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Slimming Down Fat Cells, the Energy of the Future, and More
Stefan Sølberg; Jari Saramäki; Eliza Grinnell/Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Top Stories: Slimming Down Fat Cells, the Energy of the Future, and More

Muscle Molecule Spurs Fat Cells to Slim Down

Just in time for all those New Year’s resolutions, scientists have a better idea of the exact link between exercise and weight loss. They've discovered that exertion stimulates muscles to release a molecule that modifies fat cells, turning them into calorie-burning machines. The find could one day lead to drugs that fight obesity and diabetes.

Animal Rights Fliers Shock Italian Researchers

The battle over animal experimentation in Italy took a nasty turn this week when anonymous activists posted fliers showing photos, home addresses, and telephone numbers of scientists involved in animal research at the University of Milan and labeled them as "murderers." The leaflets triggered widespread condemnation in academic and political circles.

The Only Thing Constant About Friendship May Be the Number of Your Friends

Friends come and go, but the number of close friends you have may remain surprisingly constant, according to a new study. The research also suggests that people have distinct social “signatures,” or patterns of intimacy with others, which they tend to maintain over time.

'Rhubarb' Battery Could Store Energy of Future

A molecule nearly identical to one in rhubarb may hold the key to the future of renewable energy. Researchers have used the compound to create a high-performance “flow” battery, a leading contender for storing renewable power in the electric utility grid. If the battery prototype can be scaled up, it could help utilities deliver renewable energy when the wind is calm and the sun isn’t shining.

The True Color of Ancient Sea Creatures

Soft tissues aren’t often preserved in the fossil record. As a result, figuring out what ancient creatures looked like—and particularly what colors they might have been—has been mostly speculative. Now, scientists have utilized new high-tech methods to provide an unprecedented peek at the coloration of sea creatures alive during or soon after the dinosaur era.