Wild Running Wheels, Windborne Illnesses, and Microbes in the Placenta

(Left to right): David Plunkert; Illustration (from animation) © Science/AAAS; Shutterstock

Top Stories: Wild Running Wheels, Windborne Illnesses, and Microbes in the Placenta

Even in the Wild, Mice Run on Wheels

Do caged mice really like their exercise wheels, or are they just bored and neurotic? Scientists set up a simple experiment—outdoor wheels paired with infrared cameras—to find out. It turns out that even wild mice really enjoy running on wheels. For some reason, the animals seem to relish the feeling of running without going anywhere. The findings suggest that like (some) humans, mice and other animals may simply exercise because they like to. 

Mysterious Illness May Be Carried by the Wind

Kawasaki disease is one of the world's most baffling illnesses. Now, we're one step closer to understanding what causes it. A new study has found that the disease is at its deadliest when the wind blows from northeastern China. The findings suggest that the illness may be caused by an airborne toxin from that region—but just which one remains unclear.

New Plan for U.S. Particle Physics: Go International

To finally get started on building their next megaproject at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the United States' sole particle physics lab, leading U.S. physicists say they’re willing to take a gamble. They want to stage the project as an international collaboration—even if that means ceding direct control of the experiment to a council of member nations.

The Science of Inequality

Social mobility is an important concept for social scientists who study economic inequality and opportunity. But collecting enough of the right data to draw meaningful conclusions is difficult. And applying those findings to public policy is even harder. As part of Science's free special section on the science of inequality, reporter Jeffrey Mervis explores these issues in four related articles. 

Placenta Harbors Bacteria, May Impact Fetal Health

Researchers have discovered a small community of bacteria living in a most unlikely place: the placenta, an organ long thought to be sterile. The discovery of a placental microbiome adds to speculation that no tissue in the human body is, in fact, sterile. The study also suggests that the placental microbes come from the mother’s mouth, so if you’re pregnant, take good care of your teeth!