Top Stories: The Black Death, Bird Flu, and Beaked Whales

annedde/iStockPhoto; Wikimedia Commons; Lisa Thompson, Island Conservation Society, Seychelles (2)

Top Stories: The Black Death, Bird Flu, and Beaked Whales

Black Death Left a Mark on Human Genome

The Black Death didn't just wipe out millions of Europeans during the 14th century. It also changed the human genome. In fact, the evolution of our genome in the face of the Black Death could explain why Europeans respond differently to some diseases and why they have different susceptibilities to autoimmune disorders.

A Calming Cure for Autism?

Complications during labor and birth have been associated with higher rates of autism. Now, a mouse study reveals that a popular blood pressure drug can reduce the stress of being born—and curb symptoms of autism.

New Avian Flu Virus Ravages Poultry in Korea

A dangerous new strain of bird flu that emerged in South Korea on 17 January has spread nationwide despite efforts to clamp down on the virus. Authorities have culled 2.8 million domestic chickens and ducks since the outbreak began. As yet, there are no reports of human infections.

Schizophrenia: Time to Flush the Meds?

The first line of defense for mental illnesses like schizophrenia is usually antipsychotic drugs, many of which have serious side effects. Now, a new study concludes that for patients who can't or won't take medication, psychological approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy could work as an alternative treatment.

Dried Meat 'Resurrects' Lost Species of Whale

Beaked whales are some of the world's most mysterious creatures. Now, after running DNA tests on a gift of dried whale meat given to a scientist visiting islands in the Pacific, researchers have confirmed that there's a whole new species of beaked whale living in our oceans—and there may be others out there.

Quarks Know Their Left From Their Right

How an electron interacts with other matter depends on which way it's spinning as it zips along—to the right like a football thrown by a right-handed quarterback or the left like a pigskin thrown by a lefty. Now, physicists have confirmed that quarks exhibit the same asymmetry. The result could give physics a new weapon in the grand hunt for new particles and forces.