.S. Senate Ends Helium Saga

The U.S. Senate has finally ended a protracted pingpong match over the future of the helium market. Senators voted yesterday to approve legislation allowing the U.S. government to continue selling helium from a national reserve that plays a key role in U.S. and world supplies. Much to the relief of scientists, the bill prevents a major disruption in a system that is scheduled to end on 1 October.

If Chosen Wisely, Existing Drugs Fight Resistant Bugs

Medical experts have been powerless to stop the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and are increasingly desperate to develop novel drugs. But a new study finds that smarter use of current antibiotics could offer a solution. Researchers were able to keep resistant bacteria from thriving by alternating antibiotics to specifically exploit the vulnerabilities that come along with resistance—a strategy that could extend the lifespan of existing drugs to continue fighting even the most persistent pathogens.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory to Trim Staff by as Much as 11%

The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has announced a plan to pare up to 475 positions from its staff of 4500 researchers, technicians, and support personnel. Officials hope to meet the target through voluntary buyouts, and there are no immediate plans for layoffs. The buyouts follow similar staffing cuts in 2010 as the lab anticipates the need for further reductions to cope with sequestration.

Biodiversity in Forest Fragments Proves Precarious

As forests shrink around the world, ecologists have pinned their hopes of preserving biodiversity on the isolated patches of forest often left behind. But mass extinctions on Thai islands suggest that these precious habitats face serious threats. According to new research, small mammal species native to these forest fragments are at greater risk of dying out than previously thought.