A Big Bang Breakthrough, Stressed-Out Brain Cells, and the Power of the Human Nose
(Left to right): shumpc/iStockphoto/Thinkstock; PLoS Biol 2(5): e134 (2004); Steffen Richter/Harvard University

Top Stories: A Big Bang Breakthrough, Stressed-Out Brain Cells, and the Power of the Human Nose

Glimpse of the Universe's First Split Second Boosts Inflation Theory

Just after our universe was born, it doubled its size 60 times before it was even a second old. Now, 13.7 billion years later, cosmologists have detected the first direct evidence of this inflation and spotted traces of gravitational waves—echoes of the big bang. It's one of the biggest discoveries in the field in 20 years.

Stressed-Out Brain Cells May Protect Against Alzheimer's

Want to live a long, dementia-free life? Stress your cells out. That’s the conclusion of a new study, which finds that heightened cellular stress causes brain cells to produce a protein that staves off Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The work could lead to new ways to diagnose or treat such diseases.

Human Nose Can Detect a Trillion Smells

Who says we're not good smellers? A new study has revealed that the average human nose can detect 1 trillion scents. Some noses are more sensitive—the best sniffer in the study was probably able to distinguish more than a thousand trillion odors! Researchers had previously estimated that humans could sense only about 10,000 odors, but the number had never been explicitly tested before.

Irreproducibility Dogs New Stem Cell Reprogramming Method

The authors of two controversial papers that claimed simply stressing adult cells could turn them into powerful stem cells are already facing mounting allegations of problematic images and plagiarism. Since January, scientists around the world have unsuccessfully attempted to reproduce their finding. Now, ScienceInsider has learned that some of the labs involved in producing the two papers describing the work had not attempted to reproduce the technique before the papers were published. 

Famous Breast Cancer Gene Could Affect Brain Growth

BRCA1 is best known as the “breast cancer gene”—it keeps tumors in the breast and ovaries at bay. But scientists are just starting to unravel the gene's many functions, and it turns out that BRCA1 may also regulate brain size. The findings could shed light on the gene's role in brain evolution.