Top Stories: Death by Amoeba, the Dawn of Plate Tectonics, and Old Violins

(Left to right): ITER; Katherine Ralston; NASA/Reto Stöckli

Top Stories: Death by Amoeba, the Dawn of Plate Tectonics, and Old Violins

How Earth Became a Jigsaw Puzzle

Plate tectonics—the worldwide face-lift that continually, but slowly, reshapes the surface of Earth—occurs nowhere else in our solar system. Yet there is much we still don’t know about what drives it and when it began. Now, a new study may help resolve one question: when and how Earth’s rigid outer shell, or lithosphere, first divided into plates and their global dance began.

Death by Amoeba, a Nibble at a Time

Entamoeba histolytica is a mysterious amoeba about a tenth the size of a dust mite. It's tiny but terrible, infecting 50 million people worldwide and killing up to 100,000 each year. Now, a new report reveals how the microbe does its deadly damage: by eating human cells alive, piece by piece. The finding offers a potential target for new drugs to treat E. histolytica infections.

Is Tamiflu Worth It?

The antiflu drug Tamiflu can make symptoms disappear a little sooner than they would otherwise, but there is no evidence that it can prevent serious complications from flu, or keep people out of the hospital, says a new study. The results call into question the wisdom of buying massive stockpiles of the drug to prepare for flu pandemics.

Cost Skyrockets for United States' Share of ITER Fusion Project

ITER, an international fusion experiment, aims to prove that nuclear fusion is a viable power source. Although that goal is at least 20 years away, ITER is already burning through money at a prodigious pace. The U.S. contribution to ITER will total $3.9 billion—roughly four times as much as originally estimated—according to a new cost estimate. The numbers are likely to intensify doubts among some members of Congress about continuing U.S. involvement in the project.

Elite Violinists Fail to Distinguish Legendary Violins From Modern Fiddles

If you know only one thing about violins, it's probably this: A 300-year-old Stradivarius supposedly possesses mysterious tonal qualities unmatched by modern instruments. However, even elite violinists cannot tell a Stradivarius from a top-quality modern violin, a new double-blind study suggests.